Apr 212019

A Chooch For Every Year: 2006-2019

My LITTLE BABY (lol) is going to be THIRTEEN on Thursday, and even though we’re going to be celebrating his big day of birth at King’s Island next weekend, I still wanted to do something small & casual so that our close friends and family could be there too. He’s teetering on that crazy-emotional Not a Kid Anymore But What Am I precipice where he irrationally thinks that we don’t care about him so…fun times!

I thought a small surprise dinner the weekend before his birthday would be perfect, and I made real life invitations to send out too because, you know, how do you invite people to a party when you’re not on Facebook anymore?

And even such a small event still gave me pee-jigs and puke-feels all day leading up to the surprise.

Chooch has been craving Mexican food like a pregnant lady binge-watching telenovelas (he actually is binge’ing* Jane the Virgin and yes I know they’re not Mexican but it’s kind of funny because it basically is a telenovela and in fact, he’s sitting next to me as I type this, trying to give me recaps of the last episode he watched and I truly, sincerely don’t care), so it seemed obvious that we should make Old Mexico the location of the festivities.

*(That word is so weird—like, how do you even spell it. It doesn’t look right no matter which way I’ve seen it and I wish it wasn’t a thing.)

And then the night before, Chooch told us he was going on a hike the next day with the Teen Center and I panicked because WE HAD TO BE AT THE RESTAURANT BY 4:15 AND HAD ACTUAL RESERVATIONS AND THIS LITTLE SHIT WAS GOING TO RUIN HIS OWN PARTY! It ended up being fine, and they got back way earlier than expected, plus he was with his friend Liam so I suggested that he ask Liam to come to dinner (he knew we were going to dinner, but not that a bunch of guests were going to be waiting for him) and Henry was like “GREAT, ERIN” because Henry hates socializing with Chooch’s friends but I like Liam! He was allowed to go so that was cool.

Anyway, everyone managed to get there on time (except for Wendy but I knew ahead of time that she would be late so I wasn’t mad!) and he was so shocked! I was also shocked that everyone who RSVPd really came! MY MOM AND DAD WERE BOTH THERE YOU GUYS. This has never happened. I almost cried, and my dad paid for my mom!! (They divorced like 20 years ago or something but have grown amicable over the years so it wasn’t really that huge of a deal, but now Chooch is like, “MAYBE THEY’LL BE LIKE XIOMARA AND ROGELIO!!” which is a stupid Jane the Virgin reference, so if Chooch tries to do some Grandparent Trap action, that’s not my fault!!)

Tommy and Jessy brought this big birthday balloon with them which was a GOOD CALL because I brought nothing. No party artifacts. No birthday ephemera. No Eyes Wide Shut masks.

After we got to the table, I asked Chooch if he was surprised and he said, “I mean, the hostess asked us if we were with the table of 15, so…”


I think he was still surprised though. In my head, he was surprised.

This was his first time seeing Tommy after THE PRANK. Tommy signed the card “and Charlie” which was the name he was using to prank Chooch with last week, haha.

Wendy made me take this picture of her and then I threatened to put it on our department’s wiki page and she was like, “Oh god, please don’t” and then I told my parents, “This is my friend Wendy, we work together and she’s like my boss, I guess.”

I was so happy that my parents and brother Ryan were there! My other brother had to work, and another person who had to work WAS BLAKE. He tried so hard to get someone to switch with him but it was a no-go and he was pretty bummed out, but Haley, Calvin and Lily were there to represent the Robbins side of the family!

I was so happy that everyone seemed to mesh well with each other, because you never know with dinners like this – they could be awkward!

Also, Henry never looks at us the way he looks at Calvin!?


I think it helped that half of us were drinking margaritas. Patty asked me to go check the parking lot toward the end of the dinner to see if her ride was there, and I have to admit that I have no recollection of how I got from the dinner table to the front door of the restaurant, so…

Also, I rarely drink anymore so it really doesn’t take much.

Liam got fish which was an interesting choice I thought for a kid at a Mexican restaurant. I got the vegetable plate with rice and I thought I would be food-shamed over it because again, who goes to a Mexican restaurant for undressed vegetables but I knew that anything else would make me sick for the rest of the night, so I went for it. When it was served to me though, everyone was like, “Whoa, that smells so good! What did you get?” and it was literally just Mexican rice and a boatload of fajita-esque vegetables and it was SO GOOD. I scarfed down that whole plate, felt fulfilled, and didn’t want to puke later that night!

Thank you, Old Mexico!

OMG Wendy talking to my dad, lololol.

Patty and Jessy just met that night but hit it off!

This might be favorite picture of the night: Chooch and his soon-to-be sister-in-law Haley, and believe me, they are definitely sibling-ish!

Chooch and his pal, Patty! She volunteers at the nursing home she used to be a resident at, and she said some of the residents remembered Chooch from when we would visit and he would play piano for them, so they asked her to relay their birthday wishes for him and I thought that was so sweet. Look, I’m really grateful that Patty was able to leave there and go back to her own house, but I do miss when we used to visit her there. Some of those people were major characters!

Chooch with Jessy and Tommy! Tom is his frenemy for real, but they’re like family to us even though we don’t see them often anymore. I was so freaking happy that they could make it, because they live pretty far away.

Wendy and Summer with my family!

Chooch and Janna—man, she has been there from the beginning and is basically family to him. I actually confirmed the date of his dinner with her first before I even made invitations because it was imperative that she be there, duh.

Poor Liam had no fucking idea what he signed up for. He thought he was just tagging along to a quiet family dinner with his friend, lol.

And then Chooch ordered a sopapilla, not knowing that it was going to turn into A THING because he didn’t grow up with the horror of being birthday-shamed by the staff at ChiChi’s like the rest of us did. (RIP, ChiChi’s, and also the people who died because of your poisoned green onions.)

(OMG that fucking corn sidedish they had. WHY, CHICHI’S, WHYYYYYY???? COME BAAAAAACK!!)

One of the waiters gave Chooch a handful of whipped cream to the face and I died. If anyone deserves whipped cream to the face, it’s certainly my kid.

This happened after Jessy commented that Chooch looked the same as he did when he was younger except without the constant ring of ice cream and dirt around his lips and he was like HOLD MY LEMONADE.

This kid will forever make a mess at dinner,

What a great turnout! I think he really felt loved and at the end of the day, this was all I wanted from that dinner.

On the way home, I told him that Chronica couldn’t make it because Chris was flying home from Calgary that day and her flight was delayed. (She ended up not getting home until after 10PM, sadly.)

“Chris and her stupid countries!” Chooch cried.

And when I told him that Kara had tickets to the Beer Barge, he scoffed, “Really? Kara chose BEER over ME?”

Anyway, I’m glad that we pulled this off without any drama and minimal stress so that now I can selfishly focus on King’s Island which you have to know is really more for me than anyone else, lol. LOOK, HE WOULDN’T HAVE A BIRTHDAY IF NOT FOR ME, SO.

Apr 182019

One of my favorite places to take visiting friends is the Mattress Factory. It’s like the hidden gem of Pittsburgh–everyone wants to go  to the Warhol but I would recommend the Mattress Factory over that one any day because it’s such an immersive experience and I always feel a tiny bit like Alice in Wonderland when I visit.

I also walk away with a myriad of interior design concepts, much to Henry’s chagrin.

(I think if I ever wrote an auto-biography, it would be titled And It Was Much to Henry’s Chagrin, actually.)

Anyway! I was stoked when Michelle opted to explore the MF over the Warhol, so I met her and Kira there during a Sunday downpour. I had hoped that the rain and the Penguins playoff game would keep people at home and out of my sacred factory of no-mattresses, but alas, it ended up being the most crowded I’ve even seen it.

Which still wasn’t that crowded, but I’ve been spoiled over the years and have grown accustomed to having this place nearly all to myself!

The top floor is currently occupied by an eye-candy expo produced by a Brazilian duo called OSGEMEOS  I was gushing about how it was living room goals for me and Michelle was like, “Yu’re pretty much halfway there, aren’t you?” SIGH, I GUESS but Henry still hasn’t helped me with the humongous light-up Seoul wall-hanging I dreamt up. And my dining room and kitchen are crying for color.

Maybe OSGEMEOS can take up residency in my house and help out a little. (A lot.)

I was really inspired back then by an artist I met at the Three Rivers Arts Festival – Robert Villamagna. That man really opened my eyes to the world of making art from repurposed materials and I still have the postcard he signed for me from 1996!

When I was dating Psycho Mike, back in 1997, he moved out of his parents house in the beginning of that summer and was living in some glorified drug den (let’s be real, he lived with an ex-con and some other questionable character above a Pittsburgh Paints store in Little Washington). I made him this awesome (in my eyes) mixed media piece for his room so he would have some sort of character, flavor if you will. Plus, he lived an hour away from me at that point and I didn’t drive, so we didn’t get to see each other that much. Anyway, I used some leftover wallpaper from my bedroom as the background, and that wallpaper was a throwback to that foil-craze of the 60s and 70s. It was awesome, silver foil with purple and white splatter-overlay. I can’t remember offhand all the things that went into this piece, but it was like a nostalgia collage that featured things that were pertinent to our relationship, and I had strands of beaded curtains hanging from it (the chunky plastic ones that Spencer’s used to sell in the 90s) and I had it rigged with several large Christmas candle bulbs, so it lit up too.

That motherfucker appreciated it as much as Lori Laughlin’s brat-daughter appreciated her bullshit college admission. I wish I had taken it back but I’m sure somewhere along the way it ended up in some syringe-filled dumpster in Washington.

Anyway, my point is, I have been a fan of outrageous mixed media works since my impressionable teenage years and still cherish the one lone Villamagna piece I have on my wall that I bought 15 years ago when I was broke and definitely probably should have been using that money to pay rent or like, buy food maybe. So yeah, these OSGEMEOS bros really breathed some color into that rainy day.

I feel like Henry would have really liked this wall for some reason? (HAIRSTYLE INSPO?)

There’s a zoetrope in one room which only runs at certain times, and Michelle had to explain to me what a zoetrope is because I’m an art poser. We had about 45 minutes before the soonest zoetrope showing so we decided we’d explore the rest of the exhibits and go back up closer to 2. It was about 1:55 when we returned and that room was already starting to fill up with people and of course the tallest people were standing in  the front, flaunting their giraffe-like physiques while the rest of us were trying to peer through the crooks of their arms.

One of the MF docents, before gearing up the zoetrope, did ask all of the tall people to move off to the side so that was kind of them but then some asshole mom who was “looking for her son” (yeah right) came out of nowhere and planted her feet right in front of me. What an asshole.

Through a series of calculated contortions, I was able to see enough of the zoetrope and then I retreated to the back of the room because it was starting to feel like being near the barricade at a metal show and I couldn’t breathe. This is not how I want to experience art, thanks!

It was still cool though and Kira got a good front-row spot so that was all that mattered to me because I am a selfless human being (at times).

And now, here are some more fotos of our jaunt through the Mattress Factory.

The Yayoi Kusama exhibit is a permanent installation and I probably have 57 photos from this room over the years but it just never gets old posing with the polka-dotted mannequins.

Taemin came with me this time!

After perusing the four floors in the main building, Kira cried art-uncle, so we said our goodbyes and made a million promises to hang out again soon (I want to take them to Kennywood and Michelle tipped me off about a new art museum opening in Columbus, so I think it’s safe to say that we’ll see each other again before summer ends!), and then I walked down the street to see the two annexes. One of them still had the same exhibit as the last  time I visited and while it’s really cool, I hate that building because the hallways are extremely narrow and it actually reminds me a little bit of trying to navigate through the old Chuck E. Cheese “Cheese Factory” of yore, props to you if you remember this hell-house from the 80s! The only way out of this building is the same way you entered, so once you get to the third floor, you have to turn around and squeeze past everyone behind you and it’s so incredibly awkward and uncomfortable and the last time I was there, I panicked because I bumped into part of the exhibit and thought I broke it BUT PROBABLY NO ONE WOULD HAVE EVEN NOTICED.

The second annex was sad times because the main room was closed in preparation for the next display, so there was way less to see, considering most of the stuff in that building is a permanent collection. However, I was only there for the “Screen” exhibit anyway, so what did I care.

I kept seeing people posting pictures of it on Instagram but I couldn’t see past MY FAVORITE COLOR COMBO OF PINK AND GREEN (maybe second only to pink and gold) to realize what was actually going on here until I was there myself.

Fun fact about me: when I was about 3 or 4, we moved into my dad’s house in Castle Shannon (this was back before my mom married him and he officially adopted me). I’m sure it had something to do with the trauma of being uprooted, but I fucking SWEAR TO GOD I used to see this tiny green man running across my bedroom floor. Like three times I saw him! It could have also been because my aunt Susie used to try to scare me when we’d be in the car by pointing out the window and saying, “DID YOU SEE THAT LITTLE GREEN MAN OUT THERE?!” and then I’d be all, “PAPPAP MAKE HER STOP BEING MEAN TO ME!” Rinse, repeat. Maybe I just had little green men on the brain and psychically manifested them into my vision, OR MAYBE THEY WERE REAL. In any case, these green men were a definite blast from the past, albeit a bit taller and, um, nude-r.

I would definitely remember if I saw a green man weener back then. It probably would have changed the trajectory of my life, even!


It took me a hot minute to realize what was happening here but once I figured it out with my Big Bad Brain, I was obsessed with playing around with it!

Welp, that concludes another trip to the Mattress Factory. I wonder how many times a day someone asks the docents, “but when are we going to see the mattresses?” a la Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.

Apr 162019

You know, I had a feeling that April was going to be the month where the metaphorical ice melted off my social life. Goddammit, I love it when I’m right. My friend Michelle was in town to see Les Ballets Trockadero with one of her daughters and had an extra ticket so she invited me to join them! I was really excited because it seemed like something that would appeal to me, plus I haven’t seen Michelle since our Great Michigan Road Trip of 2014 where we missed Chronica’s engagement party and now “Michigan” is basically the name of the stripper I cheated on them with!

I’ve known Michelle for a HELLA long time thanks to the friendship-creating powerhouse known as LiveJournal, but we only met that one time “in real life.” She lives a lot closer now, in Ohio, so hanging out will be a lot easier!

When I was telling Blake about my ballet plans at breakfast that morning, he was shocked. “You still have friends from LiveJournal?!”

UM, YEAH, BLAKE. Only about 75% of them turned on me or ended up having personality disorders*, but I’ve still got the rest!

*(I could write a book just on all of those failed e-friendships, LORD JESUS.)

I met Michelle and her daughter Kira in front of their hotel Saturday evening and it was so great to see them! They were both dressed super cool for the ballet – Michelle had on these slick silver shoes that made me want to listen to some 80’s new wave in a big way. Ugh, they were so cool! We walked across that one bridge by PNC Park and I got to point out the only thing I know — the building I work in. I’m such a good tour guide!

(Speaking of tour guiding- the Army Navy store that sold the machete to the guy who went on a Voorhees-esque rampage at the Wood Street T station has closed! That was one the landmarks on my unofficial walking tour of Pittsburgh!)

Here I am keeping my streak alive of looking like shit in a group selfie, and also Kira was so lucky that I didn’t try to steal that giant Kit Kat from her. I love a Kit Kat every now and then, where “then” equals “constantly.”

I realized when we arrived at the Byham that I hadn’t been there since 2003 when Henry and I went to see Sigur Ros, where my passionate review could be summarized by “it was a religious experience and I was re-Baptized by my own face fountain of tears,” whereas Henry’s review was “Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.”

So, wow, Byham – it’s been a while!

(Maybe this is sign that I need more culture in my life, though?)

Guys, I didn’t know anything about this thing until Michelle told me that’s why she was coming to town and I was like, “HMM WHAT IS THIS TROCKADERO” and then slowly slammed-spelled it out with one finger on the keyboard. I figured it must be Really Something because it was sold out, so I didn’t hesitate to take Michelle up on her offer when she found herself with an extra ticket. Not only did I get to hang out with Michelle and Kira, but I got to see a fabulously entertaining poke at tradition ballet. Admittedly, my only knowledge of ballet comes from my terrible one-year stint at it when I took classes at St. Elizabeth with Amy L. in 1st grade and pretty much cried before every class, and “Suspiria” (the original Argento version, not the remake, obvi).

Oh, and I did see “Black Swan” too – does that count?

Anyway — I loved this! I didn’t realize that these guys are actually classically trained, not just some random Joes off the street. They were fucking fantastic and I felt that they parodied the dances just the right amount and pulled back each time just before it became too heavy-handed or Loony Toons-esque.

Afterward, we got to walk back over the bridge and sometimes I forget just how cool Pittsburgh is at night with all the bridges that I am generally afraid of but was distracted this time since I had company. Michelle commented on how Pittsburgh has so many bridges and I waned to wow her with Real Facts, but I couldn’t remember off-hand that cool bridge trivia I learned five years ago on the Just Ducky tour I went on with some co-workers. Something about how we have more bridges than Venice? Like over 400? I can’t remember. Maybe Google that before you quote me. And DEFINITELY don’t ever use me as your Phone a Friend if you ever get asked a Pittsburgh question, Jesus Christ. I’m the un-Yinzeriest person living here, I think.

I made Henry watch some of their YouTube videos when I got home that night and when I saw an interview with this dancer, he became my immediate favorite because I got major Ten from WayV/NCT vibes! I would totally go see this again if the opportunity ever arose. Big ups to Michelle for culturizing me in my own town!


SIDEBAR: Speaking of Ten, here’s this recent choreo he made with Winwin that I am obsessed with and I saw that one of the kpop pinmakers designed a mock-up for this and if she gets it made into an actual pin, I am 100% there for that. I could watch Ten dance all day long. He might be my second favorite dancer, right behind Taemin.

Mar 272019

Good thing that hydrogen peroxide incident from earlier last week didn’t actually disintegrate my eyeballs because I had shit to watch this past weekend!

First up was “Us,” which was playing at our local theater that’s a five-minute walk from the house and if that didn’t wasn’t there, I would likely never see movies in the theater because it’s a struggle for me to get motivated just to sit somewhere for 2 hours! I like watching movies at home because I can pause that shit and move around.

Anyway, I allowed Janna and Chooch to accompany me and on the way there, it occurred to me that the last time I saw a movie in the theater was “Get Out,”….two years ago almost to the day. With the same people! So, I guess I only leave the house for Jordan Peele movies now. Super niche.

Inside the Hollywood, which is now owned by different people insistent on making this a mainstream House of Action Flicks, the ticket lady reminded me that it was an R-rated movie.

“I know, it’s fine,” I said, handing her my credit card.

“OK, I just wanted to make sure you knew that this was a horror movie. There was someone who brought a bunch of  kids to an earlier showing and they left after 10 minutes,” she continued her attempt hard sell me into a hard pass, and I half-expected her to hand me a waiver to sign at this point. This was almost as awkward as the time I was carded for Scream at the Denis Theater in the 90s. Like, look, do you want your money or not? I can’t remember ever being there to a packed house so TAKE MY MONEY WHILE I’M STILL BEING NICE ABOUT IT.

I explained that he was basically born and raised on horror and that seemed to appease her but I was getting ready for her to administer a DNA test to verify I was his mom, shit.

We claimed our favorite spot in the balcony and then the Hollywood subjected us to three rounds of the same four commercials, one of which was for Taco Bell nacho fries. Is this the shit I’ve been missing since I stopped watching TV? Wow.

Then they only showed two actual trailers before the movie finally started. I won’t get into the nitty-gritty of it but this movie was EXCELLENT. At first, I won’t lie, I wasn’t sure that I was going to like it only because it looked like it was going to go in one direction which displeased me but then it quickly took a turn and I was back on board to the point where my final verdict was: “BETTER THAN GET OUT.”

And you have to know that I thought Get Out was a fucking excellent film, even beyond the genre of horror. Jordan Peele’s ability to weave in ultra-relevant social commentary within a trope-less horror script is so impressive.

Non-spoiler tidbits:

  • There’s a pretty vague/obscure Lost Boys reference in the very beginning that I may have actually missed if my friend Nate hadn’t alerted me about this beforehand. I was watching some “things you missed” YouTube video after watching “Us” and when the narrator mentioned this part, she prefaced it with “Fans of the 1980s vampire movie Lost Boys, but really, how many fans does that movie really have” or something along those lines and I was PISSED.
  • The Luniz “I Got 5 On It” makes an audio appearance twice in the movie and it legit made me so happy and nostalgic because that was my JAM back in the day and I still have my (super-oversized) Luniz shirt shoved in the back of a dresser drawer. It features a cartoon condom on the front so there’s not many places I can wear it, really. Next time I have to go to the school office, maybe?
    • Coincidentally, Chooch and I have been watching Umbrella Academy, and Mary J. Blige is in that. I actually saw her, along with the Luniz, at this huge concert at Civic Arena in 1995…I think it was called The Phattest Hip Hop Show or something. I went with this guy Ken who I was friends with but turned out to be so toxic, and also his favorite song back then was Nikki French’s cover of “Total Eclipse of the Heart” so….Anyway, we had seats right on the floor and Puff Daddy (that wash is name then!!!!) threw cash monies into the crowd and I was so close to snatching a bill out of the air. So I was telling Chooch these things the other night and when I mentioned Biggie Smalls, he cut me off and cried, “YOU saw Notorious B.I.G.?!” He hates learning more facts about my golden childhood/teen years and I LOVE TELLING HIM ABOUT IT.

When the credits started to roll, Chooch slowly applauded and then stopped and looked around. “What? Doesn’t anyone clap at the end of a movie anymore?” He sounded like such an old man!

Janna and I had an impromptu photoshoot in the ladies room while waiting for Chooch to use the mens room. He made us go downstairs to the restrooms with him because he was scared, lololol.

The next day, Henry, Chooch, and I went to see Kara’s son Harland in his elementary school’s production of Willy Wonka Jr. We were more than happy to support not only our friend’s kid but also a city school. See? Sometimes I care about those kid things.

Here’s Henry meeting his culture quota for the year.

Before the show started, the people in front of us came back with WILLY WONKA CANDY BARS and Chooch and I started whining about how we wanted one too so Henry reluctantly slinked off for the concession stage. Then he came back and said HERE, YOU CRYBABIES. I DON’T KNOW WHAT THE BIG DEAL, THEY’RE LITERALLY JUST HERSHEY BARS WITH A FAKE WILLY WONKA WRAPPER.

Yeah, but!

I guess we were expecting some chintzy elementary school rendition of Willy Wonka, rife with stuttering, missed lines, and questionable costumes fashioned from pipe cleaners and garbage bags, but apparently this school is like Fame Junior, so it was half-past chintzy, more toward glitzy. I mean, the girl who played Willy Wonka started the show by entering through the back of the auditorium, spot-lit and hitting us with her beautiful falsetto, and then people from the balcony showered her with handfuls of confetti.

The kid who played Charlie should have a contract with the Disney Channel and there two little girl Oompa Loompas in particular who stole the whole fucking show for me. I was goddamn obsessed with them and their urban sass. Oh, and Mrs. Gloop reminded me of when I was Zsa Zsa Gabor for a class project in 5th grade and I couldn’t stop cracking up at her adorable accent!

And then Harland, also an Oompa Loompa, casually wheeled across the stage on his unicycle, which was hilarious!

So this Urban Impact place across from the school assisted with the production, including the set design, and it was like…the real deal, man. Lightyears beyond crepe paper and cardboard, you know? There were giant golden tickets flanking the perimeter of the stage and each one would light up with the kid’s name who had just found a golden ticket. It was nutz0rz.

(Cats and Pizza applied to protect the innocent.)

Chooch’s school doesn’t have anything like this at all, but there is a CVS across the street so perhaps in the event they ever decided to put on a musical, they could paper mache their sets with the mile-long receipts we get with every CVS purchase.

Sigh. School shame. All we get at Chooch’s school are bi-annual no-frills performances by the “band” and the chorus.

I really, really liked that prior to the show starting, the Principal came out to do some rule-rapping and one of those rules was to implore everyone to not take pictures or videos during the show, that  there would be photo-ops afterward and DVDs are even going to be available. So it was really nice, and also extremely unusual in the year 2019, to be able to sit back and just enjoy a damn show without having to watch it through the screen of the person’s phone in front of me, so kudos to all those parents who actually listened!

This was a real treat and I’m glad that Kara told me about it. It was awesome getting to support Harland, and Chooch was so stoked to cheer him on, too. Aaaaand, Henry didn’t even fall asleep!

What a great weekend. 뿅!

Mar 162019

Every winter, I get on this kick where I am determined to do more culture-y (oh wait, there’s a real word for that – cultural) things to get me out of the house, but it almost never pans out. Usually there’s one trip to the Mattress Factory and then my internal cultural quota quietly considers itself met, I guess. This year, I waited until winter was almost over before texting Janna about how we should start going to, you know, like, plays or something. But like, small ones that aren’t playing anywhere downtown or whatever. There was this one time in 2009 when I went to see some small, bare-bones local production of Alice in Wonderland at some theater in Carnegie with some whack broad who got cut from the friends list shortly after much to the angelic rejoicing on high from other friends, and I remembered that it was really cool, but maybe the seats were uncomfortable?

(Oh shit, I guess I did go see Hamilton in January so yay, one cultural thing!)

Anyway, Janna was like, “Yes let’s do this” and then sent me a link asking if it was the theater in Carnegie I was talking about. The one she sent me was actually a DIFFERENT one called Carnegie Stage, but the first thing I saw when I clicked on the link was the poster for their upcoming Off the Wall production called MUMBURGER, billed as “a surreal new play about grief, parenting, and alternative meat.”

I quickly texted back, “LET’S GO SEE THIS” and Janna was like “OK” because she never says no to me. I found two good seats up front for Friday March 15th and told her “HURRY AND BUY YOUR TICKET BEFORE IT SELLS OUT” while Henry was sitting next to me on the couch, mumbling about he doubted it was going to sell out.

YOU NEVER KNOW! The theater looked super small with only like 50 seats! I was in panic-mode, OK?! And I could tell that Janna hadn’t read my latest KakaoTalk messages so I just kept texting HELLO and then finally she was like OK GOT IT and then I was like, ok good now I will buy mine, but the site kept crashing on me and then I finally got to the payment page and I didn’t have my wallet near me and Henry started lecturing me about how YOU KNEW YOU WERE GOING TO NEED YOUR WALLET WHY DID YOU WAIT UNTIL NOW and I was like STFU AND GO GET YOURS and it was just a real scene OK maybe it can be the next Off the Wall Production.

Meanwhile, Chooch found out that Janna and I were going to be doing something without him, god forbid, and he was royally pissed, especially after he started reading about Mumburger.

“That looks actually really cool, thanks for inviting me,” he moodily texted me later that night from his room. LOL.

After a nice dinner at the nearby Bakn (I was pleasantly surprised at the veg-options that a place billed as a bacon haven actually had and now I am sorry that I purposely avoided it all these years, A+ veggie sandwich, will return, but will pass on the tasteless coleslaw next time and just get fries because Janna let me have some of hers and they were THE KINDS I LIKE, THE GOOD KINDS), we made it to the Carnegie Stage and everyone there was so friendly! And the ticket lady who showed us our seats (which made me laugh because the room only had two rows of seats) reminded me of BARB so I was really loving this joint and considered becoming a board member at one point and I don’t even know what that involves but who cares.

Our seats were right there, practically on the floor! Janna almost got hit by a frozen veggie burger when one of the characters hurled it across the room! I was a little nervous though because I wasn’t sure if there would be any audience interaction, which is like my biggest fear and also why I almost never go to comedy shows and by almost never I mean that I have only been to two ever in my whole life, and neither were by choice.

All I knew about this play is that it was about a vegan mom who gets killed by a truck and sends herself to her daughter and husband in the form of burger patties – this isn’t a spoiler.

Lauren actually emailed our group earlier in the week to see if anyone could take her Friday late shift, and after Glenn replied that he would do it, I responded with, “Good, now I don’t have to sell my ticket to a play about a vegan mom who dies and sends herself to her grieving family as hamburgers.”

Glenn asked, “Is this a Disney production?” and Todd was like, “Was your email missing some words, or…?” but then I sent them the link and they were like, “Why does this not surprise us that you have tickets for this.”

Anyway, the even cooler thing about this play is that it was written by a Pittsburgh(ish) native, Sarah Kosar. She moved to London in 2009 to pursue playwriting and eventually received an Exceptional Promise in Playwriting visa and I think I know what that means and it sounds pretty good! I felt pretty good about supporting someone from here — too bad we didn’t get tickets for the premiere weekend though – we could have met her! But alas, she’s back in London now.

Briefly, I’ll tell you that this play was 75 minutes of intense emotions, brilliant wordplay, manic movement between the sole two characters, and unexpected moments of humor. It’s set over the span of a week in the shared home of the daughter (in her 20s) and husband of the recently deceased vegan, and illustrates the bi-polar-esque grief cycle they experience individually, and together, and it was HASHTAG RELATABLE (minus the “digestible memorial” aspect). There is a scene that shows both of them, simultaneously, distracting themselves from the inevitable funeral arrangements–the dad is watching scenes from Father of the Bride to try and teach himself how to verbalize affection for his daughter, and the daughter replays a video of a rollercoaster disaster in China 25 times–and it is so raw and real, and you’re fighting back tears, but then they come together in the next scene and their dysfunctional banter has you laughing out loud.

It was GENIUS. I’m obsessed with Sarah Kosar now.

Afterward, I was waiting for Janna to come back from the bathroom and opened my purse to get my car keys out. With it came a lone piece of confetti from Patty’s birthday dinner last week. THAT FUCKING CONFETTI MADE IT ALL THE WAY TO CARNEGIE.

Anyway, that was fun and now we want to go and see more local plays. Maybe we’ll just start hitting up all the high schools. Or wait for Chooch’s first play – he just signed up for theater club at the Teen Center, so this should be excellent.

Mar 122019

This past weekend was a good one because as I noted in my last cop-out of a blog post, it was finally starting to feel a little bit like spring! (Granted, it’s back to the 30s at the time of this “writing”…) We made sure to take lots of neighborhood strolls, and this is one of the things I love about living in Brookline (as opposed to the millions of things that I hate) – so many things are easily accessible to us.

FOR EXAMPLE: We stopped at the post office where our favorite* mail guy Michael scanned in our card orders; we went to Party Cake to grab some cookies and a monster glob of icing for Calvin to wipe all over his parents’ new furniture  (you’re welcome, Blake and Haley!),; we grabbed some pita at Pitaland which is basically just Henry’s excuse to go and visit the one guy who works there because he’s always like “MY FRIEND!” when he sees Henry and sometimes even someone as emotionless and bearded as Henry needs to know that someone is happy to see him, I guess; and then I bought tampons at CVS, all while rolling our eyes at Candy Cane, the cane-using broad who usurps the entire girth of the sidewalk and I am hard-pressed to believe that she needs the cane at all! That bitch fucking CRUISES, all while refusing to move over for anyone — I purposely stepped into the street once just so she could see the PERILS she puts other people in!

*(Speaking of postal workers, I need to eat crow or whatever it is people say instead of I FUCKED UP AND RETRACT MY PRIOR STATEMENTS because I have been known to lambaste the weekday postal worker on here from time to time but over the last several months, I have truly softened to her and we have really great chats now about how she is misunderstood as a postal worker, and now my heart breaks for her and all of the bad reviews she gets on the Brookline community forum**.)

**(I have never been to the Brookline community forum but I do remember one time a bunch of years ago someone posted my blog on the Brookline Facebook page and I thought we were going to have to move and change our names, buy some wigs, but thankfully everything was fine and people chuckled or whatever.)

Meanwhile, that stupid photography bordello Babe Cave suffered some vandalism and now I’m panicking a little because I said shitty things about it on Twitter before it opened and what if I’m a suspect now?! I mean, it was probably the local Feminist Fotog group rising up and taking action, so hopefully it won’t take long for me to clear my name.


Later on Saturday afternoon, we went to Rock Bottom for our friend Patty’s 40th birthday dinner! I actually haven’t seen her in about a year because I’m a lazy person but it was great seeing how far she’s come with her physical therapy!

I told Chooch to take a picture of the cake. He really took his job seriously. Look at that artistically-situated shadow, the creatively-cut off cake corner. Chooch really has a future in photography. He should get an internship at BABE CAVE.

I know Chooch, that’s how I feel when adults are talking, too.

Gayle and her husband Jeffrey were also there and I was happy to sit at a table with people we know because almost every time we go to a party, we are our own island. This meant I had a new audience for my incessant calls of “I’m so hungrrrrryyy.” The waitresses were so worried about getting everyone’s drink orders, completely ignoring the fact that I was literally chewing on my hair and swaying in my seat from malnourishment. (<—which WordPress is telling me isn’t a word. It tells me that a lot.)

Put my preschool-mentality son in a room with balloons and watch the obsession mount. He fucked around with those balloons nearly the whole time, attempting to clandestinely saw one of the strings off with a knife, before finally just flat out asking Patty if he could take one….

And then Henry tied Chooch’s arm to the chair with it when he wasn’t paying attention.

…and then before we left, Chooch accidentally let go of the string and the balloon drifted off toward the ceiling. Instead of just getting another balloon, he stood on a chair and then jumped for it, and thankfully he waited until my back was turned because I probably would have gotten Jello-legs and  then wailed, “OMG BE CAREFUL” with my hand on my chest. I’m “that” kind of mom.

In addition to balloon-obsessions, all of the tables were generously sprinkled with confetti, and APPARENTLY Chooch had filled my purse with handfuls of the shit, unbeknownst to me but THANKS JEFFREY for NARCing on him. So then I transferred all of it to Gayle’s purse while she was in the bathroom, plus a piece of dried plant from the centerpiece, for good measure.

But the best was when Chooch shoved a fistful of confetti down Dumb Henry’s shirt.

This picture looks like it was  taken with my old Blackberry Curve that had the perpetually smeared lens.

We got home later that evening and immediately…..

He only cried for like a minute at least, lol.

The rest of the weekend was chill AF, as illustrated by Penelope:

Henry was in Grandpa Nanny mode that night so Chooch and I had to make our own dinners which was weird, but then we started watching Umbrella Academy so that was cool (never forget that time Gerard Way gave Chooch a Twitter shout out for his 8th birthday!).

And that was 1000-some words about a weekend.

Jan 142019

Saturday night, Wendy and I (fine, and Henry too) went to a going-away party for our friend and former co-worker Amber aka AG1, the Original Amber of the Law Firm. Aside from the horrible service at Bubba’s Gourmet Burgers (owned by one of the long-time local radio personalities here and I have HALF A MIND -shut up – to call his dumb radio show and tell him that his restaurant sucks; he was actually there that night too and I was not even the slightest bit excited to see him), it was really nice to see Amber for what might be the last time in a while since she is moving to ALABAMA.


I started to tear up immediately when I saw Amber because I am a weak human being even though I’m all, “ROAR ROAR ROAR I HATE PEOPLE.” It’s called a defense mechanism, OK!? But then Amber pointed out that she and her husband are only going to be 4 hours away from DOLLYWOOD so now the plan is to MEET THEM IN PIGEON FORGE AND HAVE ALL OF THE FUN. I told her husband this when we were leaving.

“We’re going to Dollywood!” I cried, and then I realized he thought I meant just me and Henry so then I explained that WE ARE ALL GOING TO DOLLYWOOD and he was like, “Wow…”

He was excited, I think.

Anyway, I thought it was funny that Amber referenced the two memories I wrote about in my card to her before she even opened the card, so I guess they really were solid memories! Usually I am the only one who latches on to a moment and then the other party is like, “I sort of remember that?” and it is crushing. CRUSHING. One of those memories was the time we had a Chinese Auction in the department in 2015 and you know what, I like this memory so much that I am going to reshare it here and not just because I’m looking for a cop-out because designing and marketing new Valentine cards has me mentally drained except that’s 90% why.

So here you go, a blast from the blogging past, from my archives to your eyeballs.



See also: Waffle Whining


In order to raise some extra money for the food drive that the Law Firm is currently embroiled in, our department had a Chinese Auction yesterday. I don’t normally pay attention to these things because most of the items donated always seem to be things I wouldn’t ever use, like spatulas and laundry baskets. (These are standard Chinese Auction things, right? I honestly never look!)

I can tell you for sure that I didn’t bother to participate the last time this happened because I was still in my old position here and pouting literally every day. I remember hearing sounds of mirth and camaraderie coming from my work friends on the Other Side as they admired all of the wares and bought tickets, which made me slump in my chair and cross my arms over my chest. It was Dark Days back then, friends.

And honestly, I probably still wouldn’t have given a shit this time around either, except that I accidentally noticed it.

The best prize in all of the land.

A waffle maker.

I HAVE ALWAYS WANTED A WAFFLE MAKER! Henry is always “eh” about it when it comes up because he knows that I’ll be having him make some lavender fig chia seed monstrosity stuffed with some out of season exotic fruit that needs to be special ordered from a treetop garden in Tasmania.

And not that it comes up a lot, but I do read some bohemian lifestyle blogs for some reason even though I am neither Bohemian nor lifestyle, and they sometimes post photos of post-night, ante meridiem recipes (also known as: breakfast) for their fancy waffle maker sisterwives to say things like “amaze” and “so much yum” to on Instagram. Waffles are the shit. Waffles over pancakes any day. (Only because pancakes often make me sick, though.)

Our new admin person, Carrie, was the point person for the Chinese auction, so after digging out a crumbled dollar bill from my jacket pocket, I strutted to her desk and proudly thrust it at her in exchange for a ticket. Glenn, having heard my cries of waffle ecstasy, bought FIVE TICKETS and said he was going to put them all in the waffle maker raffle bag! AND THEN APPROXIMATELY EVERY OTHER PERSON IN THE DEPARTMENT DID THE SAME.


This waffle maker was a hot commodity. I felt a little relief knowing that there were two of them being auctioned off, at least. Two winners. MAYBE I WOULD BE ONE.

But then something terrible happened. Amber AG1 declared that she too wanted to win the waffle maker. This could ruin our friendship, I thought to myself nervously.

And then LOU bought some tickets from Carrie and I overheard him tell her that he wanted the waffle maker and I got so enraged. He’s already my least favorite analyst! (Don’t worry, he knows. I told him.)

“They’re both broken,” I shouted, trying to deter him. He just laughed and walked away with his Cheater Tickets and I was 100% wringing my hands at this point. Literally everyone wanted the waffle maker. Who even knows what else was over there! WAFFLE MAKER.

Glenn spent the rest of the day taunting me mercilessly. He said if he won, he was going to sell it, just not to me. Meanwhile, Amber was way more upbeat about her desire to win and was over at her desk practically singing “I want the waffle maker” to the tune of New Kids On the Block. This was in stark contrast to how  I was expressing myself, which was by moping, whining, and panicking about my odds all day.

I just knew I was going to lose. I never win these things!

Stop pouting, I told myself. Maybe out loud, even. The drawing hadn’t even started yet and I already had myself losing. I went outside for a walk to cool off a little, and I called Henry.

“Never mind,” I said with a big sigh as soon as he said hello.

“Never mind what?” he asked tentatively.

“Just forget it,” I sighed Eeyore-ishly.

“WHAT DID YOU DO?” he asked.

“IfIwonawafflemakerwouldyouuseit?” I blurted out in an auctioneer’s cadence.

“I mean, I guess,” Henry slowly answered, waiting for the other shoe to fall. And then I started gushing about the day’s events, and how I remembered that I actually brought my wallet that day and I had FIVE MORE DOLLARS to buy more tickets, and then Wendy felt so much pity for me that she put a ticket in the waffle maker bag too, even though she has a scar on her arm from a hotel waffle iron and basically never wants to look at one again, and then I begged Gayle to put in a ticket for me, too, and she originally said no but then I was like GAAAAAAYLE!!! and so she did it and OMG I’M GOING TO LOSE AREN’T I?!

Henry didn’t have much to say about this. Apparently, when I call him at work, he’s actually working, and doesn’t have “time” to care about my “problems.”

Back in the office, Carrie sent out an email saying that the first drawing was going to happen at 2:30. Glenn was all Glennish about this because he leaves at 2:30 everyday. I could barely hear his bitching overtop of my own pitiful wails of, “I WANT THAT WAFFLE MAKER SO BAD! I’M GOING TO PEE MY PANTS! OMG MY STOMACH HURTS.”

“Oh Jesus Christ, if I win the waffle maker, you can have it,” Glenn mumbled, slapping his tickets on my desk on his way out.

“SERIOUSLY?!” I cried.

“Yeah. I don’t want to have to hear about it if you lose,” he grumbled. I wonder what he put his other tickets in for. Probably this old army lunch box thing that someone donated.

At 2:31, Sue came over with two bags and had Carrie and Allison pick a ticket out of each one.

One of them was for the first waffle maker.

I was bouncing from foot to foot in anticipation, clutching all of my tickets in my hands. (The winning number for each item was emailed to the whole department, so no one but me bothered to actually go over and watch this happen.)

Allison drew in her breath and turned away from me a little.

“What?” I asked nervously.

Then Carrie looked at the ticket that Allison drew and she made a strangulated noise as well.

“WHAT? IS IT MINE?!” I yelled, knowing that it probably wasn’t because they didn’t know what numbers I had. So it must have been someone who wrote their name on the back. OH GOD PLEASE BE GLENN! I prayed. And then I felt gross for rooting for Glenn.

“It’s Amber,” Carrie said quietly.


Amber was so happy that she won, and I wanted to be happy for her too! I really did! When she walked past me to claim her prize, she stopped cheering and said, “Aw, but I feel bad!”

“IT’S FINE,” I tried to say in a happy, supportive tone but it came out through gritted teeth because OMG WHY AM I SUCH A BRAT. “I never win anything anyway, so I’m used to it,” I added just in case I hadn’t already come off as an industrial-sized, leaking douchebag.

WHY AM I SUCH A CRYBABY. There were no less than 87 moments that day when I floated outside of my body and looked down upon myself, frowning in disappointment. I guess, at least I’m aware?

A few minutes later, I went to get something off the printer and ran into Carrie, who was making copies. “Hey,” she said. “If you don’t win the other one, I’ll bring one in for you. I have one in my kitchen that I never use, and I swear you can have it. It’s not as fancy as this one, but it’s still good.”

And at this moment, I realized that I needed to stop thinking of Carrie as “Barb’s Replacement” because she is an awesome lady in her own right and has seamlessly fit right into our department in less than two weeks. CARRIE, YOU CAN STAY.

Seriously, that was a really touching moment. Until you remember that this was all over A WAFFLE MAKER.


I mean, waffles are the motherfucking jam, but are they worth this much drama? Probably not. But I was already up to my neck in it. Now I had to see this through. I shouldn’t have let myself drift off into all of the daydreams about opening a waffle stand in my front yard, mass-producing edible Frisbees (Waffbees? Frisfles?), costing Henry an arm and a leg in upscale waffle ingredients and a camera upgrade because you can’t eat fancy waffles without photographing it on a stained pallet surrounded by baby’s breath and monogrammed-stamped baby forks.

I was really getting ahead of myself. Goddammit.

Throughout the afternoon, more drawings took place, but there was so much time in between each one that it felt like when you’re taking a test in school and all you can hear is the methodic, amplified ticking of the clock.

Wendy ended up winning the weird army lunch box thing, and I have no idea why she even put in any tickets for that. It was probably just her against Glenn. And then Patrick basically won everything else because he’s a baller and bought like an entire spool of tickets.

Todd came back from lunch before the final waffle maker was won, and he asked me with faux-interest if anyone had won them yet.

It was hard to push the words out around my big, pouty bottom lip, but I somehow mustered the strength to tell him that Amber had won the first one.

“All that was missing was the trumpets,” I said melodramatically, and Todd started laughing. And then he said something along the lines of, “There, there. You still have one more chance.”

Right before the end of the day, Sue walked over to Amber’s desk with the waffle maker ticket bag and told her since she won the first one, she had to draw the ticket for the second.

“Oh no, Erin’s fate is in my hands!” she said, and I was so nervous that I got up and walked around. I DIDN’T EVEN WANT TO KNOW, YOU GUYS.

Sue gave the drawn ticket to Carrie, who in turn sent out the email to the department. I figured it was going to be Patrick, since he had a billion tickets in each bag.

And then I heard, “OMG I WON THE SECOND ONE TOO!”

My first reaction was: WAH!

My second reaction was: OMG CAN I HAVE IT!!!???

“Can I give it to Erin?” Amber asked Carrie, who shrugged and said she didn’t give a basic fuck.

“SERIOUSLY?!?!?!” I screamed as Amber passed it off to me like the goddamn Olympic torch.

“Yeah, I don’t need two!” she laughed. “Now we can both have one!”


Allison was just like, “Wow. What a relief.” I keep forgetting that she is still relatively new. We must look like a gang of fucking imbeciles to her.

“Wait. There’s something I have to do,” I said, and I walked over to Lou’s office with my waffle maker. “I just wanted you to see what I looked like holding the waffle maker,” I gloated, and he kind of hung his head a little and told me I’m mean.


But don’t feel too bad for Lou, because the last drawing of the day was for the biggest prize of all: a hug from Ethan, who absolutely hates hugs. And Lou won! He seemed happier with that than he would have been with a waffle maker. Me? I preferred the waffle maker because I, too, hate hugs.


Here’s a picture of my reflection while waiting for the elevator, with my WAFFLE MAKER IN MY ARMS! Amber, you are the best! We should have a waffle party!


When I got into the car after work, Henry did one of his patented mirthless-laughs and shook his head. “Great,” he mumbled.

I quickly relayed the day’s events to him and he said, “Were you a sore loser? Why am I asking. I know you were.”

Later that night, Henry, upon realizing that he had never even heard of the brand, googled the company’s name and discovered that it doesn’t even exist outside of eBay.

Buy It Now: $6.95.

I bought $6 worth of tickets, and I probably would have had to also pay for shipping, so all in all it’s still a deal if you ask me.

“It’s probably going to burn down the house,” Henry mumbled.

I’m going to use the FUCK out of this thing. And by that, I mean that I’m going to search the FUCK out of the Internet for waffle recipes to send to Henry.


In case you were wondering how the winning hug played out, here’s a video! A group of us gathered around noon and formed a big circle around Lou and Ethan, so it was like they were inside of a hug while hugging. It was fucking precious.

Apologies to all of my co-workers who probably have a waffle aversion after all of this. It escalated pretty quickly.

I can only imagine how disgruntled this waffle ordeal would have made the other Amber if this happened before she went on maternity leave. I can practically hear her saying, “Oh for God’s sake!”

Jan 042019

I’m one of those super uncultured losers who aren’t into the theater at all, especially musicals, and I have someone managed to make it to the year 2019 without hearing a single song from the soundtrack. But I at least knew the gist of it though, because I’m a moderately-educated American.

For instance, Chooch was surprised when I mentioned something about Aaron Burr the other day.

“You know about that?!” he asked, incredulous at the prospect of his lame mom knowing anything at all about Hamilton.

“Well, yeah,” I cried defensively. “I went to school!”

But in reality, I only know about Aaron Burr thanks to that Got Milk commercial from the 90s, but hey – AT LEAST I KNEW.

Our tickets were for this past Wednesday, January 2, which was perfect because it was still close enough to Christmas that it felt like a Christmas present for Chooch, and it was the second performance of the Pittsburgh run. Part of me was like, “Cool let’s get this over with” but there was definitely a part that was curious as well. People kept telling me that I had to listen to the soundtrack first or else I probably wouldn’t “understand” the show, but I never got around to it. Guys, when I’m obsessed with something, I have blinders on. There was no room in any of my days to listen to this.

Henry brought Chooch downtown on Wednesday. When I walked over to the car to get him, Henry was like, “Um, watch where you stand” and I was like, “?????????”

I looked down at my feet and there was a puddle of something near them.


Apparently, he drank bad egg nog at school and by the time Henry brought him downtown, his stomach had had enough and he puked outside of the car.

I started to panic. Was he going to make it through this night? Was I going to have to quickly sell these tickets? But Chooch was like, “No, I’m fine! I’ll be OK, I swear!” I had planned on taking him to V3 for pre-show pizza, but he was like, “I had pizza for lunch…” meaning, the puddle on the sidewalk was his pizza. He was like, “I just won’t eat, I’ll just get a drink” but then he agreed to split a personal pizza with me. He seemed to perk up after that, but I had flashbacks to when I was the same age as him and my mom took my best friend Christy and me to the Fulton Theater downtown to see Annie, the only musical I have ever truly loved. (OK, and RHPS, too.) Prior to the show, we stopped and had pizza. Christy started to complain halfway through the show of a stomach ache.

By the time the show was over and we were leaving our seats, she had apparently gotten worse. I kept jokingly pushing her down the steps in the aisle, in spite of her warnings that she was going to puke. I laughed like the greatest friend that I am and said “Yeah right!” as I gave her one final push. Her final plea was cut off halfway through as her words were replaced by a spewing geyser of vomit.

It was one of those AND TIME STOOD STILL moments. I vividly remember this little girl walking by with her rich-bitch mommy in a fur coat and screaming, “EW MOMMY LOOK!” Christy was mortified, my mom was like, “She’s not with me” and I was laughing because well, I was a dick even back then.

To this day, Christy gets mad when I bring this up.

Was Chooch going to yak during Hamilton? Did we have an aisle seat?! WAS IT TOO LATE FOR HENRY TO COME BACK AND TAKE MY PLACE?!

But, by the time we finished the pizza, Chooch was feeling fine. I knew he didn’t want to miss this show  but I still kept asking him over and over because PLEASE DON’T EMBARRASS ME. Karma, come back another day!

He seemed completely back to normal once we walked over to the Benedum – maybe seeing the lights and all of the Hamilton posters chased the spoiled egg nog away (his idiot Communications teacher gave it to him and it was from the class Christmas party THAT HAPPENED BEFORE CHRISTMAS BREAK. WTF was she thinking?!). We had about an hour before the show started but I’m always nervous before any type of event so I was like, “WE’RE HERE SO WE MIGHT AS WELL JUST GO IN OMG YOU DIDN’T BRING A SWITCHBLADE DID YOU?” as we walked through the security checkpoint.

He didn’t, thank god. And I brought a tiny purse with nothing other than my phone and lipgloss in it so we breezed right through and then got in the merch line to pay a fucking $40 t-shirt (a steal when compared to the $50 water bottle that Chooch originally wanted. A FIFTY DOLLAR WATER BOTTLE.)

After that, we had 30 minutes to kill before we were allowed to go to our seats (which, btw, were not on the aisle) so we sat near a balcony and judged people.

“Even with all  these rich people here, I dare you to find a nicer coat than mine down there,” I challenged Chooch, and after craning his neck for several minutes, he reluctantly conceded that my awesome goldenrod tapestry coat was indeed the best coat in the whole house. *blows on fingertips*

Our seats weren’t as terrible as I thought! We were in the balcony but the view was great.

Our seats were right next to my friend Lori from work and her mom. Lori and I went and bought our tickets at the same time at the box office several weeks ago so the box office guy gave us seats next to each other, which was cool. She took a picture of me looking at my phone and posted it on Facebook with the caption, “Sorry Erin, there are no Koreans in this production” or something and of course all the people liking it were our fellow co-workers, ugh! It’s true though that I did look up the cast in advance to see if any Koreans were in it and I was excited for a second when it looked like  the guy playing Washington was Korean but it ended up being a different traveling cast, ugh.

I’m not gonna lie – I was nervous when the lights went down and the first scene started, because like I said, I hadn’t listened to any of the songs and people were essentially shaming me for this. But I got into it very easily! Maybe just people who aren’t familiar with rap/hip hop should listen to it first? I don’t know, but that’s the music I listened to for most of my teen years so I wasn’t like, shocked, and if anything, even though it did have a lot of flava to it, it still mostly sounded like a musical to me.

I won’t go into every single detail here but my lord, that by far surpassed the hype, in my opinion. And I’m one of those people who’s extremely stubborn and will often hate popular things right away without giving it a chance because I’m not a very agreeable personality. This is also why I was glad that we got tickets for the second night because it seems like nearly our entire department is going to see it at some point and I feel like if I had to sit there and hear people around me talking about it every day, I would probably get tired of hearing about it and lose interest, maybe? This is the type of person I am. You’re learning lots about me today!

BUT WAIT BACK UP — this is really about Chooch. I was scared that he would lose interest at some point because he’s like that – even when we’re at concerts for bands he likes, he’s like checking his phone for Fortnite updates and getting fidgety. But on this night, he sat up straight, never took his eyes off the stage (except for a few times when he was trying to look at things in the program, which was adorable), and he fucking applauded like this was 1942 and he was wearing gloves at the Opera. I kept sneaking peeks at him and it was absolutely heart-warming to see the expression on his face! 100% worth the hassle and cost of those tickets (Henry has reminded me numerous times that my G-Dragon tickets cost nearly 3x what I paid for Hamilton LOLOLOL all the way to the poor house).

By the end of the show, my face was wet from all the tears. “I KNEW you would cry!” Chooch laughed.

I wasn’t prepared for how emotionally draining it would be! I am so happy that we went. I learned a lot too, lol! I would 100% not only recommend this to everyone I know, but I would go see it again for sure. It really felt we were watching the theatrical masterpiece of our generation.

When we got home that night, Chooch had to do his homework still so he put on the Hamilton soundtrack and started writing Hamilton-related sample sentences using prepositional phrases, but only after he opened up the program and underlined all of his favorite songs after seeing the show live. So, I think it’s safe to say that this really was Chooch’s “big” Christmas present — and he didn’t embarrass me by puking!

[P.S. Someone on Instagram asked if we “let” Henry come too and 1. we aren’t rich people who could afford three tickets to that, thanks;  and 2. Henry preferred to stay home and have his own private musical called “Henry Has the House to Himself.” Act 1: Whoa, Time to Watch AMERICAN TV! Act 2: Sleeping on the Couch with the Cat.]

Aug 072018

Hi, I’m back with the shocking conclusion of my previous post, Being Tourists In Pittsburgh. WOW, HOLD ON TIGHT. Just kidding, feel free to flail around.

After we left the Heinz History Center, we walked Jessi back to the hotel so she could get started with her pre-Rocky Horror performance process. We didn’t want to be the ones responsible for jinxing her by pulling her away from that, so released her to the Omni William Penn and then continued walking to Millie’s because Bill said he was down for ice cream but I think he knew he didn’t really have a choice because I was like, “Millie’s is the best; we’re going.”

Look, Pittsburgh has got a lot of great ice cream options but Millie’s is the one that always wins a spot on my itinerary when I have out-of-town guests visiting. (So like, twice so far, lol.) They just make really delicious, fresh ice cream and sorbet made with local ingredients and they’re always getting involved with the community—you know the types! Just all-around great people and Henry loves it because you can buy little packages of waffle cone pieces which I think is genius because what else are you going to do when you’re making homemade waffle cones and one breaks? YOU DON’T THROW THAT SHIT AWAY.

Also, they plug the butts of the waffle cones with a marshmallow so you don’t get melted ice cream tracks running down your shirt and arms like I generally do everywhere else we get ice cream cones.

The main reason I wanted to go to Millie’s (I mean, other than to treat my awesome friends to some great ice cream!) was because they updated their Instagram that morning with a new flavor: BLUEBERRY PANCAKES.

The description is what really sold me though: fresh blueberry compote, homemade syrup from some dude name Paul, and, this is what sealed the deal for me: real pancakes from Square Cafe in Regent Square. I love Square Cafe and I love pancakes so I wanted to eat this on that day, it was imperative.


They actually ladle the syrup right on top of the scoop!

Chooch got his standard scoop o’ chocolate, which inspired Bill to do the same. Peer pressure, Bill’s got it. I always mock Chooch for having such a basic palate but Millie’s chocolate actually is indescribably perfect.

I forget what Henry got. One of the sorbets, I think. Who cares.

We went back to the Omni after that and Bill was dumb and invited us into their room without even bothering to squirt us with holy water first to make sure we’re not vampires. Jessi was still getting ready (she was being the Criminologist for that night’s show so she had a lot of costuming to do!) so we decided that we were going to investigate this so-called fifth floor that most of the elevators skipped over. Bill said he noticed that there was one particular set of elevators that actually had a button for the fifth floor, so we sought out that one and then held our breath while it descended.

However, when the doors opened, we were immediately disappointed. I guess I was expecting something out of Nightmare on the 13th Floor*, hallway all blood-red with fancy tapestries and gaslight sconces, Victrola music humming from behind someone’s locked door.

*(HAVEN’T YOU EVER SEEN THAT MOVIE?! It was a 1990 made-for-TV movie that USA frequently played and it scared the shit out of me. Look that up.)

But no, we could tell right away that it was just a floor full of offices.

Such a let down.

Then we went to the room where the convention was happening because there was a raffle drawing about to take place and Bill and Jessi had some stake in it.

“They haven’t checked anyone’s badge the entire time we’ve been here, so I don’t think it’ll matter if you guys come with me,” Bill assured us, and Chooch and Henry were like, “That’s cool” and never thought about it again, while I was being my typical “DEER IN HEADLIGHTS-TOTALLY SUSPICIOUS-LOOK AT THE SPOTLIGHT ON ME-I’M NOT SUPPOSED TO BE HERE” self.

Henry said that there were some girls asking me about my purse when we walked in but I completely ignored them because I couldn’t hear them over the metallic ringing in my ears BECAUSE OMG ARE WE GOING TO GET BUSTED.

I felt like everyone knew we weren’t actually convention-goers and I was doing everything in my power to burrow myself into Henry’s armpit. I have many layers and one of them is that I HATE STEALING and I felt, in a way, that we were being thieves by waltzing into this convention without purchasing a badge. Granted, we only sat there long enough to watch some broad named MONTANA clean up on all the winnings.

Bill was irate.

We hated Montana after that! Plus, she wasn’t even present to collect her bounty! They should have tossed aside her tickets and drawn again! Don’t get me started on Montana.

Afterward, we went back to Bill and Jessi’s room. Jessi was nearly finished getting into her role by then, but Henry had just enough time to fall asleep in an arm chair.

His favorite thing! Sleeping in other people’s hotel room!

Then we piled into our car and drove back to the Hollywood Theater which is literally about a 5 minute walk from my house. The Hollywood is famous for being in The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It’s also where the Rocky Horror Picture Show and the shadowcast has played for like, decades. Tonight’s show was special because it was going to feature an all-star shadowcast from different cities. Jessi had submitted an audition tape a while back for this and was accepted so when Bill asked us if we wanted to come out and watch her, how the fuck could I turn that down?

Henry and I had a brief parental powwow about whether or not we should take Chooch with us to this but then I reasoned that I was his age when I first watched RHPS. BLOG READERS, WALK WITH ME:

It was Easter of 6th grade (whatever year that was) and my BFF Christy (see also: Crystal Lite and Crystal McGoo-Goo) was sleeping over which meant we were in the market for some horror movie rentals. My aunt Sharon took us to Blockbuster (miss you, baby) and recommended RHPS to us. I mean, if one were to judge a VHS by it’s box, it did look like it had horror movie potential.

However, after watching it that night, we were immediately disappointed. It had it’s grotesque moments but it wasn’t the eye-covering 70s slasher film we were in the mood for. We grumbled about it for a bit and then went to sleep.

When we woke up the next day, however, I looked at Christy and whispered, “Do you want to watch that again?” and she was like “YES” and then WE DID and by the end of the second-viewing, we knew the Time Warp front and back, left to right, and I was writing diary entries entitled WHERE HAS TIM CURRY BEEN ALL MY LIFE. We were shook and hooked, you guys.

There was this one time when my mom hid the video camera inside the fireplace and recorded us doing the Time Warp. I texted her last week and asked her if she remembered this and instead of saying, “No, you must have dreamt that” which is her typical response when she doesn’t want to fess up, she said, “Lol, yes. Hilarious.” I’m sure that’s still floating around somewhere, along with footage of me dancing to Queen’s Radio Gaga with rollers in my hair.

We were so obsessed that we used to sing parts of RHPS songs as roller coasters at Kennywood would be carrying us up the first hill.

“I bet she doesn’t remember that,” Henry scoffed, knowing that none of my friends ever remember the things from our childhood that seemed like BIG MOMENTS to me.

But then I texted her and this happened, so fuck off Henry:

So, all of this is to say that I was pretty excited to be experiencing this all over again but with Chooch this time.

We arrived at the Hollywood before tickets went on sale, since we were basically the Criminologist’s entourage so Chooch, Bill and I sat on a couch in the lobby, where Chooch got his first taste at RHPS as all of the Columbias and Franks sauntered around before him.

He just kept shaking his head.

“You have no idea what you’re in for!” I laughed.

Pre-show selfie! I was so stoked for her, but also experienced sympathy butterflies.

Here’s a picture from the basement bathroom of the Hollywood which I have actually never been in, after literal decades of seeing movies there. I think it’s probably haunted. Anyway, I took this picture because my popcorn purse was getting mad love from all the RHPS convention attendees that day which made me glad that I splurged on this at Everland in Korea. I didn’t want the popcorn (although it ended up being delicious and banana-flavored, because Korea) but when I saw people walking around with it that day in the park I had mad visions of using it as a purse. I mean, it’s pretty clunky and only fits like, lipgloss and some change, maybe a tampon (I’ll have to try) but this bag is everything.

After sitting around for nearly an hour waiting to buy tickets (they weren’t being sold through the theater), Bill finally had enough and said, “THAT’S IT, WE’RE JUST GOING IN.” ANyone with a badge had free admission, so Jessi gave me hers since she was performing, but I still felt like, again, A FUCKING THIEF.

Bill reasoned that he and Jessi had given the convention people enough of their money and us not buying $15 tickets wasn’t going to hurt them, but I still felt so guilty and paranoid walking to the seats that Jessi saved for us. IN THE SECOND ROW. WE WERE PRACTICALLY SITTING DUCKS FOR THE CONVENTION PEOPLE TO SPOT. Chooch was oblivious and just sat there eating popcorn, checking out all the fishnets and corsets, but I was gnawing my fingers to the bone over this.


“Would you calm down?! They’re not going to do that.”

They didn’t do that.

It was fine.

We assimilated and no one gave us a second glance.

Bill bought Chooch and me prop bags, not considering the repercussions this would have on Henry, who ended up soaking wet and covered in covered by the end of the night. Also, as soon as Chooch was explained the concept of the prop bags, his attention was piqued and he was in it to win it.

Before the show started, they played the audition tapes of all the out-of-town shadowcast participants and we screamed our faces off when Jessi’s was on the screen.

Anyway, the show was fantastic and Jessi killed her part! Second to that, I had so much fun seeing this movie again through Chooch’s eyes. In the beginning, when all the RHPS virgins had to go up to the front and fake orgasms, Chooch was like SRSLY MOM WTF and Henry was just like FROWN FROWN FROWN GOOD JOB BRINGING OUR PRE-TEEN HERE, but then Chooch was so into the audience participation elements that he forgot he was witnessing age-inappropriate shenanigans with his parents and snapped his rubber glove with wanton abandon.

What a fucking awesome night with Bill and Jessi. I mean, all of our hangouts are totally memorable and hilarious, but this night is definitely up at the top. And I can’t think of anyone better to expose Chooch to RHPS than the people who played Cards Against Humanity with him when he was like 8 (and he won). And Henry only slept through some parts of the show, not all!

We went to Tom’s Diner afterward and Chooch had so many questions. So. Many. Questions.

He is in SO DEEP now that by the next morning, he had YouTubed all of the song-scenes, learned a bunch of call-backs, and is ready to go to Michigan to watch Jessi perform there with her cast.

I laughed a little bit to myself at work the other night because my boss was talking to me about Chooch and how many cool experiences he’s had in his short life because of Henry and me. “You guys are great parents! Taking him to all kinds of places that most kids his age don’t get to go!” and in my head, I was like, “Yes, like Rocky Horror Picture Show.” He is certainly well-versed in a myriad of pop culture categories!


A few days ago, he came home from the library and said that he was singing “Sweet Transvestite” and Liam and Markie were like, “What is a transvestite” so he explained it to them, and that’s my son, broadening horizons and opening minds.


P.S. Bill & Jessi ended up meeting Montana the next day and he said she was actually very nice so we felt for motherfucking her and all her raffle wins. OR DID WE.

Aug 042018

Last fall when we visited our friends Bill and Jessi in Michigan, Jessi mentioned that there was a strong possibility they’d be in Pittsburgh at the end of July for a Rocky Horror Picture Show convention and that weekend had been emblazoned in my mind ever since. I refused any publicity events, interviews, or party invites that I received for that weekend (LOL). Seriously though, we had all been looking forward to this so hard but I kept my expectations super low because I knew they would be busy with convention stuff.

They had time Saturday afternoon for a museum break so Henry, Chooch and I met them in front of the Omni William Penn where they were staying (it’s haunted, so that was a bonus for them!) and made the 10 minute walk to the Heinz History Center because they were interested in seeing the Mister Rogers set artifacts.

First we had to walk past a sidewalk filming of this one really aggressive religious group that has a show on the public access channel and that was scary. But then I got to show them the famous Two Andys mural  and of course point out the Army Navy Store with the infamous machete purchased. Meanwhile, they were both saying very nice things about the city and it always helps chip some of the jade off my soul when I’m seeing PIttsburgh through someone else’s eyes. So I was kind of like, “Yeah, it’s not too b ad here.” Then a few days later I got caught in a rainstorm and almost passed out at the rising fumes of urine BUT I GUESS THAT’S MOST CITIES IN THE SUMMER.

Jessi took this picture of Chooch and Bill in front of what used to be the Toonseum, one of only three museums in the US dedicated to cartoon art, but apparently it recently closed and I have no idea how I didn’t notice this because I walk past there nearly every day!? I guess it closed in March and is now going to be a “roaming-museum” where they do events and stuff and honestly that does make more sense to me because my recollection of the Toonseum is that it was very small and not much was in there. So now I’m not too sad about it anymore.

We made it to the History Center safe and sound because I was a fearless troop leader and if there is one place I know my way around, it’s downtown Pittsburgh. Just don’t ask me for street names like some lady did the other day.

“If that’s 6th down there at that corner, is that 7th down this way?” she asked, pointing a certain way and I fucking FROZE and kept saying “um, uh” but then I remembered that she pointing the direction where there is a restaurant called Nine on Nine because it’s on 9th Ave and 900 Penn so that is how I was able to deduce that yes, the numbers went up in that direction. She didn’t seem very confident in my answer and was just like, “mmmmmmkay” but hey, she walked in that direction!

One time someone asked me where to get birth certificates and I was like, “Uh, have your mom re-birth you and the hospital will bring you one?” No really I just screamed I DUNNO and the person acted like it was a personal affront. Sorry, I only know alleys and cafes.

Anyway, it’s a shame that I have only been to the Heinz History Center once, and that was nearly 10 years ago at this point, when Vatican Splendors was touring the country and made a stop here in Pittsburgh so I made Kara go with me and watch me cry because religious artifacts really do it for me.

I know what you’re thinking, wow how much history could a dump like Pittsburgh have that it needs its own museum and here is where I will tell you to fuck off because only I can shit-talk my town, lol. I get really defensive when outsiders say disparaging things about it! But seriously, like most cities, Pittsburgh is rife with history and it’s not all steel mills and football, yay. I think it’s pretty common that Heinz was a huge deal for Pittsburgh and we are morally offended when we go to a restaurant elsewhere that has anything other than classic Heinz 57 on the tables. Piss off with that Hunts catsup junk.

After Bill nearly bought two memberships by accident, we headed straight to the Mr. Rogers exhibit which opened in March to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the show. I actually saw a lot of this stuff back when I was at Pitt when my creative non-fiction class took a field trip (lol) to the WQED building specifically to tour the Mr. Rogers set and write about it. Little did I know we were going to have to read it out loud the next week in class and here I was making asshole-y observations as I am known to do, so that was cool, reading that out loud. My writing teacher was the only person who liked me in that class. She had high hopes for me and I bet she would be so proud to know that I am still doing the same shit I was doing then – writing on a shitty blog.

Anyway! My favorite part of this day was actually seeing how happy it made Jessi to be there.

My second favorite part was when Chooch found out that there a stair-walking challenge where you take a slip of paper and get it stamped next to each stairwell to prove that you took the steps on every floor and then you can turn it into the gift shop and collect a prize! You better believe Chooch and I ran back up to the top of the last two floors to start this process, and yes, it would be super easy to just collect a stamp and not even take the steps but I hope that people wouldn’t do that. YOU’RE ONLY CHEATING YOURSELF!

Chooch was excited to point out the hearse to me. The funerary collections were definitely my favorites out of the whole museum.

This kneeler is so much better than ours! I’m jealous! (Yes, we have a kneeler in our house. Henry brought it home as a surprise one day because sometimes he’s actually in tune with my interests.)

If Jessi’s favorite part was the Mister Roger’s stuff, then Bill’s was this weird tooth-head doll. He was obsessed.

Henry didn’t have a favorite part because he’s seen all this shit before in his daily life. Because he’s old and museum artifacts ain’t got nuthin’ on him.

When we were looking at all the Heinz shit, I had this vivid flashback to when I worked at the Bad Place with Henry and our bosses had just come back from cruise. They were excitedly telling us that they were eating dinner with some other couples on the cruise and one of them was struggling to get the ketchup to pour out of the bottle. You’ve been there before, unless you’ve never had the pleasure of throttling a glass bottle of ketchup. Anyway, our boss Joe excitedly said to us, “And then I told them to strike the 57 with the heel of their hand and they thought I was joking but then they did it and it worked!” It’s a super common trick here in the ‘Burgh but people always think we’re nuts UNTIL THEY TRY IT AND THAT SANGUINE SAUCE COMES SHOOTING OUT. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, there is a small “57” on the actual glass of the bottle, not on the label, and striking it does the trick.  I didn’t see if the museum mentioned that anywhere but I’m also super well-known for peacing out when it comes to reading signs in museums.

I get bored easily.

Jessi was obsessed with the fact that pickle salesmen had leather cases for their pickles back in the day. I wish men still wore hates like hat but I can’t imagine Henry looking good in one.

I am suspicious of people who don’t like ketchup, just like I am of people who don’t have pets.


My third favorite part was when were in the interactive kids zone and I waited until some dumb kid finished making a picture on a lightboard and then I went over and messed it up. Henry frowned so hard but it would not be his biggest frown of the day.

Then I got lost for what seemed like days because that joint is big with lots of different ways to go!

I only went into the sports area to see the Penguins stuff but really it was because I was still lost and ran there in a panic. I almost considered joining another group and no, not once did it occur to me that I could have texted Henry, Jessi, or Bill using that newfangled contraption that it always glued to my hand.

You know, a cell phone.

God, you guys make me spell everything out!

I wish the Racer still looked like this! I’ll post pictures of when it looks like now soon, since I still have to vomit all my Kennywood birthday memories up on here.

Chooch wore this Isaly’s hat for the rest of the afternoon. IF YOU LIKE KLONDIKE BARS, THEN YOU’RE WELCOME.

The museum has an old trolley car that you can walk through and if the trolleys still looked like this perhaps I wouldn’t bitch so much every morning!

Anyway, Chooch and I collected all of the stamps needed and the nice lady at the museum gift shop register gave us each a small plastic Heinz ketchup pin and we were both like WORTH IT.

“Those probably cost like fifty cents,” Henry said, always trying to poop on our joy.


Stay tuned for the grand finale of their visit!

Jul 212018

Well guys, my last Warped Tour ever happened last Monday and even though I barely even have my pinky finger still dipped in that scene, it was extremely hard to say goodbye. Not ready to write about that yet as I’m still processing my feelings (#sodramatic #soErin) but I do want tell you about one of the standouts moments of the day for me!

It was in the low nineties that day so I decided to fuck trying to look good and just threw on shorts and my KpopX Fitness shirt because it’s one of the few white tank tops that I own and I wanted to stay as cool as possible. When we were waiting in line to get in, people were complimenting each other on their shirts because you know, you wear your favorite band shirt to Warped Tour and that’s how you make new friends. Henry joked that no one was going to care about my shirt because who wears a Kpop shirt to Warped Tour?

Hey, if I wasn’t so concerned about dying of heat stroke, I’d have worn my black G-Dragon tour shirt and given zero fucks about who cared!

Anyway, halfway through the day, Chooch and Henry were passed out on the hill and I decided to take that opportunity to walk around and soak up the Warped Tour atmosphere for one last time when I realized that With Confidence was about to come on the small Owly.fm stage.

I was in the middle of texting Henry to let him know what stage I was at when someone tapped my arm. Alarms immediately went off (see last post re: paranoid schizophrenia) because OMG HUMAN CONTACT. I quickly turned and saw a total stranger standing there because why would it be someone I actually knew, I have never run into anyone I know at Warped Tour because all of my friends are grown-ups.

So now I’m looking at this young guy-stranger, waiting for him to ask for a cigarette or directions because he thinks I’m Key Bank Pavilion staff, but instead he pointed at my shirt and asked, “What’s KpopX Fitness?”

This….was not what I was expecting to be asked. What was this guy’s agenda?! Was he going to try and sell me a Bible?! The Hare Krishnas usually love targeting people at Warped Tour.

“Do you know what kpop is?” I began, and he quickly waved me off.

“Yes, I know what kpop is, but what is kpop fitness?” he pressed.

So I explained it to him and he asked me how long I’ve been into that so now I’m to the point where alarms are still going off but now the paranoia police have arrived at the scene and I figured he was going to say, “WOW THAT LONG? THEN WHY ARE YOU STILL SO FAT?” but no, he then asked me what my favorite one was.

“Routine?” I asked. “Or kpop group?” I was still thoroughly ‘noided out, wondering what direction this conversation was headed, if he was in the process of pick-pocketing me or what.

When he said kpop group, I answered “BIGBANG” with no hesitation and asked him if he was into kpop too. At this point, I was sure he was going to bullshit me with some vague answer or say BTS because everyone knows BTS now, but he said, “Mine is 2NE1 but lately I’ve been really into Black Pink.”

HOLY FUCKING SHIT. Were there cameras on me? Was this guy real? Were we really talking about my favorite thing in the middle of my old favorite thing?!

“Oh OK! So you’re a YG guy then!” I said, my attitude totally changing and my real life personality oozing out from behind my perma-walls. This rarely happens anymore. It’s usually Stiff, Blank Erin all the way these days unless I’m with Henry and Chooch. It felt good and free to be myself in that moment!

“I just bought a CL shirt yesterday, she’s my bae,” he said and I was like OK THIS GUY IS THE REAL DEAL. So we talked about how CL is going to be in an American movie that’s coming out later this year, and how our friends make fun of us for liking Kpop, and I told him about running into Super Junior on the streets of NYC (“HOLY SHIT, that doesn’t happen!” he said, and I was like, “I know, that’s what I was trying to tell my friends!”), and how we both fell in love with Kpop in spite of our metal/hardcore loyalties.

And then With Confidence started their set, so we said goodbye and he ran back over to his friends while I stood alone in the crowd, smiling to myself while raindrops started to fall, fully appreciating the symbolism of this whole scene that just played out. The door might be closing on my Warped Tour chapter, but now I have a brand new world to immerse myself in and new connections to make. That’s pretty exciting.

When I found Henry and Chooch later, I excitedly told them about how I made new friend.

“What’s his name?” Henry asked.

“I don’t know,” I said with a shrug.

“Then you didn’t make a friend!” he sneered.


Jun 202018

It’s so hard to believe that it’s been a year already since Henry’s grandson Calvin was born! It’s been a lot of fun watching him grow and now he’s a regular walking machine!

Blake and Haley had a birthday party for him last Saturday at South Park and they really went all out–it was such a cute set-up. They wanted everyone to sign the frame around that picture of Calvin up there and of course Chooch was like, “I WANT TO BE FIRST” and then proceeded to write BAMBI super big on it, like WTF WHY?! I was so angry and then Blake and Haley saw it and were equally as angry and Chooch was like, “YOU SAID TO SIGN MY NAME AND MY NAME IS BAMBI.”

Why is my kid so freaking weird sometimes?


Don’t answer that.

Anyway, I diffused the situation by having him write in small letter “You’re cuter than” on top of the “Bambi,” and then “Love, Riley” beneath it. YOU’RE WELCOME.

Speaking of “you’re,” one of Haley’s friends signed it “You’re favorite aunt” instead of “Your” and so then Chooch got booted out of the hot seat. Whew.

You guys, these were the cutest cookies and they were goddamn delicious. I’ll be getting all my future party cookies from Give Mia Cookie now, I guess. We’ve had their regular bakery cookies and brownies before, and those are equally as delicious. If you’re local to Pittsburgh, give this place all of your business!

I love when a cookie meets my aesthetic and taste requirements.

Blake and Haley are the sweetest, most natural parents. I can’t believe I’ve known Blake since he was 8 and now here he is, being the coolest dad ever. AND HALEY IS PREGNANT AGAIN! She officially announced it last month so I’m OK to blab about it now. It was so hard not saying anything because I love spreading good news.

And here he is, the cutest little maknae of the family! It’s been a lot of fun having them living next door to us too. Henry will text Blake and be like, “Can Calvin come out and play?” He was sad last night because Blake was like, “NO HE’S DRINKING HIS MILK AND GOING TO BED, GO WATCH THE NEWS OR SOMETHING, DAD.”

We were kind of holding our breath when Calvin was born because we thought Chooch would have a lot of resentment since he’s so attached to Blake, but he actually takes his uncle role very seriously and Calvin freaking lights up when he sees him.

I bought Calvin some Korean children’s books so that we can learn together, haha. After I bought them, I realized that I’m the only one who will be able to read them to him because there isn’t any romanization in them (thank god, though, really) and I’m not a huge fan of reading books BUT I WILL DO IT FOR CALVIN. My goal is for him to someday be able to read the “I Love My Mom” book to Haley in Korean.

Anyway, it was a really nice afternoon and my mom even came! She got him this hip hop ABC book, lol. Calvin is going to be so well-rounded.

I’m excited for when he can ride things at Kennywood, go to haunted houses, and choose a Kpop bias. You know, things I’m interested in. Maybe after three more birthdays.

Jun 102018

Somehow a weekend that included a dentist appointment ended up being one of the nicest ones I’ve had in a while.


First of all, we had our first group-hang with Tommy and Jessy since 2016! HOW DID THAT MUCH TIME GO BY!? Henry was trying to play it cool and coy but he was stoked to resurrect his bromance with Tommy. And Tommy was stoked to get to torture Chooch again.

He was literally saying, “LEAVE ME ALONE” right before I snapped this picture.

Anyway, we met them out in Oakmont at a small family restaurant called What’s Cookin’ Casey? and while there were some annoyances, I think we overall agreed that it was a good choice. The annoyances had nothing to do with the food and service, but the seating arrangement was kind of haphazard and even though we were in a booth, the tables that were set up in the middle of the floor were situated in such a way that we felt extremely crowded and boxed in. In fact, I started to have flashbacks of a similar discomfort and I realized that I had been there several years ago with Evonne and Wendy, and Evonne’s friend Barbara, and experienced the same panicked I MIGHT BE STUCK IN THIS BOOTH FOREVER collar-tugging sensation.

Meanwhile, Tommy was searching and squinting at the menu like he was prepping for the SATs, trying to find the “vegan” option that he swore he saw earlier when he looked at the menu online, and then finally acquiesced and said, “I think what happened was that I saw ‘veal’ and read it as ‘vegan.’ Oh well, sorry Erin.”

I was content with my rigatoni and marinara, though!

The other annoyance was the ASSHOLE KID IN THE BOOTH BEHIND US WHO FUCKING KICKED THE BACK OF THE BOOTH THE ENTIRE TIME AND JESSY, CHOOCH AND I WERE IN A STATE OF SLOW-SIMMER. At one point, we heard a huge BANG, CRASH and it turned out that little fucked fell off his booster seat, what a dumb shit.

Henry, who was sitting on the Safe Side of the table, mind you, kept trying to White Knight this little hooligan by pointing out that he “was little, like three” and that “it’s his parents’ fault, not his” but Chooch finally was like, “OK I see your lips flapping but I’m not hearing what you’re saying” and then stood up and said, “COULD YOU PLEASE STOP KICKING?” in the most terse, faux-polite, BOY ON THE EDGE voice I’ve ever heard come out of him and we all just collapsed in laughter.

At one point, the boy left the booth, presumably to go to the bathroom (good luck squeezing through the tables of elderly people, kid) but then he stopped next to our booth and FUCKING STARED AT US WITH THESE HUGE-ASS ALIEN EYES and he had super blond, lightning white hair like he just Uber’d here from Village of the Damned.

So fucking bizarre! We all just stared back at him, totally bullying this three, maybe four year old kid with our eyes, until he finally went back and sat down with his family.

MAYBE YOU HAD TO BE THERE but it was chilling.

Henry ordered a burger and Jessy became entranced by the pickles on his plate. So she asked the waitress to bring her one and she came back with a whole bowl of them! Jessy hadn’t even officially finished offering them to us before Chooch and I attacked the bowl with our dirty orphan mitts. WE ARE A HOUSEHOLD OF PICKLE-LOVERS. There were a bunch left over and Chooch tried to put the entire bowl in his pizza to-go box but Henry busted him and was like, “YOU CAN’T DO THAT, THAT’S STEALING” so then Chooch dumped the pickles out into the box and then somehow got pickle juice all over his leftover pizza so congratulations on ensuring that Henry and I won’t dip into your leftovers, son.

I’d eat pizza with pickles on it, but something about pickle juice makes me feel sick.

And by something I mean everything.

Sorry, Snooki.

Chooch and his pickle pizza.

Henry has been obsessing over our waitress’s ear tattoo ever since. “THAT HAD TO HAVE HURT!” he cried today when he brought it up out of nowhere.

After dinner, we walked across the street the Brr-Kees, where I immediately had ordering remorse.

For some reason, I wasn’t prepared for this place to have hard ice cream and had already in my mind pictured Future Erin eating up some soft-serve, so when I was met a few minutes later with numerous ice cream flavors, I panicked and Henry was like, “COME ON, ERIN, YOU’RE UP” and so I blurted out, “KEY LIME, I DUNNO!” and it was not great.

I ate half and then gave the rest to Henry, who had just finished a strawberry shortcake sundae, but that’s Henry’s role in our family. He takes the extra calories for the team.

If it were just the three of us, I would have pouted but Tommy and Jessy were with us and the bigger picture was that getting ice cream was just an excuse to extend our hang-out sesh anyway, so I was content!

But you guys! While we were in line waiting for our ice cream, THE EVIL TOW-HEADED KID AND HIS STRANGE FAMILY ROLLED UP! We started laughing so hard and I’m sure it was obvious what was going on, so this made Henry bristle because HE HATES SCENES.

Oh man, that kid’s frog-eyed stare though. It will haunt me.

Tommy tortures him.

And Chooch tortures Henry!

Then some lady came by with two golden doodles and Jessy, Chooch, and I got to pet them for an extended amount of time because their owner was super talkative and told us all about their lives as therapy dogs (well, the younger one is still in-training). She was a cool broad and her dogs were beautiful, so that was a nice highlight!

At one point, Jessy asked Henry if he’d ever go back to Korea and HE SMILED, YOU GUYS, HE SMILED AND EMPHATICALLY SAID, “OH, YES.” And then when she asked him what his favorite part was, he didn’t hesitate to say, “The markets.”

I finally found something that all three of us love equally and not just tolerate for the sake of one of us.

Great time hanging out with great friends. I know that schedules and responsibilities get in the way, but I am going to push to see them more regularly like we used to. Plus, it’s good for Henry’s self-esteem because Jessy is always complimenting him and Tommy talks to him about boy stuff.

And then today, we took a family walk in one of my favorite cemeteries – Uniondale. This is where we typically have our Xmas picnics, but it occurred to me today that it’s been a minute since we spent any time there; I needed some steps and Chooch is back on the Pokemon Go* bandwagon for whatever reason so we dragged Henry with us and it was actually really nice with zero arguing!

*(Apparently, Blake plays too so now that he lives next door, he comes over all the time to get Chooch and they go off on their dork adventures. It’s hilarious to me, because he’ll knock on our door and say IS RILEY HOME like he’s just another neighborhood kid and not Chooch’s 24-year-old brother who is also a dad, lol. “Blake plays Pokemon Go?” I asked last week, and Chooch matter-of-factly said, “Yeah, he’s a member of the Pittsburgh Pokemon group on Discord.” OMG.)

I still don’t understand Pokemon Go.

And now it’s pouring down rain, which cut the humidity, so Henry and I will be nice and comfortable when we embark on our Kpop Dance Cardio journey later on tonight!

Also? This is my summer jam, which is unfortunate for Henry, who does not like Vixx.

May 032018

*(I totally typed “Threats” at first which could easily be the case on any day.)

Three very important things happened today and I just couldn’t wait until the next bulletpoint post / word smorgasbord to tell you.

I mean, it’s not THAT great, but anytime anything even remotely exciting happens in my life, I’m pretty happy.

It all started last night when my favorite Pittsburgh ice cream joint posted on Instagram that, in honor of getting 10,000 followers, they were declaring today FREE CONE THURSDAY.

Just in their Market Square location!

Which happens to be right by my work!

I texted Amber and she was like YES so today we rallied our little group together and made a date for 2PM Free Ice Cream Cones. I emailed everyone the list of May flavors which Millie’s just released today and Glenn was like, “WHAT NO KIMCHI?!” I know, right?!

Anyway, I walked over to my old side of the floor at 1:58 to get everyone together and of course I was the only one ready! And then we had to wait for Amber to finish doing work stuff! Ugh! But eventually we all headed out together and everyone was so excited to be with me since I moved and now they don’t get to see my dumb face for 8 hours a day anymore.

And I was happy to be outside of work with real life people and hoped that some of the weirdos who are always slithering around out there would see and realize that I’m not just That Girl Who Walks In Circles Alone Downtown, but someone who actually has friends!

When we got to Millie’s, the line was out the door and down the sidewalk, which wasn’t surprising, but Amber was like, “Well, let’s just get in line and see how it goes” so we did and it actually moved pretty quickly! I mean, luckily for them, I was there to entertain them with my wildly riveting stories that they don’t get to hear everyday anymore.

I was so worried that people were going to cut in front of us and Amber and Lauren were like “You’re being silly” BUT THEN PEOPLE CUT IN FRONT OF US AND WHO IS THE SILLY ONE NOW?! I was so mad and I kept loudly saying, “Did those people cut?!” and Todd was like, “They sure did” and then Lauren was like, “Let’s distract Erin before she makes a shiv out of her plastic kpop keychains and stabs those poeple” so she started asking me questions about Mr. Small’s because she’s going to a concert there but I literally couldn’t stop staring at the people who cut and I was so afraid that they were going to get the last scoop of whatever flavor I wanted, and I didn’t even know what flavor I wanted yet.

“I FEEL LIKE I’M AT KENNYWOOD AND SOMEONE JUST LINE-JUMPED,” I seethed to Glenn and Todd who were both like, “It’s over now. Move on.”

But then we got inside Millie’s and Charlie Puth’s “We Don’t Talk Anymore” was on and I was like, “REMEMBER WHEN I SAW CHARLIE PUTH” and Lauren took this as her opportunity to make me forget about seeking revenge on the line-jumpers and said, “YES I DO! AND YOU WERE LIKE IN A SMALL ROOM WITH HIM TOO RIGHT” and then all was well. Thank god too, because I was almost as mad as I was the day before when I was on my lunch break walk and Henry mentioned something about golf on the phone and I flew off the handle about how golfers aren’t athletes.


“Phil Mickelson,” Henry sighed, because my Phil Mickelson obsession is something that he has been trying to figure out since like, 2004.

OMG, the rest of my day was pretty much ruined because of this. Thanks, Henry. Thanks, GOLF.

Um, back to Millie’s. Surprisingly, they still had all but one flavor left! I thought for sure we’d get there and they’d only have Golden Milk left, whatever that was. I kept wanting to call it Yellow Snow. But anyway, I got Yuzu Meringue, which was made with Asian citrus so it was the next best thing to Kimchi!

And it was sooooo good. There was a huge chunk of pie crust in it and you have no idea how much I love it when there is pie crust in ice cream.

Lol, I made them pose for this Team Building Ice Cream Cone picture and they were like, “For God’s sake, Erin.” BUT THEY DID IT.

Thank you, Millie’s, for having such amazing fan service! Or customer service. I keep forgetting that not everything is about Kpop.

Then later that afternoon, I was on my walk and saw Ovechkin, LOLOLOL:

In case you don’t know anything about hockey, he’s on the Capitals, and they are currently playing the Penguins in the Stanley Cup playoffs. He’s a huge rival of Sidney Crosby and Pittsburghers hate him.

AND THEN I CAME HOME AND KCON ANNOUNCED PENTAGON AS THE FINAL GROUP FOR KCON NEW YORK AND I STARTED CRYING!!!! They’re in my Top 3 favorite groups and I kept hoping they would be announced!!

However, if I’m able to get BTS tickets, there might be nothing left for KCON tickets. I mean, I guess I could always sell my plasma? Do people still do that? Being obsessed with things like I am makes life super stressful sometimes, haha.

This concludes my Three Thursday Treats blog post. I HOPE YOU ENJOYED IT.

Apr 272018

Isn’t it crazy when you can not see someone for years and years yet somehow fall right back into a comfortable groove when you do? That’s how it is with my friend Alisha, who I saw for the first time last summer since 2010, and again last Friday when she was in town visiting from Arkansas.

I was so glad that she carved out some time for me on this latest visit, especially when I texted her a picture of a Julian Baker concert flyer and her immediate response was, “YES LET’S GO TO THAT” and within minutes she bought tickets. I forgot what it felt like to have a friend who wants to go to shows!

But first, food. Alisha picked me up from work and we skipped all the frou-frou salutations and went right into our routine of her being annoyed and exasperated and me being totally giddy – ugh, I missed our dysfunctionally perfect yin and yang!

Alisha’s British-voiced GPS led us to Apteka, an Eastern Europe-Yinzer-Vegan joint across from the Allegheny Cemetery that my friend Sarah recommended to me over a year ago and I never made it there because kimchi or GTFO. However, Alisha is vegan so I thought this would be a grand time to check it out and I was happy that it wasn’t crowded yet and the staff wasn’t off-putting as they sometimes can be in a niche vegan eatery, leaving me feeling not inked-up enough and half-assed in my veg-ways. (Which brings us back to kimchi, which I know is made with anchovy paste but I still eat it because I never signed a contract, OK? Korea has changed me!)

Apteka is cafe-style which is kind of annoying when you walk into a place for the first time and they’re like BAM HERE IS THE MENU STAND HERE AT THE COUNTER AND I WILL STARE AT YOU WHILE YOU TRY TO FIGURE OUT OUR WEIRDO MENU GOOD LUCK WITH THE POLISH.

Alisha had a million questions and the Apteka girl very patiently answered her. She asked what the waitress recommended and she blew through the menu so fast I felt like I just been lead through a polka.

Alisha ordered the thing I was going to get so then I had to stand there and stammer, and of course I was unable to pronounce anything on the menu (is it nuts that I was trying to imagine what it would look like in Hangeul to help me sound it out?!) so I just pointed and said, “Lima bean.”

Because the thing I got had a lima bean purée and it was shockingly not phrased more dumb or pretentious than that because you know how nauseating menu descriptions can be in these types of places.  Let me see if I can find a menu…

Kluski Slaskie

baby lima bean + winter bitter leaves + potato dumplings + fried buckwheat + marjoram (GF)

I didn’t even notice that my meal had marjoram on it and I guess it doesn’t matter because I didn’t even notice it while I was eating it to even wonder what even is it. That was a weird sentence.


Alisha also ordered a pot of some kind of tea for us to share. It tasted like ground. Maybe it would have been better with sugar but do vegans eat sugar? I didn’t see any.

Alisha also ordered the Kanapki which was three pieces of small toast, each with a different spread on it. One was for sure carrot and that was the only one I liked.

Guys, that’s my plate at the bottom there and it was so fucking good – those potato dumpling dickheads were so fucking divine and I wanted so much more, and the fried buckwheat was WHAT THE HELL WHY HASN’T HENRY BEEN CRACKLIN’ BUCKWHEAT FOR ME ALL THIS TIME levels of tasty. And that lima bean puree? I didn’t have time to grab my bathing suit before diving into that bitchin’ legume lagoon.

That’s Alisha’s crap at the top.

Somehow, my dinner was considered a “large plate” and hers was “small” and cheaper yet seemed so much bigger and she was still working on it a good twenty minutes after I had licked the last lima smear from my plate.

To cap off our meal, I ordered dessert for us to split, and again, I could have eaten 5 plates of these.

My Apteka verdict is that the food was bomb and inventive, and even had a level of comfort to it that vegan joints sometimes lack. But, for the price I paid and the amount of food I ate, I was a little unsatisfied. I was ready for second dinner less than an hour later. Even still, I’ll probably go back again because I liked the atmosphere, the staff was great, and I want to try the other things on the menu — I’ll just be prepared to eat my arm later on.

Afterward, we went to the Carnegie Library lecture hall to see one of my favorite female vocalists, Julien Baker. Ugh, I have been dying to see her live for years now but something always comes up when she’s here. I thought I was going to end up going to see her alone because I don’t know anyone else who likes her and Henry was a hard nope, but it ended up coinciding perfectly with Alisha’s visit. She was my concert buddy when she lived in Pittsburgh back in the day and I was so excited to have another good music night with her!

Alisha was all frenzied because she wasn’t sure if we were allowed to park in the lot she chose, and then she was mad because we walked some totally long-ass way to get to the lecture hall when we could have taken a much shorter route, but I was selfishly happy about this because I needed the steps since it was week one of the Law Firm Walking Challenge (OH, I HAVE AN UPDATE ABOUT THIS TOO, CHECK BACK LATER) and I was kicking myself for planning an evening of DINNER and a SEATED CONCERT. Alisha was miserable because she had a bad cold and here I was, walking her around Oakland on a super chilly April night.

When we arrived, she was immediately annoyed because the young girls checking tickets at the door were all googly-eyed over my knack for accessorizing and then we stood in the bathroom waiting for the two occupied stalls to open up and then the bathroom door slowly started to open on its own and we were like WTF SCOOBY, GHOSTS!? but here it turned out Alisha had leaned on the handicap door opening button.

And then a few minutes later, we realized that only one of the stalls had been occupied that whole time, so that was cool.

“I should have known it was going to be a night full of stupid things,” Alisha sighed, insinuating that my presence draws this stuff out!?


Anyway, we found some good seats nice and close (BUT NOT TOO CLOSE) in the first row off the floor. Alisha was whining about why it hadn’t started yet and I was like, “Because it’s only 7. We have another hour.”

LOL Alisha thought it started at 7 that whole time and was so angry that now we had to sit in this growing-more-stifling-by-the-minute room. She amused herself by spying on a man who apparently looked at me twice after I said “bless you” to Alisha so she was convinced he was obsessed with me but clearly I think she was obsessed with him! He kept pretending like he was waiting for someone but then no one ever came…

Then people attempted to speak to Alisha and I thought she was going to will herself to incinerate into a pile of Arkansas ash.

“Why does this always happen? I was doing so good all these years and then I’m with you for like a minute…”

“And the awkward social situations come back?” I laughed, and she emphatically agreed.

It really was an interesting mesh of people there that night though. Lots of punk rock college lesbians, little girls, and old guys.

And us.

Tancred was the opener and I really don’t have much to say about them because I have tried so hard over the years to like them, especially when I got more into that Bledfest-type of scene, but I just can’t. The singer is fine but her voice doesn’t evoke a single emotion from me and the lyrics are kind of middle school diary.

But Julien though….

She performed mostly alone until closer to the end of her set, when her friend came out to accompany her on violin. I didn’t take any video and this picture is actually Alisha’s, because I kind of felt paralyzed with regurgitating grief and realized at one point that I was barely breathing.

Julien has this poignant and measured way of singing the most delicate, whispered notes and then, before you have time to prepare yourself, she is lurching her head back and full-blown power-vocals are roaring out of her small frame and sucking up all the oxygen in the room. She will leave you fucking breathless.

So, there’s this thing about me that you should know, and it’s that, as much as I love words, the lyrics of songs usually come secondary for me. It’s the music itself that heals me first and foremost, it’s what gets my heart started, the tears flowing. And then it’s the tone of the voice singing against that music. I have to laugh a little bit because when I was super into the post-hardcore and screamo scene, people would ask me how could I tell what they were saying? And I would say, “I can’t, and it doesn’t matter, because it’s still touching me.” And now, I get the same question because 99.9% of what I listen to is in Korean. And again, it’s the same thing. It doesn’t matter to me what they’re saying, because the music, and the sound of their voices singing in that perfect language, fills my heart with joy that I haven’t felt in such a long time.

But yet, Julien is the rare exception for me. Because I AM listening to her words. And they are slicing through my wrists like a rusty razor. To write the songs she writes…and to sing them with such brittle sincerity and honesty…you have to have a lot of pain in your life. I can’t imagine standing there on a stage in front of so many adoring fans, stripping down to your bare, aching soul, letting us all watch you relive whatever you were going through when these songs came to fruition. She gave us a gift that night, and I will forever cherish it!

This is one of my favorite songs. Careful, she might break your heart.

And then we thought we were going to have to live in the parking lot because one of the parking ticket machines wasn’t working right and traffic was all backed up and we blamed Henry for not driving us.

“You never asked?” he replied to my text. WELL, HE SHOULD HAVE JUST KNOWN TO DO IT!

And don’t you worry – I came home at 11pm and still managed to eke out 20,000 steps.