Apr 012020
 

What a wild month. March started out slow for me because I got sick on the very first day of the month and WAS TOO SICK TO READ FOR TWO WHOLE DAYS.

But on March 3rd, I was ready to really dive into my first book and it was a real unexpected treat! More on that soon.

In more wildness, the Carnegie Library announced on 3/13 that it would be closing at the end of the day on 3/14 and stay closed until 3/31, in an effort to stay safe during the coronavirus crisis. Obviously, props to them for being responsible. But selfishly, I was SCREAMING. I had to go to their website the night before and check to see which of my “want to read” books are currently available at my local branch, made a list, and walked there the next morning with a canvas bag.

People mass-buying toilet paper while I’m out there scooping up books from the library.

And, as with the previous two months, I had another book coincidence to make it a three month streak: two back-to-back books mentioned the act of kneeling on uncooked rice.

KNEELING ON UNCOOKED RICE!

Also, the Spanish Flu was referenced in several of these books and I fucking swear….this universe.

Anyway, let’s get into it!

  1. Blue Monday – Nicci French

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I picked this up because I kept seeing it all over BookTube and Good Reads. I figured it would be a good filler book, a light “thriller,” but I was absolutely blown away by this. The characters! I’m so glad this is a series because I grew so attached to them. Anyway, the book is centered around Frieda, a psychoanalyst who has some issues of her own (like insomnia). Her relationships with the side-characters and the dialogue between them was just as compelling as the child-kidnapping main plot of the book. She is fascinating and I can’t wait to read more from this series (I hope that the Ukranian handyman, Josef, and his comedic relief make more appearances!). I think this would be good for people who like Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta books.

Fun fact: Nicci French is actually the pen name of a married couple, who also write separately.

2. The Troop – Nick Cutter

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OK, shit. Goddamn. This book. Wow. A boy scout troop is on some small isolated Canadian island for a weekend camping trip with their Scout leader, but then some mysterious stranger shows up, on his deathbed, his body wrecked, ravaged, and infiltrated by lab-created parasitic worms. BODY HORROR GALORE. Probably the WORST book for me to read while recovering from a stomach bug, but, you know, I said I was looking for a book that would actually SCARE me. Well, this scared me and also made me involuntarily dry-heave. Since I was working from home several days during that first week of March, I decided to see if I could find this on audio book as well, so in addition to reading, I listened to parts of it if I was doing particularly mindless work at the time, and I really enjoyed it! It helped to have the physical copy of the book though because there are transcripts of lab experiments peppered throughout the book, newspaper articles, interviews…it was helpful to read along for those parts.

And remember last month when I was bitching because of that one book, Kill Creek, was so nauseatingly descriptive? SO IS THIS BOOK. Except that by nauseatingly descriptive, I mean that the writing is SO FUCKING GOOD that I actually felt like I was going to puke. I 100% couldn’t eat while reading this and I’m not going to lie: there were chunks that I had to skip because it was animal-related and just…written so skillfully that it was like watching it on TV. Nick Cutter is GOOD.

Henry was sitting next to me on the couch when I was reading this page and HIS HAT FELL OFF AND LANDED ON MY SHOULDER, CAUSING ME TO SHRIEK SHRILLY AND JUMP IN THE AIR.

After I read it, I found out that Nick Cutter also writes under the name Craig Davidson, the author of Saturday Night Ghost Club, which I read last month and also loved! His Nick Cutter alter-ego is definitely more gross, though, ha.

3. Radio Silence – Alice Oseman

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My favorite BookTuber, Kat from Paperbackdreams, is always going on and on about how this is her favorite book, so I finally picked it up. It was interesting to me because it follows a British girl in her last years of high school, preparing for college, and I know next to nothing about how the UK school system works so I learned a lot about that, for instance, I was like, “The fuck is an A-level” but now I know.

I think this book would have had more an impact on me if I was younger, and having that post-high school crisis; but as it is, I’m 40 years old and far-removed from exams and college applications (although I guess that will be my reality in a few years with Chooch), but I still really enjoyed this story. It brought back some belly-aching sensations though when the main character, Francis, has a falling out with her best friend—isn’t it amazing how, no matter how long ago high school was, those sick feelings in the pit of the stomach can be recalled almost instantaneously. Or is that just me? Lol.  God, anytime a memory pops up of some teenage confrontation, I feel nauseated like it just happened yesterday.

Oh, the one thing I really loved about this book is the broad LGBTQ+ representation, and the fact that this book doesn’t involve the two main characters falling in love (not a spoiler, it’s mentioned very early on in the book). That was refreshing! A boy and girl simply….being friends. We love to see it.

Bonus: a smidge of Korean shows up in!

<3

4. Convenience Store Woman – Sayaka Murata

Convenience Store Woman

For as short as this book is (around 170 pages, I think?), it wasn’t a quick read for me. I could only read so many pages at once before losing interest, and it made me sad because I had high hopes for this book based on what I heard about it. I’m going to chalk it up to bad translation, maybe? I think something must have definitely gotten lost.

The premise is that this 36 year old Japanese woman has been working in a convenience store for like, 19 years. There are little dips into her childhood and she’s portrayed as perhaps a blossoming psychopath. So she gets this job at convenience store, becomes obsessed with the comfortable predictability of her days, the safe routine, and essentially uses it as a “manual” to act like a human. She is basically faking it to make it, and when she is eventually forced to leave her job, she has no basis of knowing how to live or act anymore.

It makes me wish I knew Japanese so that I could read it as it was originally written because I really feel like this book had to have been better than this. Especially because a lot of the blurbs on the back cover talked about how funny it was and that was lost on me, yo. I gave it a 3 on Goodreads, but I think maybe a 2.5 is more accurate.

5. The Poet X – Elizabeth Acevado

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YES. YES YES YES. This is 100% a book I never would have picked up on my volition, but I saw that the audio book was available on Overdrive and I kept hearing about how wonderful the audio version is because it’s read by the author herself. Yeah boi, this was a real gift. It’s written in slam-poetry format which should have deterred me because I don’t like a poetry, but hearing it read by Elizabeth Acevado was so compelling.

It’s a coming-of-age story about a 15-year-old Dominican who lives in NYC, her secret love of writing, her strained relationship with her ultra-strict and religious mom, her bond with her twin brother, her questioning of religion, her falling in love. I recommend the audio book but also getting a physical copy because it’s fun to read along since it’s written in prose.

6. Evvie Drake Starts Over – Linda Holmes

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I picked this up 100% based on the cover. I kept seeing it in the current best sellers display at the library and I finally snatched it up. I mostly listened to the audiobook though, because I had two back-to-back work from home days early in March so I cruised through it then. It was…fine. Predictable. The dialogue was nice but I admittedly didn’t enjoy the narrator too much. Her male voices were questionable, like they were all suddenly royalty. It was a nice feel-good read but it won’t stick with me.

7. Red, White, & Royal Blue – Casey McQuiston

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I was LOVING this at first! It’s a Post-Obama America. We have A DEMOCRATIC WOMAN PRESIDENT. Her kids are BIRACIAL – MEXICAN! Haha, fuck you, Trump! The First Son has a years-long feud with one of the Princes of England, Henry. It’s a classic hate-to-love trope but what I hated was that it goes to “love” way too quick. And then the character of the First Son, Alex, starts to get super annoying and I honestly began to wonder why Henry settled for him.

There’s a little bit of politics here, some seriously fun side characters (who were way more interesting than Alex, to be honest), and the obvious WHAT WILL THEY THINK ABOUT US dilemma. What I didn’t like was that it was awkwardly smutty. I think that it needed way more faux-hateful buildup – Casey McQuinton gave it away too fast. The second half of the book was just not Fun Times for me, as a reader. I wanted to be rooting for them way harder than I was but instead I was just like, “Come on, Henry, you can do better.”

Which is, coincidentally, what people have been saying to my Henry since 2001!

8. The Incendaries – R.O. Kwon 

The Incendiaries

This is about a religious cult with ties to North Korea. I listened to the audiobook for this but also had the physical copy on hand, which is the best way for me personally to listen to audio books. The narrator had a pretty boring, monotone voice, so that didn’t help, but the writing was really beautiful. Just extremely lovely. I love how the narrative was woven in between three characters: John Leal, the leader of the cult; Phoebe, an American Korean who gets sucked into the cult; and Will, Phoebe’s boyfriend who is leery of what is happening but unable to stop it.

I actually didn’t like Will and so all of his chapters were difficult for me to get through. I kept picturing Penn Badgley because Will reminded me a bit of Joe, the main character from “You.” He was obsessed and consumed with the idea of Phoebe, and of being with her, to the point where it was pretty clear that he didn’t even see her as a person. She was way out of his league, like your typical Prince Henry to First Son Alex. It just made me feel uncomfortable. It was a short book though, so I didn’t have to be “uncomfy” for too long. I think I gave this a 3.5, but R.O. Kwon can really throw down a shiny sentence. I’d read more of her shit, but this one just wasn’t exactly what I was looking for.

I AM SEW GUD AT REVIEWING BOOKZ.

9. Here We Are Now – Jasmine Warga

Here We Are Now

Another audiobook and physical book tag-team action with this one, and I’m really glad because the main character’s mom is Jordanian and the narrator used the most beautiful accent when speaking her parts! This was just really cute. Teenager daughter meets her rock star dad for the first time while mom is away in Paris, and goes on a road trip with him back to his hometown because his dad is dying. She finally gets to learn the history of her parents, how they met, why it didn’t work, which one left. I could see this being turned into a Netflix movie – it was really sweet and there are so many super hipster music references peppered throughout so I could only imagine how stacked the soundtrack would be.

The mom character is such a great representative of a strong, independent woman and I loved that part of this book. “It wasn’t enough” is something that she says numerous times throughout the book and that resonated. DON’T SETTLE LIKE PRINCE HENRY DID!

Ughhhh!!

10. The Dream Thieves – Maggie Stiefvater

The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle, #2)

This is the second book in the Raven Cycle series – I read the first one last month and I fell in deep. I’m still kind of *scratches head* when it comes to the actual “quest” plot of this series, but THE CHARACTERS. From the Raven Boys to Blue and her houseful of psychics, I’m actually starting to dream about these people now. Obviously Gansey is my favorite, but Ronan’s “he’s gonna snap any minute” brand of shitty snark is the perfect balance of menacing and “WHO HURT YOU??” There is a heart of gold under all of that abrasive armor. And he has a pet raven named Chainsaw, you guys. Come on.

I really regret not getting the last two books while the library was still open. :/ I’m still 16-years-old at heart, OK? Lay off.

It really is the problem. STAY HOME!!

11. Sometimes I Lie – Alice Feeney

Sometimes I Lie

This was a real fun ride, but I gotta be real: I didn’t quite understand the very last page? But if you’re down with unreliable narratives and a twist that I certainly didn’t see coming, then pick this up! Sometimes I have to stop myself from only reading thrillers, exclusively.

12. Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven

Well, this was a timely tome, wasn’t it? A new flu from Russia kills off 99.9% percent of the world’s population, but this novel mostly details on the aftermath, fastwarding 10-15 years into the future. It follows a traveling symphony and theater troupe, and it has Walking Dead vibes, without the zombies.

My favorite parts though were when the book jumped back into the past, building up relationships between some of the characters. Pre-pandemic, the main location was Toronto and I was so excited when Spadina was name-dropped because that is MY FAVORITE STREET IN TORONTO and it’s so fun to say!!

The writing was SO GOOD. I listened to the audiobook solely for this one and usually I have issues following along without the print copy, but this was so engaging that I never felt lost. Because of the current state of the world, though, this definitely gave me anxiety. I wouldn’t last a day if this was our reality.

A KIND REMINDER TO STAY HOME. COUGH IN YR FUCKING ELBOW OR BETTER YET JUST HOLD IT IN FOREVER. DONT JUST WASH YR HANDS, CUT THEM OFF.

13. Confessions – Kanae Minato

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THIS BOOK, WOWIE WOW WOW. A teacher’s 4-year-old daughter dies and it turns out one of her students did it (not a spoiler). The book is broken up into various narrators/parts and I swear to god, each part made me gasp and I couldn’t wait to see how it could possibly end.

My only complaint was that it was short and I wanted so much more, but apparently there was an Oscar-nominated short film made a few years ago and now I need to find that.

14. My Sister, the Serial Killer – Oyinkan Braithwaite

Loved this one too! Man, I was on a real good streak there for a minute. This book is another shortie–the chapters just cruise on by. I highly recommend the audio book for this one too because the author is Nigerian and there are lines here and there, primarily when the mom gets worked up, that are written in the native language (Igbo? Maybe?) and it just really adds to the story to be able to hear those parts spoken.

This played like a movie, or a Netflix series, in my head. So vivid. I cared about both sisters, but shit I just wanted all the best for the main, non-killer sister. This is such a fun, quick read, and I want a sequel.

15. Lock Every Door – Riley Sager

Lock Every Door

This book is always coming up on BookTube and I’m glad I was able to snag it on the library’s last day pre-lockdown. It wasn’t a game-changer in the Thriller World, by any means, but it was FUN. If you read my Friday Five from last week, you know that I compared it the old made-for-TV movie Nightmare on the Thirteenth Floor so there was a moment where I was ready to be disappointed, but then the plot pivots a bit and the twist is…a bit more realistic? Maybe? I mean, crazy shit happens in real life every day, so sure, we’ll believe it.

I added another Riley Sager book to my queue, Final Girls, so we’ll see if this was a fluke or nah.

16. The Ballad of Black Tom – Victor LaValle

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This was real interesting. I didn’t think I would like it because it’s set in the 1920s which doesn’t do it for me, and it’s also an homage to Lovecraft, whom I never much got into. But it held my attention and I was rooting for Black Tom. What a smartly written novella that combines Lovecraftian themes with the intense racism of the 1920s.

17. We Sold Our Souls – Grady Hendrix

We Sold Our Souls

Yeah, I’m done with this guy. I read “My Best Friend’s Exorcism” last month (or in January?) and I wanted to like it so much but it just kind of read like a really bland middle grade book. But I always see people recommending his books so I wanted to try one more – no. His style just really isn’t for me at all. His characters have no depth. Literally no development at all!

The premise of this book is so great: the singer of a small-time metal band from the 90s basically screws over the bandmates and goes on to become this mega-star while the rest of them, specifically the guitarist and co-founder of the band, Kris, are left in the dust. The whole book is about Kris’s mission to confront him, but it turns out that there’s devil shit at play and demonic obstacles in the way.

I just didn’t care. These characters like cardboard to me, and the cheesiness is just off the charts. I threw it across the room when I was done and then felt bad because it’s a library copy. :/

Other than that, I thought the cover was nice and I liked that the edges of the pages were black?

~~~~~~~~

Man, my desire to get back into reading couldn’t have come at a better time. I have so many books to devour that I almost don’t care that I can’t leave the house.

Almost.

Mar 272020
 

Hello from Week 2 of Covid House Arrest. Things are still weird but I’m grateful that I have a job that allows us to work from home, where I can stay safe with Chooch who is mostly fine to be around, I guess. We both have our moments. Then Henry comes home and creates all of the waves. Anyway, here is a weekday recap because perhaps one day when Chooch is an old man, he will want to reflect on these times with his grandchildren who will shake their heads and ask, “You mean people in 2020 didn’t have Pluto pods to retreat to while the Space Medics eradicated the virus harbingers with lasers?” and Chooch will be all, “No, things were super primitive back then. Civilization had a lot of rebuilding to do post-Donald Trump.”

MONDAY

Oh great. Another week of no structure/routine/discipline. Chooch and I scream randomly now for no reason and respond to each other with aggressively curt “ok cool”s. Welcome to Hell House.

I decide early on that I won’t lose myself to news alerts. This lasts about 36 seconds and I’ve circled back to Chest Pain City.

Chooch lit crackers on fire and threw them outside into the rain. This is where we are now, activity-wise. Setting food aflame. Can we consider this some sort of school experiment? A home-ec/science crossover event?

“Put your headphones back on and listen to your dumb audio book,” Chooch spat after I told him to do something worthwhile.

My team at work has an email thread going where we’re sharing pictures of our pets but mine are sleeping in their secret spots so I share a picture of my non-furry pet instead – he is so happy!

He was in the middle of menacingly saying “what are you going to do with that?”

Henry forwarded both of us a text from the school and we both responded with CAPSLOCK’d shittiness, unbeknownst to each other. Mine was “OH FUCKING KAY.”

Chooch went outside to kick a soccer ball against the house and it hit him in the face, so I’m just going to go ahead and call that as my highlight.

Henry has been home for over an hour but is “napping.” Now we’re screaming MAKE FUCKING DINNER up the steps.

He finally came down and made dinner. I can’t remember what he made. Everything has melded together in my mind. I have to constantly look at my phone to see what day it is.

My friend Veronica alerted me to this!!

TUESDAY

Today is my mom’s birthday. Unrelated, Henry found her toilet paper and dropped it off on her porch. Weird timing, but happy birthday! Enjoy your toilet paper!

Meanwhile, Chooch and I are decidedly office nemeses now. I was trying to listen to an audiobook (“Station Eleven” – super good and um, very timely) but I kept hearing his stupid YouTube videos playing in the other room, even over my headphones so there was a lot of TURN IT DOWN!!!s happening. And he was like, “I can hear your stupid audio book through your headphones!” and I was like, “I HAVE TO KEEP IT LOUD TO BLOCK OUT YOUR STUPID SHIT AND THE BABIES CRYING NEXT DOOR!”

Then I had to call into a meeting and Chooch kept screaming, “SHE SAID YOU’RE ANNOYING!”

“I have it muted, dumb-stick,” I scoffed. Like, does he think I was born yesterday?

It really was a super long meeting though. In other work news, one of the group emails I was on featured a discussion about what cozy clothes we were wearing and I had zero will or desire to participate. I’m basically feral at this point. Don’t talk to me.

No wait, talk to me! I DON’T KNOW WHAT I WANT ANYMORE!

On my break, Chooch and I ran laps around the empty church parking lot across the street. I’m too afraid to venture anywhere farther than that.

Then we looked up allegedly “easy” vegan recipes that we could potentially make during the day since our chef isn’t home, but the first one I put on immediately wanted us to peel a potato and I screamed PEEL IT YOURSELF and started to look for another recipe video but lost interest at an alarming speed and put on a Booktube video instead. But then Chooch found some “Easy Naan-type bread” video but it called for lemon juice for some reason and we don’t have that, so he texted Henry “bring home lemon juice” 8x and Henry responded, “Do you need lemon juice?” because he thinks he’s so fucking funny, about as funny as a fifth grade science teacher from the 70s.

Anyway, Henry came home from work with the lemon juice and suddenly Chooch is a bread baker. I had zero hand in it, which is probably why it turned out ok. He came out of the kitchen with a ball of dough in his meat-mitts and said, “Mom! Look!” and I was like, “Holy shit, that looks like real dough and not that weird-ass paste shit we made last week!” which, to be fair, we determined was my fault because I threw the recipe in the air and just plopped everything together in a bowl at once, and apparently there is a reason why you need to mix the dry ingredients alone and then SLOWLY add the wet shit LITTLE BY LITTLE. Who knew?!

I guess a trillion bakers before me.

They turned out really good and we’re actually un-raw in the middle I like the ones we made last week.

Other than that, we just screamed at each other A LOT and fake-fought.

I finally started watching Itaewon Class that night and finished two books. Henry said, “I hate ‘Reading Erin'” and Chooch said, “Same.” Apparently I shush them too much and get really irritated when they try to live their lives around me.

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Park Seo Joon is so good!

Then I finished reading “Confessions” by Kanae Minato (40th book of the year!) and went to bed.

WEDNESDAY

Somehow I broke my back. It’s probably from sitting in a non-office chair all fucking day long.

The law firm wanted people to submit selfies of their home work spaces and I looked much better in my other attempts but I had to use this one because Drew’s in the background. I dunno, kind of cheesy but I appreciated that they’re trying to do things like this to keep the mood light-hearted during these stressful times. It’s like, every time I start to feel like I’m going to have a heart attack, I remind myself that literally the whole entire world is in this together. Kind of make it seem a little less lonely?

Back to reality: Major mom/son conflict off and on all day. We are basically just siblings fighting control.

Henry came home and immediately started talking to me while I was clearly listening to an audio book so I snapped.

“She does this to me all day,” Chooch said, buddying up to Henry. “I hate Book Mother.”

“I hate Book Mother, too,” Henry mumbled but then Chooch and I reunited in our mutual need for dinner so we both turned on Henry WHO WENT AND DID LAUNDRY INSTEAD so we had to make our own dinner?! Faux-chicken nugs it is.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Henry confirmed that he takes sanitary wipes into the laundromat so that he does not have to touch anything, because I am sure someone is probably side-eyeing up a storm.)

Oh wait back up: before Henry went to do laundry, he first had to take his daily “post-work nap” which lasts forever. While he was up there, I was scrolling through Instagram. My friend Jessy posted a video of her husband cutting down a tree in their yard with a chainsaw. My phone was still connected to the Bluetooth speaker in our bedroom so I let the video play on full blast, promoting a string of “WTF” and “fuck you” texts from Henry. Quarantine entertainment.

While Henry was doing laundry, we found a three-ingredient peanut butter cookie recipe but we didn’t have sugar substitute so Chooch texted Henry and asked him to get some but then proceeded to ignore all of Henry’s texts asking “WHAT KIND OF SUGAR SUB” because he was too engrossed in Minecraft which he has literally been playing since he was like 4 at this point when will it end. So Henry brought home a box of generic Splenda and Chooch and I had to open packet after packet to fill a half cup but halfway through a 1/4 cup, I decided to actually look at the recipe and felt suspiciously like we were doing it wrong – it was the wrong kind of sugar substitute! We needed granulated stuff that sounds like urethra. I forget what it’s called now. Anyway, Henry said to just use less and it would be fine but holy fucking shit Chooch essentially baked Splenda patties with a peanut butter essence. I had two cookies 90 minutes ago and my stomach hurts and I feel like my throat is coated with sweetener please send help, should I swallow fire?

We scream-laughed a lot today. We’re all perched on the lunacy fringe over here. Come visit. Oh wait, you can’t.

Watched the This Is Us season finale and promptly went in the backyard to dig my grave.

This drama premiered tonight in Korea and I hope that it finds its way to Netflix or Viki soon because KIM MYUNG SOO as a CAT? Yes.

‪Auto correct on Duolingo changed “butcher shop” to “bitch ship.” I have little else going on so this is in the running for highlight of the day. ‬

I’m going to bed soon, with the frightening wonder of what food project Chooch will attempt tomorrow.

THURSDAY

Woke up to a new Winner video! I shared it with my team at work, and received approx. zero replies.

I was so fidgety before logging on to work for my late shift that I, get this, CLEANED THE DISH STRAINER in the kitchen. I DID THAT! I don’t think I have ever performed an act of greater domesticity. COVID-19 has broken me.

Don’t worry, the rest of the kitchen is still an absolute pit.

While I was at the sink, I observed that HNC and Slut Life were both in the driveway!! HNC was fiddling around in his garage while Slut Life was preparing to drive out of his garage. I’m not sure if they had any interaction prior to this because I wasn’t paying attention, but I started watching just in time to catch Slut Life peel out of the driveway, causing HNC to stand at the bottom of the driveway, hands akimbo, watching him retreat while shaking his head in disgust.

I started speaking to Chooch in a new, made-up accent. He immediately asked me to stop.

Chooch was watching some video about death row inmates’ last meals and he’s angry for some reason that Timothy McVeigh chose two pints of mint chocolate chip ice cream.

“Why is that so terrible?” I asked.

“He probably got a stomach ache!” Chooch cried.

“He’ll probably be dead before he notices his stomach hurts!” I yelled and so that’s how we fought about mint chocolate chip ice cream.

Yay henry ordered us dinner from Zenith! He said when he went to get it, one of the owners asked, “Do Erin and Chooch have cabin fever yet?” I love that the Zenith people know us haha.

Yeah boi seitan BBQ, rice noodle salad, and pumpkin cake.

Chooch got lasagna and then remembered that he doesn’t like lasagna after he ate nearly the whole thing. Teenagers are fucking dumbos.

OMG Peenlop’s tongue lol.

Well, all hell just broke loose and we had a faux-battle because Chooch wants to make oatmeal raisin cookies and I was like, “But we got cake from Zenith” and he was like “YOU RUIN EVERYTHING” and I was like, “GOOD GOD JUST MAKE YOUR DUMB COOKIES, BITCH BOY” but he was like JUST FORGET IT and started fake-crying so then I went over and we started play-hitting and Drew was like THIS HOUSE IS STRESSFUL and then Henry tripped over the cat tunnel and I almost peed my pants and Henry was like YOU TWO ARE FUCKING ANNOYING and went upstairs to take a nap…at 5:45PM. Cool.

Meanwhile, Chooch the Crybaby is in the kitchen making his stupid cookies because he apparently has awakened a latent baking gene while in COVID-lockdown.

Here’s where we are right now, 7:30PM:

I wish Janna never showed him how to use this lighter!! (Actually, I secretly secondhand learned how to use it then too lol.)

Knife throwing starts next week.

Thursday ended with us watching the first two episodes of the new Kim Myung Soo drama that I posted the trailer for in yesterday’s recap which sent me on a full-blown Infinite video watching spiral (Kim Myung Soo is a member of Infinite when he’s not busy lighting up televisions with his perfect cherub visuals) and then Chooch got super cat-psycho (he gets so annoyingly affectionate with our cat Drew) so we screamed at him to go to bed and you know now that I think about it, aside from Chooch and I being home together during the day for the time being, things are honestly not much different than they were pre-quarantine: it’s still fucking pandemonium here.

FRIDAY

It is 3:07pm and I have almost nothing to report. Today is the blandest of all the other bland days. I spent a lot of time on calls for the first half of the day and that was greatly annoying to Chooch but,  you know, welcome to the world of shared work spaces, pal.

I finished “Lock Every Door” by Riley Sager. It gave me strong “Nightmare on the 13th Floor” vibes, where all of my Made for TV movie fans at!? Holla at me if you remember that one.

Nightmare on the 13th Floor | VHSCollector.com

Meanwhile, Chef Chooch-R-Dee accidentally paid $2 for some vegan recipe app which angered Henry but I was like, “Oh well, start cookin’, buddy.”

During my lunch break, we braved the streets of Brookline so I could mail something. I took tissues with us so that I wouldn’t have to touch the handle of the mail box outside of the post office. It seemed like the few people who were out were practicing safe social distancing measures, except that we saw our nemesis CVS cashier—“1212”—-standing outside of the store talking to someone and there only seemed to be TWO FEET of space between them so that’s cool.

One of the groups I’m a part of had a check-up call today and it was really awkward because we had to take turns talking alphabetically while everyone else stayed muted, so it just felt like I was bombing at open mic night, big time. I’d say something and pause, and of course no one was responding because they were muted, and I was like gulping for air on my end. It was so uncomfortable. In my other group, it’s just like a free-for-all on these calls, lol.

Chooch’s Instagram memories reminded him that on this day two years ago, we were at Everland, an amusement park in South Korea. THANKS, INSTAGRAM. I’m going to wear my Everland headband in honor of that memory.

Henry is home now. Chooch is showing him a recipe from his new $2 app that he wants to make and it requires a “nine-spice mix” and Henry was like “the fuck is that” and it turns out it’s another recipe, so basically a recipe within a recipe, and now Henry is like, “THIS IS TURNING INTO A 5-20-FORTY DOLLAR RECIPE!”

“We have warm water,” Chooch said, reading off the ingredients five minutes later. Literally one of the only ingredients we have, lol. Henry wants to kill him.

Oh! Henry brought home fudge brownie M&Ms which now holds the title for highlight of the day. CAN ANYTHING TAKE THE CROWN? Only time will tell.

Friday afternoon lunacy selfie! One day, Chooch and I will have so many stories to tell about this time while we’re roasting chestnuts over an open fire, preferably in whatever haunted mansion he’s bought me from his math genius career earnings. I’m tired of sitting at this desk, but thankful that that’s pretty much my only complaint right now.

Chooch is revisiting his Shane Dawson obsession so I have heard his big dumb mouth in the background pretty much all week and I am definitely not a fan.

Holy fucking shit, in the last hour, Slut Life has come and gone at least 5x!! Like, he leaves and then returns within 10 minutes – maybe he should just walk!? And it’s so annoying because his bass is SO LOUD in his car and it takes him forever to maneuver the car into the narrow-ass city garage that we have in these houses. I just texted HNC about it. I AM “THAT NEIGHBOR” who watches the neighborhood from the dining room window and I literally do not care. This shit runs in my family. Gimme my binoculars.

(We actually did find binoculars at the living room window when we had to clean out my Pappap’s house. My Aunt Sharon was serious about Neighborhood Watch.)

Logged off work and Chooch and I went across the street for some churchyard Fündopop fun times!

Also!! HNC texted me back and said that he and Slut Life got into it the other day and Slut Life peeled out of the driveway (I witnessed that!!) and he apparently kicked up a chunk of asphalt in the process! HNC is writing a letter to the landlord since calling him didn’t work. He said he mentioned me in the letter. I’m so excited! I get a mention!! No one ever mentions me anymore!!

On that note, I think I will put this weekday roundup to bed. If anything amazing (doubtful) happens between now and the time I go to bed, you best believe I’ll be updating this. But life in isolation is pretty boring, and you know what? THAT’S JUST FINE. I feel, I dunno, blessed to be bored right now, like I should have an embroidery of that hanging in my kitchen or something.

Mar 142020
 

Hello from Brookline. So far, there have been no reports of anyone testing positive with coronavirus in my neighborhood, big it was announced last Thursday that a student at Chooch’s school may have been exposed to it from a relative who had traveled out of state, so his school, along with 4 other schools in Pittsburgh, were closed yesterday as a precaution and so the schools could employ “electro-magnetic” sterilization, which sounds super space-y.

But then on Friday, the governor announced that all PA schools will be closed for at least two weeks, at which point they will reassess the situation. Chooch, being a kid, is excited because it’s like a snow day on steroids, except that some of us could die, but that’s OK: live it up, kids.

Because of this, our director at work gave us permission to work from home, so when Chooch found THAT out, the desirability of staying home from school was suddenly tainted, lol. MOMMY AND CHOOCH TIME. I’m going to make sure he has designated blocks of reading time, he’s going to do writing assignments, and he’s also going to watch some documentaries.

(“I’m watching one on Ted Bundy, then,” he said today, and that’s fine. He can help me design some new cards afterward.)

So it’s kind of like being quarantined, but not. Henry still has to go to work, but I am happy that I won’t need to be taking public transportation now during such uncertain, unclean times.

Then I got an email from the library, saying that after today, they are going to be shutting down until the 31st. I figured this was coming because Chooch was there on Friday and the entire children’s area was closed off, and that’s where he and his friend Markie have to go to use the computers because Markie isn’t 13 yet so he can’t use the ones upstairs. So last night, I frantically made a list of some of the books on my Goodreads “want to read” list that are available at the local branch of my library, leapt out of bed at 8am, got showered and dressed, only to remember that the dumb library doesn’t open until 10, ugh.

Anyway, I got there right at 10 and Chooch and I put on gloves that were available on a cart of sterilization products, and I acted like all those preppers hoarding toilet paper, except instead of Charmin, I had an armful of fiction.

I checked out 7 books, plus I still have 4 already checked out, so I’m hoping this will tide me over! Especially since I will have extra free time on Saturdays for a bit because Jiyong suggested that we hold off on meeting up for now, considering we meet in a perpetually-crowded Panera. Paneras are gross enough without a pandemic in the midst. Henry said he will help me practice my vocabulary though which scares me but we’ll see; maybe he will actually help.

But he will probably fall asleep.

Don’t judge me by YA/Teen Fiction selections, OK! Sometimes I like having something light to fall back on after reading something especially scary or ultra-literary.

I hope everyone’s staying safe, smart, and healthy out there and don’t forget to check in on your elders. It’s fucking scary, but we will get through this if everyone takes it seriously and stops doing selfish things.*

*(For instance, all of those idiot YouTube travel vloggers are still out there traveling for content and it makes me so angry. Especially when I see them getting all combative and responding to coronavirus-related comments with snarky slapbacks like “We’re healthy and not worried about dying from it but you do you #thumbsupemoji” NOPE. NOPE NOPE NOPE. That’s exactly what I was saying too A MONTH AGO when we started to consider postponing our trip that’s scheduled for April, except that MY sentence had a “but”: “…but I don’t want to risk contracting the virus and spreading it to those who are weaker/older/more susceptible than me, just because I wanted to go to some amusement parks and have fun.” That is the part that not everyone is grasping. We will go another time. Right now, the most important thing is to stay sanitary and informed. Fuck those people.)

UPDATE! I remembered that another library exists within walking distance so I ran down there and expanded my pile. Look, I can’t request books during this time so I need to be prepared! Worst case scenario, I start pulling from Chooch’s bookshelf. Minecraft 101, oh boy.

Mar 122020
 

I’m trying to support Asian establishments as much as possible since this pandemic has stoked the racism fire. Yesterday, I restocked my snack pumpkin at Lotus Foods then got coffee at Bae Bae’s Cafe, and tonight we ordered dinner from Tong Garden.

This was my fortune, which is SO APROPOS it makes my stomach hurt.

I keep thinking that someday this will hopefully be a distant memory, a chapter in an upcoming Trump Sucks biography, a segment from VH1’s I Love the 20s that makes us groan, maybe even something that WE CAN LEARN FROM?! One day there will be a list of Worst Coronavirus Responses and the good ol’ bull-headed USA will be right at the top.

Mar 112020
 

Feeling nostalgic & going through my Korea photos. I loved taking daily elevator OOTD snaps with Chooch. I’m too stressed out and tired for much else right now so here is a collection of those photos before I retreat to my corona-bubble. Stay sanitary, smart, and healthy out there, chingu.

This was actually a mirror in one of the subway stations, not the elevator from our hotel, SO SUE ME.

Maybe there will be more Korean elevator selfies in my future but right now I’m just mainly hoping that we find a vaccine for the coronavirus, the world can get back to “normal” whatever that means, and that the American racists will go back into their hidey-holes. The anti-Asian vitriol is one of the saddest parts of this pandemic. :(

Mar 102020
 

It’s Girl Scout Cookie season so perhaps you want to hunker down with a plate of Do-Si-Dos as your companion-cookie of choice while reading another stupidly-titled blog post of mine. (And not Dos-i-Dos, which I originally typed because I couldn’t remember how to spell the dumb Girl Scout cookies, but apparently, Dos-i-Dos is a marijuana strain, so here’s your fun fact for the day!)

(Unless you’re a regular Spicoli and already knew that.)

(No judgment.)

I’m doing this bulletpoint-style because my mind is so fucking broken and scattered into a million dangerous shards, so buckle up, baby.

  • Saturday started with Henry taking Chooch to his future-new-school for a math placement test, which started at 9AM. Chooch was grossly excited about this and I was like, “I’ll just hang back, m8*” While they were gone, the mail came which included a congratulations letter from the school district because apparently some artwork of Chooch’s was submitted to a citywide art show thing, I don’t know, I can’t remember and I don’t have the paper in front of me, but it was chosen and we have some reception (with light desserts, lol) to go to and I’m really excited to see what the (light) desserts are and also what this mysterious piece of art is because evidently, Chooch himself has no idea what it is. I think it’s pretty FUNNY that he spent most of his life at his current school thinking that he sucks at art and dreading art class because the art teacher was such a dumb bitch who, according to an alum from that school, loves to criticize and terrorize young, impressionable children. I’ve written about her before on here and honestly, I’m kind of sad that she left at the end of last year because I never had a chance to properly lay into her with Scalding-Hot Erin Words. But, now the school has a new art teacher and THIS was the result. He suddenly remembered that he actually likes art!
    • *The last book I read was about a bunch of British teenagers, so……….
  • In Korean news, I was right about something and Jiyong was wrong! And then I was so smug about it and she was like, “OK.” (I was translating a sentence and used the word “bo-tong” for “usually” and SHE SAID I WAS WRONG AND TOLD ME TO USE A DIFFERENT WORD and I was like slowly erasing my word and writing, with hesitation, her suggestion, but then she was like, “Wait….no, you can use bo-tong. Yes, that’s right.” And that’s the word that the textbook had in their translation on the next page, what what. It was a small, very small, victory. But I take what I can get.
  • Later that night, Chooch needed new shoes so we went to Kohl’s and I had this really weird moment where I saw a shirt that I liked and couldn’t remember if I had it so I asked Henry, “Do I have this shirt” and he was like, “Hilarious that you think I ever look at your clothes” and then I was like, “No, I think I have it. Yeah, I do.” So I didn’t buy it, but then when we got home, I looked in my closet and couldn’t find it, so I was like, “DID I MEAN TO BUY IT BUT THEN PUT IT BACK?” and of course Henry is useless when it comes to remembering anything from a month ago, but my memory is usually pretty OK and I absolutely had no recollection of putting the shirt back, or paying for it, or ever wearing it aside from when I tried it on—that much I remembered from a month ago! Last night, Henry was getting ready to buy it online because we had Kohl’s cash, and he was going to pick it up today, but for some reason, I thought the in-store price that I saw on Saturday was lower, so I was like, “Eh, just hold off. We’ll just buy it at the store” so he didn’t buy it and good thing BECAUSE I RANDOMLY FOUND IT IN MY CLOSET THIS MORNING, probably because I wasn’t looking for it. And yes, I wore it to work. Anyway, this is my totally ridiculous cautionary tale about what happens when you have too many clothes.
  • Sunday, the weather was so gorgeous! I always say that March is so underrated. I get so hopeful every time this year because we get so many little tastes of spring, a reminder to HANG THE FUCK ON, BUCKAROOS. Henry and I went for a walk in Schenley Park that afternoon and talked about the fate of our upcoming trip…
    • We ultimately decided a while back to postpone it in light of the coronavirus. I know there are so many people in America who think everyone is overreacting, and they don’t understand why we’re afraid to go to Germany when the CDC hasn’t issued any travel warnings or restrictions for that area, but look: there are more and more cases being reported daily in Germany and that general part of Europe. It is SO CLOSE TO ITALY. While all three of us are healthy people, and we’re not worried about dying from it, there are so many at-risk people out there and as much as I love having fun and traveling, I am not selfish enough to carry on with a frivolous trip where we could potentially bring COVID-19 back with us and then spread it to those who are at-risk. Nope. Nope nope nope. We will go later in the year, that’s OK. It’s not the end of the world.
      • OR IS IT?!!??!!?
  • In non-corona news, I got really angry on the drive to the park, because some dumb Halsey song came on and I ranted to no one (Henry doesn’t listen to me) about how I am so ready for this trend of female pop singers singing like woodland creatures to be over. I want to drop-kick Haley’s voice back over the Bridge to Terabithia. BUHBYE.

  • In around-the-house news, Henry finally hung up some of my clowns and fixed the faucet in the kitchen which has been fucked for years (really hard to turn off the cold water side) and suddenly he felt inspired to fix it but then he admitted it was really because he decided to not half-ass it for once and actually look to see that the problem was AND THEN FIGURED IT OUT LIKE A REAL BIG MAN-MAN.

  •  Then I completed my 30 book challenge for the year! 30 books since January! I rule at books! I immediately set off on foot to the library to return it (there has to be some library-specific OCD sub-diagnosis for this) and then Henry drove by on his way home from The Store. He did a doubletake and I mouthed I FINISHED BOOK THIRTY!!! and I bet he was like wow obsessive book-readers make me hot. Or…not.
  • Later that night I remembered that This Is Us exists so I started watching the newer episodes from the second half of this season and then remembered that this is the worst show in the world while I gagged in tears and phlegm.

Peace out, Girl Scout (but not any of these annoying ones aggressively screaming at people to buy their damn cookies on the boulevard).

Mar 012020
 

BIGBANG win:

BTS win:

If your answer is: One has clear displays of respect on both sides and one clearly lacks that, you’re correct! One of the things I loved about Kpop when I first got into it was how there seemed to be a distinct lack of arrogance among the bigger/senior groups. The Asian culture of bowing as a sign of respect is not tossed out the window once a certain level of fame is achieved, but watching BTS’s recent music countdown win, I think they’re maybe spending too much time around Americans lol.

BIGBANG are legends but stay humble and never act like they’re above their industry peers even when those groups are clearly in awe of them. BIGBANG FOREVER!

Feb 282020
 

I bought tickets to the 15 year anniversary tour of Armor For Sleep’s “What To Do When You Are Dead” album and now I have a little over 4 months to prepare my heart for the inevitable suffering it’s going to endure that night. Goddamn this album was my audio Bible for some Big Times in life.

In other news, a bunch of people at work have the flu, and one of them had been handling food for a Fat Tuesday party at work but thankfully I was off that day and never ate any of the leftovers the next day but great – now I have a new sub-phobia to add to my growing list of food fears. I might take the day off every time there is an office party now. TERRIFIC.

I am fixated on taking my temperature now, it’s like my new nervous tick. I took it five times in a row last night and Henry was like PLZ STOP OMG.

Today I texted him, freaking out because my temperate was 99.4.

BITCH, BEST BELIEVE.

I only took my temperature twice at work though because it makes beeping sounds and it is SO QUIET in our quadrant and I didn’t want people to be like WHY ARE YOU CONSTANTLY TAKING YR TEMPERATURE and then an Erin has corona rumor will start probably, so then I was going to take it to the bathroom but I didn’t want to just traipse around with my fancy forehead temperature reader. I considered shoving it in the waistband of my pants but would that be worse? probably. So instead I googled “how to be normal” and “tutorial for staying calm and carrying on” until I got distracted by an AllKpop news alert.

I don’t know if it’s psychosomatic but I feel like I have the flu-chills now so THAT IS GREAT. I already told Jiyong I can’t meet tomorrow because I might have the flu by then, who knows? I guess I’ll know.

Current temperature: 98.6.

Feb 052020
 

I realized today that the picture I’ve been using as my desktop background at work for the last few months now is a picture from Starfield Library at the Coex Mall in Seoul. It’s giving me inspiration to stay committed to my reading challenge, and also making me REALLY want to go back to Korea super soon ugh.

Now that I’m into my second month of the challenge, I wanted to report back with some significant findings, such as the fact that my idle social media perusing is WAY DOWN. Don’t ask me if I watched your Story because I probably haven’t!

I’m also watching way less pointless YOUTUBE videos*, which was always my go-to after work routine while Henry is making my dinner haha. Now, I either walk to the library to pick up new requests that are waiting for me, or I stay home and read a chapter or two. I feel like the old me again!

*(except that now when I AM on YouTube, I’m watching “booktubers” – what kind of bizarre realm have I fallen into? Henry hates this new literary side of YouTube sooooo much, which makes me like it even more haha. Also, they tell me what to read so I don’t accidentally pick up garbage like I did over the summer when I needed a book for the plane and I grabbed Baby Teeth. Such a shitty book.)

I still have time set aside for Exercise every night so basically I just cut out all the dumb shit and filled those newly-empty time slots with book-reading and I already feel like my brain is making a comeback (whether that is reflected in my blogging remains to be seen though, ha).

So basically, this has been a big lesson in time management for me. I can’t tell you how much nervous energy I have been harboring these last few months, a culmination of stress and needing a new outlet I guess. Telling myself to stop saying “I don’t have time for that” and allowing myself quiet time to sit and read (Erin, it’s ok to sit down and relax!) has done wonders for my anxiety. (I mean, I’m still a spaz and can barely handle the most base human interactions but I’m…trying?)

I’m about to start my fourth book for February and I’m really excited! It feels like a game and I am scoring so many points! Woo.

Also, it annoys Chooch because I’m a fast reader and he hates when I can do anything better/faster than him so this has been such a big win in so many ways. Thank you, fake New Years Resolutions and Goodreads. You are making me a better and more competitive person. Erin rulz!!

What? I’m not manic. You’re manic.

Jan 212020
 

*(OK “romance” might be a stretch.)

So I guess Sundays have become “Henry Tries a New Coffee” Day. I’m totally fine with that because I love going to cafes but it’s no fun when I’m the only one enjoying it.

LOL wait a minute – who am I kidding? I only care about my own cafe pleasure!

The thing with Henry is that he has even less tolerance for any coffee cantina that’s gonna draw in The Influencers, OH YOU KNOW THE TYPES. So I have to really ease him into this scene by selecting laidback and neutral spots where middle-aged men with no fashion sense and calloused hands can nurse a drink without being eyeballed for wearing a flannel BUT NOT THE RIGHT FLANNEL.

We decided to go to the new Black Forge location. Henry’s been to the original place once and didn’t die from living botanical Instagram walls or impatient baristas who sigh because you want to actually look at the menu and then snap WE ONLY HAVE OAT when you audaciously ask for soy, what, I’m not going off an a personal tangent here or anything.

The thing with Black Forge is that it’s a DARK HAVEN. Like you’ve walked into Hell while all the fires are extinguished. Just, blackness everywhere. Metal-themed coffee drink names. Anti-Trump Administration punch cards. You’d expect the lot to be all motorcycles and hearses.

And the other thing with this place is that no one treats you like your eyeliner isn’t smoky enough or you don’t have enough tattoos or you’ve never Ghost.

(The band. Not the movie. God.)

Every single barista I have encountered here has been SO AWESOME. The young guy there on this day was all “Cool!” after each order we placed and you know, I felt like he really did think it was cool when I ordered the Unicorn Beat Blast with soy, hot. It made me feel more confident in my choice.

I walked away before Henry ordered because of the secondhand embarrassment I get upon overhearing him bungle drink orders. It’s so bad sometimes.

Henry got a cold brew with almond milk (simple enough to relay to the barista but I’m sure he still fucked it up) and I think he’s determined that this is His Drink now. He just can’t get behind hot coffee. He doesn’t like anything sweet in it, no sugar, sweetener, syrups. No whole milk. It’s almond or GTFO, I guess.

I’m selfishly excited about this because sometimes, SOMETIMES, Henry makes his own cold brew at home for me and it’s always the best when he does this because I love iced coffee too but not when I brew a pot and then dump ice in it. No. I like when Henry makes legit cold brew, so now that he suddenly has a taste for it, perhaps he will start making it again??

I just asked him.

“He used to make cold brew?” Chooch asked, his eyebrows pulled up in skepticism.

“Yeah like twice,” I scoffed.

“I MADE IT MORE THAN TWICE!” Henry yelled from his post at the Valentine Card Work Station.

Chooch is a Big Nope for coffee but he really likes a good chai latte and agrees with me that Crazy Mocha is the best, Starbucks can suck it, and Black Forge’s was “good once it cooled down.” OK Goldilocks.

There was a dog there and that was literally all Chooch cared about.

I have to give it to Henry though: he’s way less dramatic about this than I was when I was trying to force myself to like beer.

Maybe I’ll start a new series here where Henry reviews coffee every Sunday. I just proposed this to him and he scrunched up his face and walked away. I think that’s a yes! SEE YA BACK HERE ON SUNDAY FOR HENRY’S KOFFEE KLATCH!

Jan 072020
 

I originally posted this 4 years ago but it came up today at work and I felt inspired to re-share lest anyone forget that I’m a dick.

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I was joking the other day at work about how trouble follows me everywhere I go in that department, and why when I am clearly such a sweet, innocent, demure human being!? And it got me thinking about other jobs I had, where I was a holy terror on purpose and gave no fucks about it, because what was the worst that was going to happen? I was going to quit after three days and my mom would still pay my rent.

Rinse and repeat.

But if I had to pick a place that got the best version of Asshole Erin, it was definitely Echostar.

PICTURE IT: The year was 1998. I had recently lost the only steady job I ever had, as a telemarketer for Olan Mills Portrait Studio—which, coincidentally, is how I met the guy who got me to take the only bus ride of my life, which I mentioned last week. Joey was one of my cold calls (as opposed to those on the coveted and golden PAST CUSTOMER LIST) and after letting me pant my way through the whole portrait package spiel, he laughed and said, “Well, that sounds really great, except I don’t need it because I’m a photographer.” Turns out, he was in Pittsburgh going to the Art Institute for photography, and we REALLY HIT IT OFF over the phone. Like, instant connection. This is how people used to hook up back in the day! Over the phone, on sales calls. Anyway, my supervisor was starting to catch wind that I was no longer trying to make a sale, or at least, not the kind of sale I was being paid to make, so I quickly gave him my number and then we proceeded to stay up all night on the phone when I got home that evening and before I knew it, we were making wedding plans, moving to Montana, and buying a sheepdog. I mean, until I actually met him and then it was “……” But I still got on a bus with him and went to his place on the Southside, because I’m fucking smart.

OK OK, so our Olan Mills telemarketing branch got shut down (thanks, Internet) and my mom was started to put pressure on me to find something else. There was another telemarketing job after that, where I sold a credit card terminal to a tattoo shop and then got a free (and shitty) tattoo out of it, because back then I had A Personality and it was impossible for me to not make friends over the phone. Now I won’t even ANSWER the phone. So by this point, I had myself pigeon-holed to the telemarketing industry. It was apparently the only skill I had attained somehow. That’s a little known fact about dropping out of high school: you’re spilled out into this holding cell while everyone else is running off to college like normal, functioning humans, and you’re given two options: drugs or telemarketing. I had a mild interest in drugs back then, but then my friend Brian got me a job at Olan Mills and totally ruined that plan.

After quitting the credit card terminal place, I applied at Echostar (Dish Network), which had just opened a huge call center in McKeesport and it was like A Really Big Deal for us people who weren’t qualified to do anything much greater than bag groceries. It was so new that the call center wasn’t even finished, so the training classes were being held in this really old joint called the Peoples Building, and it was such a shady area that we had to have security guards escort us from the building to the parking garage every night. (Evening classes, ya’ll.)

What I will always remember the most about this job is that I started on the Monday directly after returning from Philly, where I had attended the Dracula’s Ball with my friend Cinn. I almost didn’t show up for my first class at all because my eyebrow piercing had become so infected from all the glitter I was wearing that evening, plus the fact that the new hoop was shoved in forcefully by some guy who looked like the guy Happy Gilmore shot with a nail gun to the point where I PASSED OUT IN HIS SHOP and woke up on a couch with him standing above me, holding a paper towel saturated with my blood, saying, “Wow, look how much you bled!” So all of these factors led to an eventual infection which caused my eyelid to swell up and I had to walk into this class room with my hair covering one side of my face, looking like I was trying to hide a black eye. But then I was like “Fuck it” and just started flaunting it and that was how I made a bunch of friends in that class on my very first day, by being the youngest person in the class who had a gross piercing story to share as an introduction.

(I ended up going to the emergency room right after class that night, where a doctor had to cut the ring out of my face while a nurse watched on and said, “This is exactly why I told my daughter she’s never getting pierced.”)

At the start of this first class, our trainer Mike had us go around the room and say our name with a descriptive adjective that started with the same letter. I fucking love these things because I’m a nerd, so when it was my turn, I shot out of my seat and cried, “EFFERVESCENT ERIN!” Everyone in the class laughed at  my enthusiasm, and that was basically the start of Mike’s infinite disdain for me.

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There were lots of tests and POP QUIZZES.

The class was a month long. We had to learn all about the company, customer service, operating the company’s computer system, and all of the various cable packages they offered. It was kind of like telemarketing and support combined: we had to help customers with issues they might be experiencing with their service while trying to upsale them at the same time. I was kind of torn, because I used TCI for my digital cable and I was obsessed with it. (This was pre-Comcast.) I loved TCI so much that I turned down a pretty nice apartment when I found out that the cable used in that area was ADELPHIA.

P-U.

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I sincerely wish I had stayed in touch with these people. They were fucking nuts.

So my heart was never really in this job from the get-go. (I mean, how much of a heart could one really put into this sort of job, anyway?) Class quickly became less of learning and more of an opportunity to hide behind computer terminals while passing notes and giggling with my new friends, Bobbie (a girl), Roniece, and Letecia.

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These girls though. They were the only reason I kept coming back to that class, night after night. One time, I arrived in tears because my pet frog Hubert had died that day. They helped me eulogize him on our break, and it was the sweetest thing that I will never forget. THEY WERE MY RIDE OR DIES, obviously, except that no one said that in 1998.

We were totally the bad kids, and very quickly we became A Class Divided: there was us and a handful of the other younger people plus some of the soccer moms (surprisingly) and then there were the Others, made up of the older women and the people who were surprisingly actually there to learn. They would get so fucking irate every time Mike would have to stop class to chastise one of us. It got really bad too, and if us Bad Kids wound up in the same place as some of the Others during our dinner break, they would get so ruffled and tight-lipped, like we had just sleazily oozed over the threshold, flicking our switchblades open and closed, popping our gum, and making cunnilingus Vs with our fingers.

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It was like being in college after all! Lol, j/k.

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One of the girls in our group got bitched at by Mike because he found out that she was sneaking out onto the fire escape to smoke. So then he had to have the building manager come up and lock the door to the fire escape, which made us scream dramatically about, “BUT WHAT IF THERE IS A FIIIIIIIRRRREEEEE?!” while cracking up behind his back.

There is one moment that stands out the most for me though, and that was the day we were learning how to add notes to customers’ accounts. The company was smart enough to make sure we were on a training server, so all of the customers were Jane and John Does. Trainer Mike was having each one of us take turns going into the fake accounts and adding notes based on the scenarios he read to us, so after the note was “published,” it would show up on everyone’s computer. I quickly realized that if I skipped ahead, I could add fake notes and then everyone else would see them by the time we made it to that particular account.

I quickly alerted my homegirls about this and we all giddily forged ahead and began adding childish notes, the only one I for sure remember was “Our trainer sucks ass.” NOT SAYING THAT WAS MINE.

But it was mine.

Needless to say, when the rest of the class, and Mike, stumbled upon these, there was a major uproar. The people on our side laughed and appreciated the effort of our antics, while the nerdy ones were appalled at our juvenile behavior and began clucking and whatever else old bitches do when they’re mad at the Youth of Today.

Mike was furious. I mean, this was his breaking point. You could practically see his pupils turning into boiling point thermostats, the veins popping out of his forehead like someone REALLY WAIST DEEP in some late night viewing of The Erotic Network, the LARGE FONT letters queuing up in his brain before exploding out into a “I DON’T GET PAID ENOUGH TO DEAL WITH THIS MOTHERFUCKING BULLSHIT” rant.

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When Mike eventually regained his composure—kind of—he pounded his fist against his desk and demanded that whomever did this, speak up.

Of course none of us did. And he definitely could narrow down the suspect pool to three. But Bobbie, Roniece and I just hunkered down lower, our faces red from stifled laughter.

Then he started threatening us.

“If no one comes forward, then the whole class will suffer!” he roared, and this made the Other Half of the class pivot in their seats, thrusting their fingers at the three of us, screaming about life’s injustices and their inability to get a good Echostar education thanks to our disruptive behavior and basic tomfoolery. Still, we wouldn’t take the blame.

(This morning, I was actually telling Henry this story, and through tears of laughter I said, “Can you believe those bitches were so upset over that? What losers.” 

“Yeah, imagine being concerned about your job,” Henry dryly replied.)

Mike then told us that the CEO of the company, Charlie Something-Or-Other, was coming to town to deal with this, that the fucking CEO OF THE COMPANY was flying in from COLORADO just to YELL AT OUR WHOLE CLASS.

Like, OK sure, Mike. We all knew he was coming in because the grand opening of the Pittsburgh location was that weekend. But still we were sure surprised the next night when fucking Charlie himself made a guest appearance in our dumb classroom, and proceeded to lecture us about respecting Mike, how he puts a great deal of effort into employing the BEST TRAINERS to provide the rest of us with the knowledge we need to succeed within the company. Mike stood to his right, hands clasped behind his back, looking smugger than a motherfucker grading Echostar tests.

It was fucking surreal. I loved/hated every moment of it. I think we were simultaneously proud that our actions warranted such a dramatic response, but also stunned that we didn’t get fired when we probably should have.

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Hilariously, that one lady back there in the pink turtleneck was the wife of some dude who worked at my family’s drywall company, so she would go home and tell him about all the shit-stirring I did, and he in turn would go to work and tell my mom. The phone calls I got from my mom was fantastic. “What are you doing over there?!” she would cry. “Please don’t embarrass me!” But that dude’s wife was actually cool as shit; she was on our side and thought the whole situation was hysterical. When the “Goody-Goodies” started to rally against us, she gave me a big pep talk outside on the sidewalk and told me that they were just angry old women who had no joy in their lives and to not let them get me down. I mean, these broads went full-throttle Mean Girls on us, which was stupid because we weren’t directing any of our antics against them. We were just a bunch of goofy idiots who were bored at studying the various remote controls that came with the satellite dishes. I was nineteen — of course I didn’t take this job seriously!

But you know, looking back on it — wow I was a fucking douche bag.

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This was my life for a whole month.

Somehow, we all managed to make it to the end of the month-long training course, but the real victory is that we all PASSED THE TEST. It was time for us to move to the newly-built call center and begin our live training, head-sets and all. But first, we decided amongst ourselves that we should celebrate during our last class.

Even Trainer Mike was on board with having a party, but he was definitely partying for much different reasons.

I volunteered to get a cake, which was no skin off my back because all I had to do was call Mommy and tell her to deal with it.

“What do you want it to say?” she asked.

“I don’t know….;this class sucks’,” I joked. Then we went on to talk about other things, probably me whining about all the things I wanted her to buy me.

The next day, and I remember this vividly because it was a bad day, I had to leave my apartment to go to the mall and pick up the cookie cake. But first, I realized that I forgot my car keys, and how I realized this was that I was unable to open my car door with the CORDLESS PHONE that I left the house with instead of my key chains. And then I couldn’t open the apartment door because my apartment key was on the keychain so I had to call my mom (on the cordless!) to come and open my door with the spare key she had. Even back then, I was a spaz about being late. I have ALWAYS been a spaz about being late.

(Hey 1998 Erin, never change.)

By the time I had my keychain, I was in pedal-to-the-metal mode and floored it to the mall, where I said, “Nah!” when the Original Cookie people asked if I wanted to see the cookie cake before they put it in the bag. Then, several feet away from the stupid Peoples Building, I merged into the right lane and didn’t see that there was a car in my blind spot so then I had to pull over and deal with THAT nonsense.

And so I was late. And in a really shitty mood. Which didn’t get much better when Bobbie lifted the lid of the cookie cake to reveal that it boasted a delicious declaration of This Class Sucks.

“Fucccccck,” I whispered. “I thought my mom knew I was joking!” And then I played back our conversation and realized I never told her what I actually wanted the stupid fucking cake to say.

I was nearly about to cry because everything kept happening! But then I was like, “Fuck it, I’m probably going to quit this job anyway, so who cares.” And it turns out, Mike definitely didn’t care! He came over, swiped off the “cl” with one swift motion of his finger, and then started cracking up.

I guess we kind of made up that day, over pizza and unfortunate cake sentiments. But honestly, I think he was just really fucking giddy about never having to deal with us hooligans again.

I mean, look at how innocent I was! This was also when I was going through a heavy goth phase, in that I spent most of my free time in a goth chatroom, listened to goth music, and had goth Internet friends. I never went full-fledged goth, but LOOK AT HOW PALE I WAS. So I would go to my training class every night and teach all of my new, normal friends things about Dracula’s Ball, Sisters of Mercy, and Darkchat. Their response was always, “Giiiiiiirl.….” paired with the raised eyebrow of skepticism.

I did end up quitting right after we “graduated.” It just wasn’t for me. I saw Bobbie once afterward, when we met at Nigro’s, a lounge down the street from Echostar. And the next summer, I hung out with Roniece and it will forever be known as The Night I Died On The Street In Front of a Strip Club In Braddock; but earlier that evening, Roniece’s grandma saved my friend Keri from possibly dying from a bee sting, so the day was clearly full of second chances. I kept in touch with Leticia the longest out of all of them, and dragged her to the Denis Theater twice to see “white people movies” which she bitched about on the way there and then gushed over the way home. (“Shakespeare In Love” and “American Beauty” lol.) I even visited her a few years later when she had a baby. But eventually, I lost touch with her too. I wish I could remember their last names so I could Facebook-stalk them.

Anyway, the moral to this story is that I am not even close to being a troublemaker at my current job, even though Todd thinks I’m a “bully.” So there.

(I think I actually am kind of a bully though.)

Dec 252019
 

Yoooo, we really phoned it in with this but let me tell you, it’s a miracle this dumb photo even happened—it was so frustrating.

There was a better one of Henry, but Drew’s head was turned and Penelope was blurry, so sorry Hank. You should try smiling more (wow, you dudes actually say that shit to us girls for real and don’t feel like an asshole about it?!).

Anyway, I hope anyone who is reading this is having a nice, comfortable day and it hopefully surrounding themselves with loving people. I’m here with the cats (fine and also Henry and Chooch) so what more do I need? (I mean, I can think of a lot more but I’m trying to BE HUMBLE.)

Dec 232019
 

Rejoice, Reveluvs!! Red Velvet is BACK. This is totally my style, what a perfect early Xmas gift!

And on that note, I have to drag my ass to work after a full weekend of social engagements and bossing Henry around. Sigh.

Dec 222019
 

“What?”

Just in case anyone forgets I have cats, here are some recent photos of them. They’re currently walking around the house like it’s their first day here because GOD FORBID some things got moved around yesterday and then people were here last night, so they still have a very concerned STRANGER DANGER mask upon their furry little faces.

I never had cats before who cared so much about toy mice. My old batch of cats (RIP ugh I miss them) never played with the toys I bought them instead opting for your basic twist ties and bottle caps. But these two, Penelope especially, play with every single mouse they’ve accumulated, all the holiday editions, all the ones with catnip, without catnip, the felt ones, the weird shimmery fabric ones—they fucking love them all.

Well, except for this basic pink one that Penelope absolutely hates for some reason and is always hiding it but then I find it and make a big production of returning it to her while shouting PENELOPE HERE IS PINK MOUSEY (except in cat speak, which is “dat is dat pink myousey.”) and she just glares at me.

We moved their cat tower into the dining room yesterday to open up the living room a bit because we hosted a small Christmas get-together and they are SO CONFUSED. I think it makes sense to keep it there because now they look out a window that they never really cared about before and Penelope was singing “A WHOLE NEW WORLD” while she watched someone in the driveway this morning. Also, she has a crush on Hot Naybor Chris so this would give her more opportunities to spy on him I would think.

Drew is not sold yet though

I threw a box on the floor for her so now she’s happy. But still disoriented. Change is scary, you guys. What’s a clean house? Omg! But never fear, Henry just replaced all the nice holiday shit on the dining room table with his greeting card-making tools so things are starting to go back to normal. Calm down, cats. Breathe.

Dec 202019
 

Guys, sometimes I don’t feel exactly inspired to workout. Maybe I’m tired from a mentally taxing day at work or maybe my body is just like “Yo please give us a break, lady” because I’ve overdone it with HIIT workouts that week. But I still want to do something!

Usually I’ll start searching for niche themed-workouts that tend to be ridiculous so I’m getting a great core workout just from laughing! Lately, even though I don’t particularly like Xmas music, I’ve been doing random holiday-themed workouts on YouTube and not only is it helping me keep my weight in check during this Christmas cookie flurry, it’s also kind of making me get in the mood for Christmas!

This will always be a special time for me when it comes to exercise, because it was 4 years ago that I found KpopX on Christmas Eve and, well, two trips to Korea and several smaller dress sizes later, I guess you could say it pretty much changed my life!

I’m going to be including full-length workouts as well as quick one-song aerobics routines because these ones are good when you’ve been working from home and need to just get up and stretch for 5 minutes! Evert little bit of movement you can wedge into your day really makes a difference, you guys. ‘Tis I, Erin Rachelle Kelly, the Ambassador of Ambulation. Oh, you just wait until I have my sash made.

*****

  1. PAUL EUGENE’S CRUNK CHRISTMAS FROM A CHAIR!

Maybe you’re just getting back into a workout routine after an injury or have a bad back (like Henry), then might I suggest this titillating chair workout from your boy, my boy, our boy: PAUL EUGENE?!

This one is also good if you don’t like Christmas music, but want to look at someone doing chair jacks in front of a Christmas themed green screen?

2. Vietnamese Christmas Dance Party!

I’m doing this one as soon as I finish this blog post! Whenever it says “all level” I’m like, “OK I might not get hurt.”

3. Give Me Five Thailand: Red & Green Edition

I LOVE THIS GUY SO MUCH. He primarily does cardio dance routines to kpop jams, but when this one came out a few days ago, I was like, “Well, I guess I like Mariah Carey now. Let’s get it.”

4. Christmas Walkin’!

So, everything about this channel seems like something that I should be completely adverse to. But for some reason, I REALLY LIKE THIS LADY. Enough that I’ll even tolerate Christmas tunes for her. And maybe I even smile a little. I dunno, I just think she seems like a nice lady, OK?! And sometimes I need a break from walking in place to murder shows or suffering through Leslie Sansone’s Janice-from-Friends- esque bray.

5. Blessercise

Because Jesus is the Reason for the Season!

I sent this to my team at work and they were like, “WHAT. WHY. HOW DO YOU FIND THESE THINGS.” But I think at least two of them went home and tried it.

*****

Well, I hope you tried at least one of these. Let me know if you did, and also, feel free to share your favorite YouTube workouts! I’m always looking for new shit. MERRY CARDIOMAS!