May 282024
 

April was a blur and I barely remember reading any of these, but here are some books:

  1. Wild Things by Laura Kay

Aw, I read this while in Korea. :( In hotel rooms, on trains, and on the plane – this was a pretty solid book to read while traveling. Not too terribly heavy, some good laughs, and a lot of collective “aw”s from the studio audience. A friend group move out to the country, buy a house together, raise chickens, and just kind of reset their lives. It made me want to flip my life on its head in a way, as well! Just…do something different. However! I wasn’t much of a fan of the protagonist. The other characters in the friend group were great but this broad was frustrating at times and didn’t have much of a personality.

Overall though, it was fun.

2. The Pachinko Parlour by Elisa Shua Dusapin

Apparently, I liked this because I gave it 4 stars but I don’t remember any of it, just that it was a very quick read.

3. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

Dude, everybody in Book Land has read this book, it feels like. I have been hearing about it for years. I’m not a huge romance reader, but out of curiosity – and because the audiobook was available – I gave it a whirl. And OK, OK, I get it. The writing was pretty damn good, the characters were well fleshed out. It was like reading an edgy cable sitcom. I really enjoyed the banter between the two work nemeses for sure but also – that this kind of behavior was going on in an office was pretty unbelievable.

4. Normal People by Sally Rooney

Another famous book on booktube. I. Fucking. Hated. This. I hated both main characters. I hated the writing. I hated it all. It was boring, insipid, and I did not give a shit AT ALL about these two idiots – Marianne especially. I kept hoping she was going to die.

5. Spoiled Brats: Stories by Simon Rich

OK, I’m not generally into short story collections but this one was funny. The only story I didn’t like was the very first one because *animal stuff* but the rest were right up my alley (that is to say: idiotic). My favorite was “Sell Out” – I wanted more! Then I found out it had been made into a movie (An American Pickle) starring Seth Rogen and now I need to watch it.

6. I Who Have Never Known Men by Jacqueline Harpman

Three stars because the writing was fine but for me in particular, this story was not something I enjoyed. I mean, it’s about a bunch of women locked in a bunker who one day escape only to find that there is nothing left of the world. Is this really something meant to be enjoyed? I felt awful and uncomfortable – and hopeless – through the whole thing, and I guess that’s the point. My Goodreads review was a simple and succinct: “Bleak.”

7. The Day Tripper by James Goodhand

Ugh I forgot about this one. When will I get it through my thick head I just don’t like time travel. And I just didn’t like this book.

8. Weyward by Emilia Hart

First of all, can we take a moment to admire this exquisite book cover?

It’s the best part of the book.

I mean, the story itself was fine, but s l o w. There are three timelines and we’re following a different-but-related woman in each. I didn’t really prefer one over the other – each storyline had its merits and sluggy-sections. But I will say, the end was satisfying.

9. End of Story by A.J. Finn

Ugh. Not worth writing about. So hokey. 2 stars. Five stars for the author photo though, cute dog!

P.S. The audiobook was so fucking obnoxious.

10. Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano

4 stars. Sad, funny, cozy. Made me wish I grew up with a gaggle of sisters close to my age.

11. The Other Mothers by Katherine Faulkner

Three stars. Just a mid domestic thriller.

12. The Vacationers by Emma Straub

Not ground-breaking or even that memorable, but it was fun, chaotic, dysfunctional. Great characters. I want to go to Mallorca now. I will read more from Emma Straub. (Her dad – RIP – is my favorite horror writer!)

13. First Lie Wins by Ashley Elston

OK so a lot of this played out like some lame thriller TV show that Henry would be into but the end was SO GOOD. The last line especially. Love a good last line.

***

That’s all the page-flippin’ I did in April.

May 272024
 

In the months leading up to our Korea trip, I had been stressing myself out over putting together a wedding-but-not outfit to wear for pictures. I didn’t want anything that resembled a wedding dress and I also didn’t want to do the whole hanbok get-up because I’m not Korean nor am I marrying a Korean so that feels a bit too much like cultural appropriation, you know? Some of my friends were asking me if I was going to do that and I was like “do you even know me though.”

In the end, I ended up buying a lavender tulle skirt with tiered-ruffles and Henry helped me make gold glitter stars to pin to them. I had an off-white fitted crochet sweater to wear on top and purple holographic CAT AND JACK boots from Target lol – yes, literal kids shoes but they were perfect.

Henry brought a button-down shirt that sort of matched my skirt.

I kept putting off this photoshoot while we were there until finally it was the last day. Henry and I woke up early that Monday and while I was getting dressed, I just knew it was a bad move, you guys. I could feel it in my bones – we were going to get dressed, leave the hotel room, go to wherever (I think I had wanted to go Bukchon Hanok Village) and then fight. I hate hate hate having my photo taken and even though I loved my outfit – it was cute and comfortable and completely my style – I just didn’t want to deal with photos

“Look,” I said to Henry, who had just put on the “regular-people jeans” I made him buy for this (his usual jeans are SO BAGGY). “If we do this, we’re going to fight and it’s going to ruin the day. I don’t care about the pictures. I don’t care what anyone else thinks either, I don’t want to do this.”

“THANK GOD,” Henry said, swapping out the jeans for his regular hobo pants.

I am pleased to say that it’s been two months now and I still have no regertz about that decision. We have the photos with our marriage license outside of the Jongno district office and that’s all I needed.

Speaking of, Henry had to go and pick the license up from wherever he left it for the APOSTILLE process. (I already forgot about this part since I wasn’t there for it but if you feel like it, you can read the whole Korean marriage odyssey here.) We decided to let Chooch sleep in and set off to walk to Gwanghwamun Square so Henry could get the license and he suggested stopping by Deoksugung Palace, which is one of the ones we have never visited before.  It’s the smallest of all the palaces but still something I had always wanted to see.

We knew it wouldn’t be open that early but that we could still walk around it so it was a nice detour on the way to get the marriage license.

Well, except that I was IN A MOOD. Gonna be real here, I was being stubborn, contrary, argumentative – all of the things. Just one big ass walking SCOWL. Because I am still a child in that I don’t know how to process my emotions. So, while I was acting like a big fucking brat-bitch, totally spoiled and never satisfied, my core emotion was sadness. I did NOT want it to be our last day, but instead of making the most of it, I was a complete asshole and the only reason Henry or Chooch didn’t push me into the Han was probably only because we were never anywhere near it that day.

I don’t know what kind of magic chokehold Korea has me in but I was an absolute monster on this day. (I mean, I had my moments because not even I have enough energy to keep up that kind of shitty attitude all day, but um, yeah my behavior was embarrassing a lot of times during this day.)

I’m pretty sure it was after this picture was taken where my mood totally turned on its head because HENRY JUST COULDN’T DO ANYTHING RIGHT AND I HATED HIM EW WHY DID I MARRY HIM, etc etc. Luckily, it was still early enough in the morning that we didn’t have an audience and to Henry’s credit, he knew what the real issue was and was being very careful with his words, handling me with kid gloves, trying to make suggestions just for me to find ways to twist his words (“OH, SO YOU’RE SAYING I’M FAT” when he said, “Let’s keep walking this way” after I pointed to a cafe across the street that I wanted to go to because I was hungry and needed coffee and really he just didn’t want to cross the street (it was a busy multi-lane road) and knew there would be 87 more cafes coming up).

Basically, I was just being super cuddly and adorbs that morning.

Literally I’m probably mumbling death threats to him here.

I know for sure I was hissing, “JUST TAKE THE PICTURE, DID YOU FUCKING TAKE IT” and then openly raging because he didn’t get what I wanted in the background. When he offered to do it again, I told him to fuck off, demanded the room key, and walked back to the hotel alone while he went to collect the marriage license that he probably didn’t even want any more at that point, haha ughhhh.

As I walked away, I threw a covert glance over my shoulder to see if he was following me because he was supposed to, that’s secretly what I wanted, but then at the same time I would have thrown a fit if he HAD followed me and accused him of thinking I couldn’t find my way back on my own and I’m sure he was more afraid of the consequences of following me than NOT following me so in the end, he went to whatever building in Gwanghawmun Square to get the marriage license on his own and I walked back to the hotel and made Chooch – who was now awake and dressed – go out to get coffee with me.

Originally, we were going to go to a nearby A Twosome Place because it’s been a joke since the first time we were there in 2018 that we couldn’t go to A Twosome Place since there are three of us. “Now’s our chance,” I said to Chooch who probably said, “Wow you’re so cool” in response because when Henry isn’t around, all of Chooch’s surliness is directed toward me. It’s fine.

But then that particular location ended up being in the lobby of an office building adjacent to our hotel so they didn’t have the full menu which allegedly included meat-free breakfast sandwich options. Chooch didn’t really care and said he was fine just going to a GS25 or whatever, so we went to one rigt around the corner and got some small packaged things for breakfast.

I still wanted coffee though so we kept walking and found this really tiny cafe called Aze Coffee. Literally only had two tables but it was fine!

Chooch got a dalgona latte and it was topped with pieces of it so he let me have one without much arguing, probably because, as my loyal and caring son, he could intuit that I was having a bad day and not at all because I had whined repeatedly that I was HAVING A BAD DAY.

Ugh.

Anyway, that was a really nice experience though, getting coffee on our own without Henry who thinks we can’t survive without him.

When he eventually came back to the hotel though, he had a bag of salt bread from a bakery that he passed on the way back and I guess that was an OK peace offering even though it wasn’t as good as my precious salt bread from Ikseondong.

Stay tuned for more Last Day Mood Swings.

May 262024
 

As previously referenced, we spent last weekend at Cedar Point with Chooch and two of his friends – Zakk and Ben. It was Ben’s first time at CP and I’m sad to say it wasn’t the greatest inaugural experience because it was just a bad weekend to go, not that any weekend is great at Cedar Point, but this was one of the worst we’ve ever experienced. Sunday wasn’t TOO bad but Saturday was extremely crowded, like 2+ hour wait times for most of the coasters, and food lines not much better.

The vegan place is gone (I think it was actually taken out last year TBH), Melt is gone, the area that usually has a fleet of food trucks was barren. And one of the food trucks was my go-to because they had the BEST veggie burger, like it was actually homemade and full of nutritional goodness and not just a Beyond Burger out of the package. And on top of that, not all of the food places were open, making the lines extra line for the places that were open.

The one good thing about Saturday was that the weather was really mild and cool, actually kind of chilly at times. I never took my little jacket thing off all day.

Top Thrill 2 was closed indefinitely for maintenance after only a week of being open and I truly was not sad about that. I hate-hate-hated the OG and while I will give its reincarnation at least one try, I am not expecting to love it. I am a wuss with stratacoasters :( However!! The TT2 commemorative beer (I think on IG I called it TT2’s namesake beer which is like, reversed, but I didn’t care enough to go back and change it because who even cares about social media anymore – millions of content creators, I guess, LOL) and it was actually very good. I mean, it was a lemon shandy, so I’m sure my review would be a lot different if it was an IPA or whatever. But it was nice to relax on a bench across from the Ferris wheel and sip on this big boy instead of standing in a 2 hour long line for something – EVEN THE CAROUSEL HAD A HUGE-ASS LINE.

Cedar Lane Downs was a short wait. With the crowds being so bad (there were a TON of school bands there), we rode mostly flat rides all day (when we were riding anything at all, we mostly just walked around aimlessly and I kept saying I’M BORED THIS IS BORING like the brat that I am). I dunno what Chooch and his friends were doing. Waiting 2 hours to ride Maverick, I guess.

I *think* the only coaster we rode on Day 1 were Corkscrew (when we first arrived, the wait was 30 minutes which is about 29 minutes too much to wait for Corkscrew but it would end up being the shortest wait for a coaster all day and it was also somehow Henry’s first time riding it – we sat in the front and I kept saying, “This is less awful than I remembered it to be!” while Henry was screaming, “THIS SUCKS! OW MY BACK!” Lol.), Gatekeeper, and Wild Mouse.

It was just such a bad scene.

Ugh.

I LOVE CALYPSO so much so here are some photos of that – also the ride attendant’s shoe was untied and it was bothering me.

Yay. Calypso.

I wish Kennywood still had this ride! No one believes me when I saw that we used to have one there! BUT WE DID. In the 80s!

Honestly, the new-for-2023 Boardwalk area is the BEST part of Cedar Point IMO. I could spend all day here – and we almost did.

I love that they play lots of beach-y music in this section too! Like a lot of good 80s jams and some surf rock too. It’s a real magical spot and made me less hateful every time we were in the area.

Then we left the park for a bit and walked along the beach trail which is something I always wanted to do!!

Blankets of fog rolled in pretty consistently all day and obscured the tops of lots of rides, like Windseeker here (you will never catch me on these types of swings btw. NO THANK YOU.)

More beer! I couldn’t finish even half of this. It was just a Summer Shandy which I can handle (it was the first ‘beer’ I was able to fully drink thanks to the recommendation from one of my ex-bosses so I always think of her when I drink these which isn’t often) but I already had half of that other beer earlier and I just CANNOT drink that much. Still, it was fun sitting in this little cabana thing and watching all the crazy-asses playing on the beach when it was only about 60 degrees out.

Ugh.

The only other notable thing that happened was in line for Gatekeeper. It was close to an hour long wait, which, whatever, but what makes these waits even worse than they already are is when you have people wantonly linejumping, no shits to give, complete lack of self-consciousness. I could never in a million years imagine myself doing this.

Anyway, three kids – maybe 15 or 16? maybe younger? – were frantically summoning their friend SAM over to them. Of course these kids were several groups ahead of us so this affected me directly when SAM finally caved to peer pressure and cut under some empty switchbacks to join them, skipping over about 30 people in the process without most of them even noticing. I glared at all 4 of them for some time and they knew I was glaring so they purposely averted their gaze until I eventually lost interested.

Then a little while later, the boy who I imagine was the RINGLEADER left the line. I thought he found another group of friends further up where the line splits into two and you have to choose which side of the station you want to be on. He legit ducked under the queue rail and walked THROUGH THE LANDSCAPING toward that part of the line and I was like “WOW HE REALLY JUST SHAVED OFF ABOUT 45 MINUTES OF HIS WAIT TIME” and I was pretty pissed at the entitlement.

Well, it turned out he had actually left the line to go to the bathroom because he eventually came back and rejoined his friends. However, some total Karen busted him and started yelling about how she was going to call security (at first I thought she said his supervisor and I was like how does she know who is supervisor is, is this kid even old enough to have a job) and that SHE IS SICK OF IT. I made eye contact with her and said, “Yeah.” Then I started laughing because she looked the part FOR SURE but also looked like if one of my old bosses was on the verge of heat stroke (the one who first told me about Leinenkugel’s’ Summer Shandy way back in 2010 actually!) and this checks out because I could totally picture her calling security while in line for a roller coaster.

So then the kids got REALLY PARANOID and were like, nervously chuckling amongst each other but you could see the fear in their eyes.

20 or so minutes later, we had finally made it to the aforementioned “split” in the line. This is also where the Fast Lane merges with the regular lane, so there is always a line attendant there. Two young men in SECURITY attire came up the Fast Lane, said some words to the line attendant, right when THE KIDS were the next in line to continue on once the Fast Lane people were let through. The way these kids looked like they were shitting themselves was hilarious! But then security walked past them and  ventured into the bowels of the line, so I didn’t think anything of it.

Approx. 2 minutes later, we were now standing on the steps that lead up the station, the group of kids still ahead of us, when the security guys came BACK and summoned them out of the line! They must have found Heat Stroke Karen and I’m SURE she had a picture of the kids to show security in complete the full NARC circle.

So, the kids got pulled out line and they were all like, “he had to go to the bathroom!” and in the end, security made the bathroom kid leave the line but let the OTHER THREE BACK IN when SAM IS THE ONE WHO ACTUALLY LINE-JUMPED?!!? I felt fully invested in this since I had been in line with these dumbasses the whole time and actually, I can’t believe I’m saying this, FELT BAD for the kid who got ratted on because yes he fucking cut but he truly WAS in line from the beginning.

And also, WOW those three are shitty friends especially SAM the TRUE line jumper.

So that was something. Six Flags Great Adventure is the only other park where I actually saw people get called out by line attendants and thrown out of line. (Green Lantern specifically – there was a guy standing in the station watching the queue below and he would call linejumpers out over the speaker. It was amazing. I would BE SO GOOD AT THAT JOB!!)

Anyway, Henry and I got in line for Maverick at 7:30, 30 minutes before the park closed. OF FUCKING COURSE it broke down while we were in line, but while we were in it, we saw security escorting out a dad and his kid and then right after that, we came around a switchback and I saw HEAT STROKE KAREN – coincidence?!?!

Also, the kids from the Gatekeeper were in this line with us and HSK, which made me feel nostalgic in some weird way?! Then a bunch of grown-ass adults cut the whole entire line in order to join the rest of their family in front of us and I was so pissed. I think it actually is worse when ADULTS do this. Kids are fucking stupid and it’s not an excuse but their brains are underdeveloped and whatever, who cares, kids suck. But when you see FUCKING ADULTS doing this, like they are so goddamned entitled, it makes me more mad. I started mouthing off about them to Henry and they knew I was talking about them so they all avoided eye contact with me but unlike HSK, I’m not about to cause a scene because I have seen enough videos of actual brawls erupting over shit like this and I’m not trying to get a tooth knocked – or worse, being an unwitting star of a viral TikTok video where I guarantee I will look like the BAD GUY / KAREN, so like 99% of line-standers, I dealt with it.

Then Chooch texted because it was after 8 and the park was technically closed so he and his friends were waiting outside of the entrance for us. Henry and I left the line WITH PLEASURE. Maverick is actually so damn frustrating. Of all the times we’ve been to Cedar Point I think I have only ridden it twice. It breaks down constantly and just perpetually has a ridiculous line.

The day was super frustrating but how mad can you be when the park has views like this??

Afterward, we checked into that same weird-ass motel thing that we stayed at two years ago and then went to Dianna’s for a late dinner and dessert! I love this fucking crazy family restaurant. Part of the neon sign outside the door was broken and zapping perilously, so that was scary.

We walked inside and Ben breathed it in and said, “This is America.”

We sat at separate tables – Chooch and his friends got the same waitress we had the last time (I would never forget her!) and Henry and I had a waitress with a face tattoo. There was an old couple sitting across from us that were talking some straight nonsense – I guess the lady part of the couple works at Cedar Point because she was wearing an employee sweatshirt. She looked like if my coaster friend Pam was about 20 years older with a gray mullet.

A very interesting end to a strange day at Cedar Point. Oh and did I mention that Sandusky was in the throes of a mayfly infestation? It was so bad that the outside patio of the Grand Pavilion cafe in the boardwalk area was closed off because the tables were COVERED in them, literally like they were wearing tarps made of mayflies. It was so gross. This was definitely one of the worst days I’ve ever had at the park.

 

May 242024
 

Hi. This is the final portion of our Easter day in Korea, which had us leaving Mullae, going back to the hotel for a quick reprieve, and then venturing back out to Hongdae. The plan was to go to Thanks Nature, a cafe that we went to in 2019 that draws you in with their pet sheep and keeps you in your seat with their awesome dessert menu. We had jinjja jinjja delicious melon bingsu on our last visit and Henry was craving it.

Hongdae is such a vibe at night.

First though, we stopped by Isaac Toast to get a small and quick dinner since we had eaten so much many pastries etc. all freaking day. Henry and I shared an egg/potato toast but I instantly regretted not getting a whole one to myself once I remembered how much I love these bitchin’ sandwiches. It’s the sauce, man. Some kind of sweet mustard, I don’t even know, but it just hits the spot and you know that must be true because that is not something I would ever typically in real life?! Same as “hankering,” as in, “I had a hankering for Isaac Toast.” I dunno why that gets under my skin like when someone says they’re “fixin'” to do something? I’m fixin’ to have a hankering for something that hits the spot.

For supper.

To really drive the nail under my skin! I hate word supper! You can say moist all day but supper is the one that launches me through the ceiling.

Probably doesn’t help that my ex-boyfriend Jeff used to say it. Ugh he was such a rural dork.

Isaac’s got him in a trance.

Ugh and then Thanks Nature was closed! It closed early that night :( So then we just walked around Hongdae while Chooch went in and out of various street clothes shops, trying things on and then not buying anything.

Gentle Monster!!! I immediately found a pair of sunglasses that I liked but hemmed and hawed and then ultimately decided I’d wait unti the next day when we went to the flagship store in Gangnam.

We ended up stopping in some small mall-esque thing on the main street of Hongdae. There was a clothing store called Wonderplace and I know for sure I was pouting at this point because I didn’t eat enough real food and was having a sugar crash and also I wanted something hot to drink, but more specifically, reality was setting in that we only had one full day left in Korea and I was low-key panicking, friends. I hate that I acted like a fucking asshole for an entire hour that evening but the emotions. I had them.

Anyway, there were all kinds of sales going on so every time Henry went up to the pay, the cashier would be like, “This is 1+1 so please find another thing from these special racks” and it was stressful – I got a sweater that I love a lot and it fits me so comfortably, and Chooch got more sweatpants I think, a t-shirt and purple Ocean Pacific shorts?! Really random.

Henry apparently made friends with the cashier since he had to go back up there 3x, and on one of his trips up there the guy asked Henry if he was there on vacation. When Henry said, “Yes, this is our third time here,” he said the kid said, “I hate Korea.” Wow, lol. I wonder if he was there studying abroad? Henry said he was Korean but his English seemed better than his Korean. I wish I had witnessed this alleged interaction.

After that, we walked through “Yongtral Park” to Holly’s Coffee. Holly’s is a Korea chain but it was open past 10PM and I needed warm liquids, you guys. It was a chilly March eve!

And this is how I ended up having my first (and so far – only) mugwort latte. Holy shit. Did this replace matcha in my heart? It may have. This had such a wonderful, earthy flavor – o b s e s s e d.

Just like I am with everything else in Korea. :/

We also got some type of banana dessert to share. Delicious. Korean cafes – chains or not – rarely disappoint.

Well, that’s a wrap for Sunday March 31st,  I guess. I can’t drag this out any longer. It’s time to start editing the pictures from our last full day. Le sigh.

Here’s a video recap of the day!

May 232024
 

Literally no one cares but I was so excited about going to Mullae!! It’s a neighborhood of Seoul that, DARE I SAY, is a hidden gem. This isn’t something that I ever see listed on your standard “Top Things to Do in Seoul” itinerary lists and I only knew about it from the local vloggers that I watch on YouTube. It wasn’t on my radar AT ALL the first two times we were in Korea and I was stoked to explore a new-to-us area, especially because it’s supposed to be super artsy and industrial, being one of the least gentrified areas and still rife with various factories for metal and textiles, and one street has so many of the metal ones that it’s known as “Steel Factory Street” and as someone who was born and raised in Pittsburgh a/k/a The Steel City, I had to go here. Hometown pride? Eh. Hometown something.

There was a Starbucks right outside of the subway exit and Chooch was being a big baby about wanting, nay – NEEDING, to try some dumb thing that they had that I can’t even remember because I really can’t stand Starbucks, although I HAD to go to Starbucks, I would choose a Korean location all day every day.

Anyway, a big part of Mullae’s charm is its maze of alleys so we immediately ducked off the main drag and started to explore.

One of the gallery streets. The Artfield Gallery had lots of art that I wanted to buy but my bank account was in my ear, laughing, “Yeah you wish, sucker.” The artist whose work was on display while we were there is 조수정.

Obsessed.

Mullae has the best murals! I already posted this in real time from that day, but oh well mothercheffers. Cook on.

Shout out to Fårup!

This just in: Chooch verified that he ordered the choux cream latte at Starbucks.

Rust was recommended on every single Mullae vlog I watched prior to this trip. It was P A C K E D.

The process of choosing your treats and ordering drinks wasn’t too bad but it was the dreaded SEAT FINDING PORTION of the cafe visit that gave us anxiety. This place was multi-level and Chooch and I roamed around aimlessly looking for open seats. I bet this place is amazing on a quiet day because there were some really cozy nooks upstairs! Sadly, all taken.

We eventually found seats on the rooftop deck and that was fine by me because it was a beautiful day and it was quiet out there.

As you can see, we had to try their salt bread (it was good but you know, we have tasted the salt bread that was baked in Heaven’s oven and brushed with butter browned by Jesus Christ himself (I dunno what browned butter is or even if it is used on these but I just wanted you to know that I have heard of it and that’s only because Wendi mentioned it in regard to baking cookies one time in group chat at work and I quickly googled “the fuck is browning the butter.”) and then put on GOD’S MENU.

But yeah Jane, I’m not kidding – I am like skibidi* obsessed with these to the point that if we ever make it back to Korea, I am going to go straight there before the hotel after leaving Incheon.

*(I asked Chooch to help me learn how to use this and he said that I don’t need to ever use this because it’s not a word, it’s brain rot, and only elementary school kids use it and when I say that made me want to add it to my vernacular even more….)

Chooch really wanted that thing with the chives on it because it was the seasonal special, some green onion savory croissant thing, but a girl in front of him swooped in and took the last three from the case. He was crying about it in that bitch-boi way of his, but there was an entire cooling rack of them behind the counter so Henry asked the cashier if she could get one for him, and it was a whole thing because she had to first go out to the floor and check for herself that the case was empty, like Henry was trying to scam her into giving him the FRESHEST ONE. I mean, he does look like an entitled douche.

Anyway, all of that and then Chooch didn’t even like it.

My latte was GUD.

fire sex tech zzz, duh. That’s going to be my skibidi.

That was a really nice hang, even though Henry was with us.

And just when you thought we had enough drinks…I remembered that my new friend from our Seoul office – Tomie – had recommended a place that SONG MINO has visited, so I had it on my MUST DO list.

(And then promptly forgot – almost.)

Henry and Chooch were whining about not being able to drink anymore, but I refused to hear it. Cafe culture is a huge part of Seoul! And we were IN SEOUL. So…skibidi dibidi cafe hoppity.

Except that we couldn’t find the damn place. We’re not n00bs to Korea so we use Naver maps like we’re real, verified locals, but the block that it took us to was not it, fam.  There was a Mexican restaurant, a few other storefronts, a sketchy-ass stairwell.

“Maybe it’s down the steps,” Chooch shrugged. I walked closer and peeked into the doorway. It looked like it descended into a dank parking garage. Nope, not doing it.

So then I went back to the map that Tomie made me and clicked on the Naver page for the cafe.

“It says it’s open, and that it should be,” I glanced up from my phone, “RIGHT HERE.”

Henry was already starting to retreat, like, “Oh darn, one less cafe, boo hoo, let’s go get real food plz.” But then I started looking through the customer pictures on Naver and some PRECIOUS SWEETHEART posted a picture of the STAIRWELL and drew arrows to it.

“Chooch, I think you were right,” I whispered, and we tentatively tiptoed down the steps in case we were about to interrupt a scene from Saw Part 187.

Also from Naver:

And then at the bottom and to the left, we saw this ^^^!!

It led us into a small corridor and we could hear bass emanating from the other side of a door. However, it felt way too VIP. Were we too square to be here?! I was so nervous when opening the door, expecting a roomful of super edgy Koreans looking like they stepped off of a street fashion Instagram page to whip their heads around and glare at us.

Also from Naver:

But instead, we were greeted by a REALLY KIND AND COOL barista – he apologized for not having an English menu and asked if we could speak Korean – I said “a little” in Korean and it was actually OK because reading menus is what I excel at in Korea, lol. But then another barista came over and assisted as well even though I told Henry what it said – he had no faith in me.

I can see why Song Mino likes it here!

Loud hip hop was playing and it was a whole vibe. So dank and basement-y, it reminded me of this hidden bar / after hours club that this dude Freddy (Fredrick von Hamilton from Vampire Nation lol) took me to in the early 2000s, pre-Henry where even then, when I was way cooler than I am now, I felt like I was in over my head, lol.

LOL now I’m dying, thinking back to those days. HOW DID I EVEN MEET THIS GUY?? I remember going back to his apartment on the South Side (it was a really cool spot) and turning down his advances and how lucky I am that he was a nice (enough) guy to let it go. Jesus.

skibidi.

Our dranks!

Chooch, thinking my every action is so annoying and an embarrassment.

Anyway, it was a really – and I mean REALLY – cool time. I loved sitting there, listening to the music, drinking my good-ass ah-ah (iced Americano for you non-Koreans), and thinking about how Song Mino was once where I now was.

Life is so cool sometimes.

When we left, we had just made it out of the little corridor and back into the creepy garage when the first barista came running out after us. He wanted to give us stickers!!! I legit almost cried, I thought it was so nice and cool of him! Anyway, I started following the cafe on IG and they followed me back and liked a bunch of my photos from the trip!

What a great rec, I thanked Tomie profusely for that on KakaoTalk later.

We started to make our way back to the subway after this, totally jittery and in need of real food.

On the way, I spotted a little alley with some tables of jewelry set up. I immediately veered off to get a closer look and could sense Henry mouthing FML to the skies. While I was looking, a man came out of a nearby art studio and asked if he could help me. YUP, I wanted to buy all of the rings I saw! But instead, I chose two:

Fucking obsessed. The one on the left says, “My mom says I can’t play with you” – I was proud of myself for translating it on my own, and the guy was kind of struggling to explain the meaning. He said it’s a Korean joke and I was like, “OK great, I’ll take it!” Because regardless of the full joke getting lost in translation, that is definitely something snotty I used to say to other kids when I was trying to be a dick back in the day.

Trying to be?” I can hear Future Henry saying out loud if he ever reads this.

But yeah, I cherish these rings, and they were handmade in the studio where I paid for them! I regERT not buying more.

And, that was Mullae. We only just got our toes wet on this quick little jaunt. If I ever make it back there, it will definitely be on the list of unskippable neighborhoods, right up there with Hongdae, Insadong, Ikseondong, and Jongno. There were a lot of brewery-type places there so maybe that will entice Henry to go back, because I can’t be certain he was sold on this neighborhood (too hipster for him probs) but he did agree that Geukrak was a really great cafe. So there’s that!

Oh, and he bought more salt bread from a bakery in the subway station as we were leaving, lol. Always room for salt bread.

I know you’re like, “Come on, this has to be the last post for Easter Sunday, right?” WRONG. We still have one more before we get to the saddest posts of this whole series: The Last Day Posts. :(

May 212024
 

…and not the kinds of dongs that you will find in the Cedar Point parking lot.

After a long and leisurely morning strolling palace grounds, we unanimously agreed with whole hearts that it was:

SALT.

BREAD.

TIME.

Back to Ikseondong!

Frfr, if you’re in Seoul, ya gotta get to this spot and grab a bag(sssss) of motherfucking salt bread. My mouth is filling up faster than Tammy Faye’s eyeballs, you hear. The mere THOUGHT of the salt bread has my mouth WEEPING.

PLEASE ignore my trash nails. I was too busy running around Korea to worry about painting them. (Although I think I did that night?!)

Jayeondo Salt Bread, you are 100% worth the hype. Listen to the salty, crumby cries of the people – this is THE place to get your sogum bbang on. I wish I could several bags delivered to me right now.

Still having (some) room left in our stomachs, we hit up the nearby Cheese Industry, having ogled the goods a few days earlier. I didn’t want to leave Korea without getting something from here, so Henry and I shared a honey brown pastry – some sort of delicious, sweet cheese thing slightly reminiscent of baklava and dotted with hazelnuts. I could easily have housed this whole thing on my own, but whatever. We were going to get lunch soon plus do more cafe hopping later so I didn’t want to ruin myself so early in the day. All I can say is THANK GOD for all the walking we did, else I’d have had to buy all new pants when we came home.

SHEESH.

They make their own cheese in-house! And even a selection of their drinks are infused with cheese! I opted for just an iced Americano though because I do have limits. But! I have had drinks with cheese foam / cheese caps from Asian cafes in the States and can confirm that it is the good kind of unusual taste. Ugh, I hope this place is still there the next time I go to Korea!!

Also, I’m wearing my necklace from Gyeongju in this picture! I love that necklace and I loved that man that owned the gift shop where I bought it! AND I LOVE GYEONGJU.

LOL Chooch with his ring that he made with us in Hongdae that served as a fidget spinner for the rest of the trip.

After this, we did some perusing in the shops. I bought a scarf that I am considering using as a background for our dumb marriage license once we finally get it framed, and then there was this adorable collegiate-esque cardigan that I had my eyes on the first time we walked through Ikseondong. It says MILK on it and I love clothes like that because my aesthetic is very niche.

Anyway, I almost didn’t buy it! I don’t know why I get like this, like I get preventive buyer’s remorse just by touching something on a rack and then I start pouting even though no one told me I couldn’t buy it?? But when the salesperson asked me if I wanted to try it on, I said NO for some idiotic reason and then not 1 minute later, some older woman strutted in, tried it on and immediately bought it, walked right out still wearing it.

Henry looked at me and frowned. It was the only one on the rack. :(

But that gave me the IF IT WAS MEANT TO BE….kick in the ass that I needed so I marched over to the salesperson and asked if they had any more. Of-fucking-course they did, come on. She pulled another one, still wrapped in plastic, out of a box and held it out to me, nodding for me to try it the fuck on already.

So I did.

And then I handed over some cash and walked out happy.

NO REGERTZ.

After Ikseondong, we walked to the neighboring Insadong because this is where lunch was happening. But first, family caricature time at Acorn! There are numerous locations around Seoul (maybe outside of Seoul too? I feel like I saw one in Jeonju…) and this one is unique because they specialize in fast drawings. I think 1 or 2 minutes per subject? And you can even show them a picture of your pet on your phone and they will draw from that too!

Chooch was NOT happy to do this and kept hoping that I would forget.

I wish I looked that cute IRL!! And I love how she captured Henry’s downtrodden essence. He looks beat down, which is accurate having spent so much unrelenting time with me and Chooch. :)

Back in one of the alleys of Insadong is yet another vegetarian restaurant called Osegeahyang. This one is pretty well-established, I think. When you walk in, there’s a wall of famous vegetarian/vegans and I dunno why but the formality of WILIAM BRADLEY PITT cracked us up so Chooch was inspired to take a picture.

That says “American actor” under his name.

Yo, we feasted here. It had a really decent crowd, a mix of locals and foreigners, so that’s always a great sign! The Happy Cow website tells me that this is one of the first vegetarian restaurants in Seoul (and by that they probably mean non-temple food restaurant I bet).

I had been craving jjajangmyeon, but that dish traditionally has PORK in it (lol I initially type PORN I guess because of all the DONGS) so when I saw that this place had it, my eyes became blind to the rest of the menu. I only had eyes for you, jjajangmyeon.

Henry got tonkatsu and I have no idea what Chooch got, some Chinese ‘chicken’ dish? And a plate of Korean fried ‘chicken’ for the table.

(Henry’s tonkatsu was REALLY good, btw, and I had slight ordering remorse but my jjajangmyeon really was just what I needed.)

I got a fried “egg” on the side. This picture is so trash – I must have been in a hurry to start eating.

Just looking at this is making me so hungry and I literally just ate dinner. Henry, make me pork-less jjajangmyeon this weekend, wah.

Dude, this was a really great first half of the day! I had fun reliving it just now. :(

May 202024
 

Hi I’m over here feeling sorry for myself and panicking about how Chooch is about to be a high school graduate and college freshman and OMG apparently he posted a story today on IG and Henry can see it but I can’t!!?!?! And now he’s denying that I’m not filtered out of his inner circle?!?!

Anyway as I was saying, some of these photos came up in my ON THIS DAY memories and I felt inspired to reshare the blog post from May 2017 because this was still when he was sort of letting me style him for photoshoots and apparently he even let me interview for this one. Ow. Owowowowowowowow. He better let me do one more of these before he leaves my nestttttttttttt.

Well, I might do this several more times from now until the end of my days so bear with me or x out or something, it’s fine. *ANGUISH*

**********************

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Oh hey, today I woke up and decided that I wanted to boss around Henry and Chooch some, and the best way I know to do that is to find some schmancy get-up to stuff Chooch in and then yell at Henry to hand me whatever lens I need. I DON’T KNOW THEIR NAMES. I AM A FAKE PHOTOGRAPHER.

We went to Buttermilk Falls, which was the location of the picnic we had once in celebration of me not dying on a carnival ride in 2013. (I just made the sign of the cross, because I’m religious when I feel like it.) Instead of just dumping these so-so pictures here, I thought it would be fun to ask Chooch some questions about his life currently.

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Me: I’m going to ask you some questions now. Isn’t this fun?

Chooch: *heavy sigh*

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Me: What’s your favorite thing about 5th grade?

Chooch: I don’t know. Why do you make me do this.

Me: Was the grilled cheese Wesley’s mom made you better than my grilled cheeses?

Chooch: You don’t even make grilled cheese…..do you?

Me: No…

Chooch: Exactly.

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Me: What is your current favorite Kpop song?

Chooch: Ugh. No. Um, “Signal” I guess?

Me: What is your current favorite food?

Chooch: Veggie burger.

Me: Talk about being a vegetarian.

Chooch: It’s amazing.

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Me: What is your favorite TV show?

Chooch: Um, hard to say. I have a lot that I watch on Netflix.

Me: Well, just recommend three of them.

Chooch: They’re all kids shows! No one cares!

Me: UGH FORGET IT. NEXT QUESTION.

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Me: What was it like to crowd-surf at the Emarosa show?

Chooch: Spooky, and scary…skeletons.

Me: You’re wearing a Cardboard Swords shirt in these pictures. Would you recommend them to people?

Chooch: Sure. You recommend every band you like to people, so why not.

(I think what he means is that I shove my music faves in everyone’s face constantly.)

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Me: Talk about Spencer.

Chooch, in his weird Corgi Mania voice: Spencer!! *throaty giggles* Spencer’s awesome! Spencer’s a Corgi! No, not a Corgi. An amazing Corgi. A Corgi who walks past my house everyday and I pet him and he loves me!

(Chooch honestly gets delirious in Spencer’s presence. He was excited yesterday because now Spencer rolls over when he sees him and I was like “Yeah probably so you’ll think he’s dead and leave him alone!”)

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Me: Why do you reject Korean food?

Chooch: Because YOU like it.

(Oh that little fucker better wait. His birthday cake next year is going to be one giant chapssal-tteok.)

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Me: Why don’t you have a hand in this picture?

Chooch: I went to a bar and someone stabbed it off of me.

Me: Any big plans for when Grandma Judy watches you alllllll summer long? Family Feud marathons? Go Fish for money?

Chooch: I’ll be going to Wesley’s all day.

Me: What if Wesley goes to camp?

Chooch: Well then I go to camp.

(WHAT IS SO FUCKING GREAT ABOUT WESLEY.)

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Me: If you started a band, what would you call it?

Chooch: The Bambi Penises.

(He’s been calling Drew “Bambi” lately, and we call Penelope “Penis” sometimes, so there’s that.)

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Me: what’s so great about those dumb spinners that every kid has suddenly?

Chooch: They come in a whole bunch of different varieties!

Me: Wow. Riveting. DONT YOU KNOW YOU CAN DIE FROM THOSE.

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Me: If you were a tour guide in Pittsburgh, where would you take your tourists?

Chooch: Spencer’s house. *erupts in giggles.

Me: *MEGA EYE ROLL*

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Me: Do you think the Penguins will win the Stanley Cup?

Chooch, with that cheery monotone enthusiasm of Today’s Youth: Yeah. Hopefully.

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Me, bothering Chooch while he’s trying to concentrate on some adult connect the dots book he got today, and not “adult” as in connect the STDs to each porn star, but as in each page has hundreds of numbers: Quick do a haiku.

Chooch: Bambi is special / Peen Lop never gives a crap / She needs more friends quick.

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Me: If you could be penpals with any celebrity in the world, who would it be?

Chooch: Dan & Phil.

Me: That’s two people, and they’re not even celebrities, they’re lame YouTubers.

Chooch: They live in the same place! Fine, just Dan.

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Me: Do you want to go watch Running Man with me.

Chooch: NO.

May 192024
 

Saw this in the parking lot on the way in today and screamed “WHAT IS THAT?? Oh I thought it was a sweet potato” like I was so relieved to find out that someone hadn’t discarded a perfectly good tuber.

Happy Sunday from Sandusky!

UPDATE: leaving the park now and can confirm that the Cedar Park dildo is still in the lot:

Sleep well knowing this my friends.

May 172024
 

Hi real quick here are five of my favorite things that have happened so far in May that I would like to not forget.

  1. I GOT A TICKET TO SEE NCT DREAM IN SEPTEMBER!!

This happened today. I tried to stay calm during the ticket-procuring process because I can’t handle much more stress currently – I know my threshold, and I kept saying, “You know, I saw them last year and I had a good seat so it doesn’t matter this time – just as long as I’m there.” And then it was “my turn” (fuck you, TicketMaster) to look for a ticket and I grabbed the first one that was not on the floor but decent and then that was it. No screaming in anger, no panicking. Just quietly added to the cart and purchased while Henry stood behind me and chanting, “Calm down, calm down” which – OK? I am? YOU CALM DOWN?

And then I started crying about 30 minutes later, a delayed reaction, and woke Henry up from his nap, wailing, “I’M JUST SO HAPPY THAT I GET TO SEE THEM AGAIN!” He looked alarmed, but it’s fine. I’m fine.

2. A $5 Brulee’d Ruby Red

Um, this was not worth it, but the rest of the brunch at 40North with my pals Megan, Debby, and Mar made up for it! (Don’t worry, that’s not all I got – I actually got one of the best omelets I’ve ever had, and now I know that next time I should forgo the “healthy” option and just get the smashed potatoes*.)

*(Which btw come with chimichurri which is how Marlene came to find out exactly what chimichurri is and while Debby was explaining it to her, Marlene interrupted to say, “Ok tell them I don’t need any of that.”)

We had the same server that Lindsey and I had when we met here last year who was, from what I remember, a chronic whisperer but I’m happy to report that he spoke much louder this time, upped the volume. Actually, all of the staff there was pretty freaking great and memorable even though we completely overstayed our welcome – we got nary a side-eye.

Anyway, that was last Saturday, and then the Sunday before that….

3. I Had Beers with My Sister!

I know it seems like I’m not doing anything but curling up in the fetal position in a dark corner, crying about Korea, and OK that is largely my life now. I admit it. But I have been getting out and socializing here and there too, lol.

Amy wanted to try Strange Roots in Millvale and I who knows nothing about breweries said YES LET’S DO THAT. I think it’s safe to say that I am still mid-at-best when it comes to liking beer, but it was still an excellent afternoon with Amy and Dick and fine, even Henry. We always have the best convo with Amy and Dick when we get together and I always leave there saying, “We need to do this more than just once or twice a year.” I mean, we do live a little over an hour away from each other but that’s no excuse. I grew up with such a small family and the fact that I was given the chance to have a relationship with a sister that I didn’t meet until I was an adult is actually a pretty big deal. (Especially since we like each other, even!)

I had a wheat beer which was ok, and then I got a “slamgria” which was 100% MY STYLE. I guess because, you know, it wasn’t beer. But shit, I could have sat around all afternoon slamming these OMG IS THAT WHY THEY’RE CALLED SLAMGRIAS??

I sat here for a solid three minutes wondering to myself what the fuck that Teletubby-shaped thing is at the bottom of this picture and then I realized it was the hand sanitizer that I had with me that day – the kind that is encased in the rubber carrier thing, lol.

Oh! I also want to give a shoutout to whoever at Strange Roots played an entire Neutral Milk Hotel album while we there, transporting me back to high school so fast I almost got whiplash. <3

4. This Stray Kids Song That I Want to Curl Up Inside and Live In Forever

First of all, I truly love Charlie Puth’s music don’t @ me, and second of all I IMPRINTED ON HAN JISUNG ALL OVER AGAIN WITH THIS ONE. SKZ just announced a world tour too, dates TBA, so I am going to be in Kpop debt this year. (Because Seventeen too I think!?!?) I think if I ever don’t get completely consumed by music, that’s when you know that I’m officially dead inside because I’m almost 45 and music is still the one thing that never fails to make me feel like my full, complete self. Kpop especially really changed my life for the better though. <3

5. HNC Has a Friend!

The other day I was dying because HNC had a friend over and I was crawling on the floor, trying to get a covert picture through the dining room window without being seen. I’m not posting it here because I’m wildly paranoid about everything these days, but this guy had some type of modified ginger mullet – it was straight and flowed like a river of Schlitz to his shoulders. He was wearing bitchin’ Lennon shades and a fitted t-shirt and jeans, looking like he could be in Bread or Ambrosia or some other food-named 70s band.

I woke Henry up from his nap, totally giddy, and asked him if he was jealous. He said NO and I said, “Wow, not even that HNC invited him to his CAMP??”

Henry just frowned, which means I was right – he’s jel.


OK, I’m going now.

 

May 162024
 

Sunday morning was school picture day! Honestly, one of the non-negotiable things on my itinerary was getting some nice snaps of our high school senior with the “good camera.” You can see those portraits here! I’m pretty sure I mentioned this in the post with Chooch’s portraits, but if you want to get some nice shots with a palatial background sans clusters of undulating tourists, skip the most popular palace (Gyeongbokgung is a must-see but it is the most famous of all the main palaces in Seoul and it gets packed) and check out Changgyeonggung Palace instead. You are still going to get that signature Joseon Dynasty architecture, the serene nature, and the feeling of stepping back into another time – just without as many people!

We arrived minutes before the ticket booth opened and were among the first people to go inside. Literally no one around! It was really nice to just have a slow morning walking around the grounds, looking at nature-y things, and actually not fighting now that I think about it?! Even though PICTURES were involved!

Hahaha I hate myself, honestly but this is the best depiction of how I was feeling and I can tell you that right now I am feeling the exact opposite, like instead of jumping for joy, I am crumbling from depression. It’s fine. I’ll be fine. Henry keeps giving me gentle reminders that we will be back and even though I cry, “YEAH RIGHT YOU DON’T KNOW THAT!” every time, at least I know he is willing to go back??

We had been there for about fifteen minutes and no one had come into this courtyard yet! They were all still right inside the gate taking pictures of the blossoms, lol.

LOL I married that guy. Wow.

Seriously. Korea. You’re my one true love.

Chooch didn’t mention that our faces were obscured by shadows BUT OK.

Ahhh OMG you guys, then we finally saw our first Korean squirrel!! I wasn’t squirrel’bsessed in 2018 and 2019 when we were there so maybe we saw some then and I just don’t remember, but this time I was ON THE HUNT. I mean, not actually THE HUNT because I’m a vegetarian and would never harm an animal or even most bugs – I shed real tears last night when I thought that I actually dumped my ant friend who had been hanging out on my work desk down the drain because when I poured out the dregs of my coffee cup, it looked like an ant fell out with it but maybe it was just a coffee ground?!!? Regardless, I had a quiet moment where I stood and looked solemnly out the front door, thinking about how for the last two days I had gently moved him away from my keyboard so he wouldn’t get smashed, complained about my job to him, asked him when he thought the mailman was going to come. We really spent a lot of quality time together and I haven’t seen him since, is what I’m trying to tell you. Anyway, when I turned away from the door, Henry was sitting on the couch and I blurted out I HAVE TO TELL YOU SOMETHING and then I started crying but also laughing because I was near-hysteria and he was so scared, like bracing himself, and then I blurted out in a high-pitched wail, “THERE WAS AN ANT THAT I BECAME FRIENDS WITH THE OTHER DAY ON MY DESK AND I THINK I ACCIDENTALLY DROWNED HIM IN THE SINK” and of course Henry the Heartless was like, “How do you know it was the same one?”

Fuck off, Henry.

It cost W2,000 for the three of us – Chooch was free. That’s less than $1!!!! There is no reason to NOT come into any and all of these palaces if you’re in Seoul.

We also went into a beautiful greenhouse that was on the grounds. Here’s pictures that Chooch took of some palace cats that were lounging around in there like the royalty that they are:

More pictures that Chooch took because I just remembered he made a shared album! (Most of his pictures are dumb inside jokes with his friends though, so – worthless to me.)

I swear to god you can always see Namsan Tower in the background, and it’s so comforting, like seeing an old friend.

That last picture is MINE, thank you.

And this was just the start of our day!

May 152024
 

If I was making an itinerary for someone visiting Seoul, I would 100% include a walk along the Seoul City Wall, starting in Dongdaemun. Henry will roll his eyes, but before our first trip to Korea, I used to watch Joan Kim’s “Joan Day” YouTube channel. She vlogged every single day for a year (maybe 2 actually) and I owe so much to her videos because it gave us “insider tips” into the best neighborhoods, shops, cafes, etc. It’s how I learned about Gentle Monster, Ader Error, Mil Toast, Onion…

But what I also am so thankful for is her one vlog where she was taking some visiting friends around Seoul and how she stressed that some of the best views of Seoul could be found at Naksan Park at sunset, accessed either through the Ihwa Mural Village or by hiking alongside the Seoul Fortress Wall in Dongdaemun.

We did this in 2018, opting to go through the mural village. It was spectacular. Even Henry couldn’t deny it.

This time, we decided to go up the other way, by following the wall. It’s a lot of Up Hill. Many Steep. But so worth it. We got a later start than I had anticipated, but it ended up being in our favor because GODDAMN that night view, those city lights, the absolute bonkers vibe of that area at night. The couples on dates. The families. The dogs! It wasn’t crowded at all, the weather was perfect, we were all in a good mood. I loved this night a lot, is what I’m trying to say. Let’s look at piccccccs.

You can see that there’s a pretty nice trail, you’re not like, scaling a mountain or anything. It’s not that kind of hike. I mean, I did this in slip-on Vans. And look at all the benches! There are plenty of rest areas along the way. You can do this!

See? Just a Broad and Her Vans (Slip-Ons).

I kept turning around to take more pictures, as if the view was going to have drastically changed. You can see the DDP down there! And Heunginjimun Gate!

Through one of the wall openings.

Chooch literally Pokemon Go’d all through Seoul. Also, those are the sweatpants he bought in Namdaemun Market and had regertz for not buying more.

WHAT IF THIS IS ONE OF THE LAST SELFIES CHOOCH AND I EVER TAKE TOGETHER IN KOREA??? :(

Chooch, hurry up and graduate and get rich and then buy me a house here.

My eyes are so awful and I couldn’t tell that portrait mode was taking some really mid shots. But I just loved how the farther up we walked, the more little neighborhoods started popping up. The alleys were breakneck steep. I think that’s what I was trying to capture here. Well, ya FAILED, hon.

This was from one of the first overlooks we came upon. There was a small walking tour happening too and I was trying to snoop but then then guide namedropped BTS and I lost interest.

Ew, Henry took this, lol.

That Hollywood-esque sign down there says Naksan Park. YES I CAN READ HANGEUL BACKWARDS, I AM THE BEST.

Here you can see the fortress wall as it goes back down the other side.

Asking Chooch to take our picture is so scary. I had to delete a series of ZOOM-INS on Henry’s face once we got back to the hotel.

Henry took these with his idiot phone and thought he was so cool. I’m only including them because it was an actual miracle that he was taking pictures at all.

If you follow the other side of the wall down to the bottom of the mountain, it spills you out into I guess what it is Ihwa-dong. This area is kind of nuts at night because it’s essentially a college campus so there are young people out and about in droves, tons of bars and clubs – let’s just say that even I felt a bit too old being here, lol.

We stopped at a super cool stationary / gift shop though and I bought some fun journals and a pencil pouch which made Henry roll his eyes. Chooch was on a hunt for “a pencil” and bought the plainest one there.

Here are some pictures Chooch took after we came back down into town:  

This ad was in pretty much every subway station, which was fine by me because I love that actor!

Anyway, after this it was BINGSU time so we took the subway back to Dongdaemun and found a Sulbing on the second floor of some random building. It was PACKED and we just barely snagged a table.

Bingsu is one of most favoritest things about Korea! It’s such a fun dessert.

Chooch got strawberry (and was angry when he discovered a hidden center of red bean, lol – Henry and I love red bean but Chooch refuses to let him like it) and Henry and I split a classic injeolmi (soy bean powder – it’s hard to describe but it’s subtly sweet, nutty, and soft).

FML I miss this. Why didn’t we get bingsu every night?!!?

And then I spent a solid 10 minutes trying to record the screen back there because Astro was in the ad and Henry’s ULT BIAS, THE FACE GENIUS CHA EUN WOO, was eating the same bingsu we ordered. The people behind me probably thought I was the biggest fucking Kpopper because I really did spend an absurd amount of time trying to capture this – the first time idiot Henry moved into the shot and took a monstrous spoonful of bingsu into his gaping maw, he looked prehistoric. I think I actually saved that clip, WHICH YOU CAN SEE IF YOU WATCH MY RECAP VIDEO OF THIS WHOLE DAY!!!!!

May 142024
 

In continuing with our unofficial and undeclared vegan tour of Seoul, and after collecting Chooch from the hotel (he bought his own lunch at 7-Eleven that day, he definitely doesn’t need us lol). we went to Cafe Siva for dinner that Saturday evening. This place had popped up several times on various “vegan Seoul” videos I had watched on YouTube and I was especially interested in the “supreme yangnyeom chicken.”

Once we were done taking in the protest that was making its way down the road (we were there during election season and the city was lit up with protests – we even saw one of the candidates at the Seoul Forest subway station, shaking hands with commuters while being filmed for the news), we went inside and I immediately loved the cozy vibe. The colors were so soothing and the space itself just felt very calm and slow. I guess that makes sense because Cafe Siva is apparently affiliated with the yoga studio next door.

I was looking at some reviews on Happy Cow and someone was complaining because they have an electronic ordering kiosk there, and they do, but like…so? We still had interactions with the staff there so it wasn’t like it was completely impersonal, it just greatly reduced the ordering anxiety.

Henry is supposed to be helping me write this but he is currently doing the same thing he’s doing in this picture – WILING AWAY HIS LIFE, MINDLESSLY SCROLLING THROUGH HIS NEWSFEED. I swear to god, talk about someone ADDICTED to his phone. It’s actually disturbing.

Chooch’s drink with the cutie cat stirrer, and Henry in the background not knowing what to do because I probably told him to put his phone away (you know, being a NAG since we are MARRIED now).

YOU GUYS. The owner’s dog was there. A good sign that we were in a safe space.

This dog reminded me of my childhood BFF Wally <3

Chooch’s veggie burger nearly gave me ordering remorse.

Henry can’t remember what he got. “It was….chicken. It was like….some kind of chicken.” If this was something that had come up in his newsfeed, he might remember…Maybe if it was an Instagram reel.

Speaking of IG, now he’s cruising Cafe Siva’s page looking for what he ordered and turns out it was vegan dak-kalbi.

“Did you like it?”

“YEAH!” he exclaimed, in between murmuring, “Wow, I would have got that instead,” at all of the dishes he’s seeing on Instagram that he doesn’t remember being on the menu.

Wow, he’s so cool.

But no, you guys. The star of the show was my SUPREME YANGNYEOM CHICKEN. Holy mother of all that is moly, this could have been the best thing I ate the whole time we were in Korea?!!! I housed nearly this whole tower on my own and I am not ashamed to tell you this. Chooch didn’t dare try one because they were made of mushrooms and, even though his current self-improvement goal is to force himself to add mushrooms into his diet, this was certainly not a thing yet when we were in Korea. So he didn’t even glance at my ‘shroom pyramid. I did let Henry have three (maybe just two) and then I diligently toppled the tower into my gut all on my own.

I could have easily eaten the WHOLE thing on my own, I’m confident.

In fact, some girl came in after us and sat at a table alone with a book and ordered the same thing. I watched as she methodically ate it one by one, never taking her eyes off her book.

That is the life I want to live.

I mean, not here though.

In Korea.

The best part is that this didn’t even hurt my stomach!! It was so satisfying.

If (sigh) we ever go back, I will be returning to Cafe Siva, especially because all of the reviews I was reading today were spazzing out over how good the milkshakes are and now I of course need to research this for myself.

Afterward, we got back on the subway and went back to the DDP area because I really wanted to do the Seoul City Wall walk. But, that will be a post for another day!

I’d like to once again thank Henry for his hefty contributions to this recap, he basically carried the whole damn thing on his back with that one strong YEAH he gave me.

May 122024
 

Hi. Mothers Day was fine. Henry got me two Seventeen albums that I already have (granted one was just a different version) but Chooch spent his OWN MONEY IN FRONT OF FRIENDS on an NCT album for me and then bitched about it like it was the Great Plight of Spring 2024 for him, worse than waiting for college decisions. Jesus. Sorry for living!!

Dude the photos of Haechan was worth the price alone.

Then we got takeout from a vegan place on the South Side (Moodz). My buffalo chicken sandwich was fine but the oyster mushrooms were a bit too tough in parts. Chooch got the soul food platter which had really interesting eggplant “fish” and dirty rice – I thought it was really good but A LOT of food.

Henry didn’t get anything and I was so mad because I specifically told him to get either the po boy or the fish sandwich because I wanted to share and he came home with JUST A COOKIE for himself so this started a fight and then I was like I DONT WANT MY CHICKEN EITHER THEN U RUINED MOTHERS DAY YET AGAIN I HATE U but then I calmed down and ate and it was fine.

Then Henry and I went to the cemetery for a walk and some random tween boy was running away from his family (???) and have me a finger salute and said, “Happy Mothers Day” and for some reason this was the best part of the day, it was so weird and sort of cute I guess because his family was blowing the horn and SCREAMING-SCRAME-SCRUMMING from another part of the cem for him to get his ass back there.

(He obeyed.)

Later, we went to play tennis and I was relegated to the backseat :/

We were in really bad form though, just a total off day, sluggish, playing like amateurs so I threw a quiet tantrum and went back to the car even though Ball Boy was like “you guys didn’t even warm yet” – I was like THE FUCK U KNOW ABOUT WARMING UP BITCH STAY IN YOUR LANE.

But then we came home and Henry did yardwork and I exercised which made me feel a lot better.

Then Tamanna came over and gave me a rose for Mother’s Day! It was really sweet but the. LANGUAGE BARRIER so she said she would message me but when she went home she video called me on What’s App and I panicked and didn’t answer.

Then I made Henry take another walk with me (my third of the day because I am so fucking nervous and can’t sit still) and wow Brookline Blvd is a whole different vibe on Sunday nights. It was like every bar we walked past catered to a different ethnicity and it was pretty cool and WILDLY varied. We were like, “damn ok Brookline 2024, pop off.”

Came home and watched videos of people eating at vegan places in Korea and I was internally weeping.

And that was Mothers Day 2024. Fine but could have been better. I could have been riding the Wacky Worm at least.

May 112024
 

We last left off with Henry and I shipping Chooch off alone to Gangnam so he could Pokemon Go his face off without having to deal with us nags. I did forget to mention that in the subway station we used after the Ewha / Sinchon stuff, I bought two rings (one is a face and today at brunch Megan was ogling it so now I obviously have to go back to Korea ASAP and get her one) and a really cute pouch which knots perfectly around your wrist and is so convenient and also super cute.

Also quick disclaimer, I’m writing this while drinking my way thru a soju buffet with Henry so for once I have a legit excuse for any collateral typos.

OK OK, we said fare thee well to Chooch and got off at the DDP stop, where we IMMEDIATELY had a hell of a time finding the NCT exhibition. We *did* find the other Kpop thing that was happening, which was billed as a “history of Kpop” and it SORT OF was in the beginning in that you walked down a hallway that was a kpop timeline (BIGBANG did get their due props BUT Seungri was cut out of the photos that were used which was annoying) but this ended up being an SM artists extravaganza so we quickly realized that this was an SM-sanctioned pop-up.

Of-fucking-course but I’m not complaining because I love SM artists so much. You, Blog, do not care about this stuff I don’t think but here are some photos I took anyway, so look or scroll through until we leave the DDP and go to BUKCHON!

Duuuude. This room was VIBES. I got big ideas, man. Big fucking “Henry, hear me out” ideas. Sheeeeeesh.

I reallllly liked the (SM artists) art in this room!!

DO I HAVE ROOM FOR A CENTERPIECE LIKE THIS IN MY HOUSE?!?!

“Henry, stand there. No, don’t worry about what it says.”

(It says FOOL, hahaha. I was so giddy when I found the letters for this.)

I also need to have a telephone booth / decompressing room in my house now too.

I dunno, some random couch.

I was really pissed though because there was a giant screen in this big open room with a sitting area/bleachers sort of but the videos that were playing didn’t match the songs that were also playing in the room!? Like, we walked in and NCT127’s “Kick It” video was proudly playing but the song was definitely…not that. It was really weird and disorienting.

(Also, Kick It is Henry’s fave NCT song and I was extremely disappointed that he couldn’t tell that’s what the video was? Like, that iconic Kick It choreo didn’t give it away!?! What a fucking poser NCTzen.)

Next, we continued on with our search for the NCT exhibition. The DDP is massive, spread out amongst three of four gigantic structures and half the time it felt like we were somewhere we shouldn’t be without a badge or something, but no one ever said shit to us so we continued to act like we knew where we going.

We did make a brief pitstop in the DDP gift shop where I got some cutie postcards that I intend to frame but also wanted to buy so much more. That was a really nice gift shop. If you’re in Seoul looking for gifts/souvenirs that aren’t chopsticks with a design that will rub off within 3 washes, go here. You can tell them Oh Honestly Erin sent you but they’ll just be like, “Cool. Good for you.”

OK finally!!!! WE FUCKING FOUND IT:

However, finding where to buy the tickets was another hassle altogether. I eventually found someone who looked like they worked there and they pointed us in the right direction.

But then we hit another wall, because we didn’t have our passports on us and since we hadn’t booked a ticket online (DID NOT KNOW THAT YOU COULD, KPOP SHIT IN KOREA FOR FOREIGNERS IS LIKE A CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE AND HALF THE TIME YOU CHOOSE INCORRECTLY AND HAVE TO START OVER). I was so pissed and Henry mumbled something about, “Oh well I guess we can just come back never” but when we got outside, I said, “Wait!!! Don’t you have pictures of our passports on your phone?!”

(Friendly reminder to have your passport on you always even though seems like the opposite of what you want to do because almost everywhere you shop, they will ask for your passport for tax refund purposes and sometimes just having a photo of it on your phone will suffice.)

So, we went BACK and they lady was like, “OK we can accept that,” because I guess they just needed to verify our names for the tickets because we got legit cards printed that had our names on it!!! But as she was about to process our info another worker came over and said,  in a slowed down “I’m addressing foreigners” tone, “This is for the Kpop NCT127.”

“Yes, we know,” I said, about to return my attention to the lady whose hand was out waiting for our credit card.

“Do you LIKE NCT127?” same girl asked, and again I said, “Yes.”

I just thought it was funny that she was trying to deter us from potentially purchasing tickets for something blindly, because we were clearly a good 20-30 years past the average NCTzen median.

Ticket secured!!

We got to go right in and I’ll spare you the details of it, but it was just a really fun walk-through of video footage of the NCT127 members talking to the fans, answering questions about their recent Great Unity concerts in Seoul (actually the last one for awhile probably because their leader Taeyong just enlisted in the military a few weeks after we came home, which 100% broke me but that’s OK, I’m fine, I’m 44-fucking-years-old, I can endure this haha), and then there was a really relaxing part where we got to chill out in REALLY cozy bean bags chairs and watch some clips from the concert.

Henry was snoozin’.

There was some more stuff after this that no one but me cares about, and then it spilled out into the GIFT SHOP where I bought this Haechan milk glass!!!! (Photo taken later in our hotel room.)

After that, Henry and I walked around the Cheonggyecheon stream for a bit.

Then we took the subway to the Bukchon Hanok Village area because we hadn’t been there yet on this trip and, yes, it’s touristy, but it’s also beautiful. There’s a bakery there called Layered that I wanted to try but when we got there, there was a pretty solid line out front for dine-in, so after standing there for a few minutes, I was like, “Look, we’re going to be here on Monday morning, let’s just do this then” and Henry was like WORKS FOR ME because if there is one thing he can NOT get behind, it’s queuing up for ANY type of food. He would rather just go and get the next best thing even if it’s like 8 tiers below what the line was for. His palate knows no difference.

We ended up at Machi Machi, which was fine!

Also quite crowded though. But first we had to select our treats and order our drinks. I was excited because there were two American-sounding guys in front of me who had no clue how this worked and I got to help them but saying, “Um, I think you need to take a tray from down there and also a pair of tongs….” but really I just wanted them to speed it the FUCK up because they were blocking the trays.

I mean, but also I was excited to help.

Let’s go with that.

We got salt bread (it was OK), an Earl Gray madeleine (delicioso), and whatever that pistachio croissant looking thing was (other then DELECTABLE).

It was a struggle to find somewhere to sit though. We ended up sitting in this super-low to the ground banquette right across from the restroom and it was so uncomfortable. I was like, “I cannot sit here and eat without hunching over like a fucking old hag” so when a couple abandoned their spot at a high-top bar table thing, I ran over and claimed it while Henry went back down to grab our drinks. Everything was much better after that. But yo, this cafe had two (large) floors of seating, a (large) outdoor balcony, and a bunch of tables outside on ground level. Almost completely at capacity!

I somehow didn’t know this was acceptable until recently, but it is perfectly fine to go into a cafe, claim an open table with your stuff, and THEN go back to order. In America, that is a huge etiquette strike, I feel like!?!? Akin to line-jumping?! But in Korea, go for it, I guess. I’m not sure how OK that is for foreigners, though, so DO IT AT YOUR OWN RISK.

And then report back to me because I want to know.

Precious Henry got a brown sugar boba. He is so goddamn cool.

Then we just strolled around. We came cross this C-list celebrity tree. Only like 5 people were waiting to get pictures under it.

This is another reallllly great area for gifts and non-chintzy souvenirs. Especially if you’re looking for local art, this is the spot. I bought an original watercolor off the sweetest ahjussi here.

He makes the paper himself that he paints on. It’s magical. I love art like this!!

Speaking of art….check out this perfectly placed bouquet that someone left behind.

Namsan Tower in the background.

When I say this area is ethereal…

And when I say this country has my whole heart….

Just look at these pictures and maybe you’ll understand.

I am in some type of agony right now, lol.

<3 <3 <3 Love you, Bukchon.

By this point, Independent Son was back at the hotel so we made our way there as well because it was almost DINNER TIME. Can’t live on pastries.

I mean, I could…

….but I shouldn’t.

Right???

May 102024
 

Saturday in Seoul! I have several photos that I could have used here but I want you, Blog, to see how PUT OUT Chooch looks in real life every time I suggest that it’s PHOTO TIME. I truly hope he ends up with a counterpart that is just as snap-happy as me so that his life will continue to be filled with demands of, “COME ON, JUST SMILE FOR FUCK’S SAKE!”

Anyway! The plan for the morning was to go to Ewha Womans University because it’s been on my Korea list since the first trip – the campus is beautiful and a very popular and tranquil tourist spot. We passed the stop for it on every trip we took to Hongdae over the years, but this time I made sure we actually stopped.

Also, it’s my friend Jiyong’s alma mater!

LOL ugh he hates being this close to me.

I took so many pictures of this because I’m obviously 12.

The way Korea tickles my obsessive personality…I was made to be in Korea.

FUN FACT: The first Starbucks in Korea was built in 1999 outside of the entrance to Ewha’s campus. I personally hate Starbucks so I didn’t care about this but Chooch did take a picture to send to Blake, who is a Starbucks…manager? Something?

This picture was taken right before we got to the campus, where I joked that the excuse I sent to Chooch’s school for his absences (he missed 3 days even though we tried hard to contain the whole trip to spring break, you can’t “do Korea” in ~7 days, sorry) wasn’t technically a lie now since I said he had to miss those days for campus tours.

#MomsWhoThink

Iconic! I have seen this in so many Seoul videos, it was so crazy to be there IRL.

I think they do allow a handful of men in and it *is* a prestigious private research university, which is definitely Chooch’s jam. Maybe semester abroad??

#MomsWhoDream

Afterward, we walked down the street to Dessert 39 because we were HUNGIE and I needed coffee bigly. I didn’t know this until days later when we saw another Dessert 39 but the 39 actually means that it has desserts from 39 countries.

……………

I had no idea while we were there. When I announced my factual findings, Chooch and Henry said in tandem, “Yeah, you didn’t know that?” Ugh fuck off.

Anyway, I was trying not to get distracted by everything in the case because I saw fig bagel on the sign outside the door and was set on that before we even walked in. I had never had a bagel in Korea before and wanted to know, OK??

The aesthetics here were so on point.

That’s Henry’s stick thing up there which he whined about for days because IT WASN’T WHAT HE ORDERED WAH. I guess he ordered something similar but it was supposed to be “in a bun” but instead it was given to him “packaged differently.” Um OK. I tasted it and it was delicious. There was cream inside.

My fig bagel was also really good and actually just what I needed for breakfast. The bagel itself definitely had that “rice cake / mochi” chew to it as expected from a Korean bagel – it was really satisfying.

Meanwhile, some guy who ordered right after us got his stuff first because he only got a coffee to go and we were making the poor girl, who was there alone, get her AM steps in as she ran and back and forth trying to get our shit done, and I just sort of casually watched him take his coffee up a short set of steps in the back where the bathroom sign was.

He was there FOREVER. Like to the point where I was starting to get concerned?! Henry and Chooch ignored me though.

 

Ahhhh my coffee cup! I should have checked to see if they were selling these. Goddammit.

Then Henry’s banana drink that I made him order against his will was ready! Look at Henry, mid-strut, returning to the table with his cuppa diabeetus.

You guys, it was delicious. It was like my beloved banana uyu but loaded up with way more calories – you could just, they might as well have just melted a stick of butter in there too for good measure.

It was topped with Banana Kicks!

LOL then I made Henry go back up and order this corn thing. From their website:

Corn Poisoned Bread

A deadly blend of corn and corn cream! With the savory texture of the corn kernels popping in your mouth and the sweetness of the fluffy bread sheets, you can indulge in the deadly and addictive taste of corn.

Yep! Anything corn-themed is going to be lit in Korea. Corn lattes? SATISFYING. Corn on pizza? BRING IT TO AMERICA. Corn desserts? CORNBREAD COULD NEVER.

(Well, that’s not true, I take that back – SOME cornbread could. ChiChi’s cornbread paved the way.)

Meanwhile, I still hadn’t peeped that guy returning from the bathroom but then some older man came out of the door at the top of the steps! He went behind the counter and based on CONTEXT CLUES, I think he was the manager / owner. Anyway, now I was curious so I went to investigate.

Ugh turns out it just opened up into a vestibule that connected the cafe to the rest of the building and there was a bathroom there as well. So, probably that guy exited that way because he works somewhere in the building.

:( Not very exciting.

And while ALL OF THIS was going on, Chooch was sitting at the table next to us being an utter cra-bapple because there was some POKEMON GO event happening at 10AM in Gangnam and he desperately wanted to go but like….I didn’t? We walked around for a bit after the cafe – we were within walking distance to Hongdae and started to go in that direction but then I said, “Yo, we have been to Hongdae A LOT” so then, around the time we saw some older man pee in a corner along a busy street, we decided that FINE we would trust Chooch to go to Gangnam alone, and Henry and I would go to the DDP.

I mean, the kid was in Mexico alone and is kind of amazing at figuring out public transportation. So, Mommy slackened the leash a little bit and let him go off because if he’s going to be exploring any gigantic metropolitan city alone, Seoul is definitely one of the safest.

That was so weird though, getting off the subway without him and watching it continue on with him sitting there without us, NOT EVEN CARING. :(