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Old School Stories


    My dad. My dear, sweet dad.  I have to tell another story about you, Dad. It is not your fault—you’re a great person. Simultaneously, these stories are hilarious and your embarrassment is less important than the purity of bringing comedy into the world. Consider this as an act of social justice.

    My dad. Hmmmmm: how to paint the most accurate picture?  One word that comes to mind is neurotic, but in a sweet way.  My dad has a sensitive nature and easily picks up on people’s energy.  He’s very considerate and cares deeply about the feelings of others. But being aware of other people’s emotions can make my Dad anxious at times.  He’s easily agitated by both his projections and the judgments of the outside world.  Yeah so I can say it right? My dad can be a little uptight.

    When my brother was first born, my parents lived in academic housing at Princeton where no children were allowed. They planned on moving, but figured they would leave soon after the baby was born.

    The day my brother came home from the hospital, my mother, her mother, my father, and their newborn baby Laszlo all got on the elevator.  As the doors started to close, a fellow resident of the “childless” building rushed to the elevator and pushed his way in.

    As my parents and grandmother rode in the elevator holding tiny Laszlo, all my dad could think about was how the man was surely condemning them for having a baby in this “baby-free” post-grad student housing.  He didn’t imagine this stranger might feel joy gazing at the sweet soul of a freshly birthed child. No. My dad was certain this man was silently denouncing them for their flagrant neglect of the rules.

    As his inner turmoil grew with each floor the elevator passed, my brother made a noise. Not a cry, mind you. Nothing loud or even particularly piercing –more of an innocent “meh” sound.  This barely perceptible audible assault pushed my dad over the edge and he plummeted deep into the abyss of his angst.

    My Dad: Shut up you little asshole!

    Why my dad said this no one understood. My mom, her mother, and the man all looked at my father with shocked eyes and confused faces.  But hey… at least he took the attention off my brother!



    February 21, 2014 • Family Drama, Old School Stories, Talking and Not Talking • Views: 1223

  • What Kind of Twisted Ten Year Old Was I?

    You know how you look through old pictures of yourself and suddenly a memory is sparked that you had suppressed deep in the annals of your psyche? A memory so penetrating it is actually quite painful because of the lack of emotional lubrication needed to make it glide in smoothly.  A remembrance that you are not proud of, so leaving it forgotten was actually better for your self-esteem.

    But then you are faced with your former self and are forced to contemplate what kind of person would do such a thing… and the answer is unequivocally you.  You are that person that would do that kind of thing.  Yeah, so I had one of those moments yesterday and it totally made me question what kind of demented person I was as a 10 year old.

    When I was in the 4th grade one of my closest friends Ashley moved to Spain in the middle of the year.  Now, it is one thing to leave before the summer, because the summer months make everyone forgettable, but it is another thing to leave with a whole half a year of school left! So needless to say I missed Ashley and would look nostalgically at her empty desk.

    Ashley was my first friend that I made at school, and we had a lot in common.  Like we both liked to jump rope and had a real passion for Fruit Rollups.  Life without her was bleak, so my mom suggested I go visit her in Spain for my spring break.

    Now I am not sure what the hell my parents were thinking when they put me on a plane to Europe by myself, but that was exactly what they did.

    Even though I was on vacation, Ashley was not, so I had to go to school with her.  Let me just say that there is nothing quite as lame as going to school on your vacation, but I also wanted to spend as much time with Ashley as I could.

    There was this boy who went to Ashley’s school who decided that he had a crush on me.  There was nothing wrong with this boy.  He was perfectly nice I am sure.  (Well we actually didn’t speak the same language so I don’t really know if he was – but he seemed okay).  Yet I really didn’t like boys, and felt humiliated by his love.  There was something embarrassing about the attention as the whole class learned of Jose’s adoration.  It was as if I was suddenly on display, and a willing participant of his affection.  Like I was asking for it.  When really I just wanted to whisper to Ashley about whether or not we had Nutella sandwiches for lunch.

    The more Jose liked me, the more the other students would make a big deal out of it, and the more I felt like hiding.  He at one point wrote me a love letter and even holding it in my hand felt demoralizing.  I felt oppressed by the little hearts that he drew for me.  Yeah perhaps it is a compliment when someone likes you, but I also didn’t want to feel this pressure that I had to like him in return.  I needed this to end.

    So I did what my ten-year old mind could think of to deflect his fondness for me.  You see… right before I left for Spain I had a wart on my hand, and the doctor put some liquid nitrogen on it to freeze it off.  But basically this procedure created a swollen imploded wart that was taking its sweet time to fall off.  As such, for the majority of my trip, I had an infested growth on my hand that was hanging on by a warty fiber.  But then, it fell off.  So I took said wart, put it in an envelope, and gave it to Jose.


    February 20, 2014 • Old School Stories, Relationships • Views: 976

  • The Most Vulgar Word Ever Spoken!

    I may sometimes throw out the occasional F-bomb in front of the Munch.  I might have once told her not to be such a dick.  And I can admit that if I say, “oh shit” Munch doesn’t flinch, and just asks, “what’s wrong Mamma?”  I am not saying I am proud that I occasionally swear in front of Munch, I am just saying that it happens.  Yet despite my quasi-vulgar vocabulary, I have never said the word “hate” around my child.

    Okay maybe this seems like somewhat backwards logic, but for me, swears are just accents of emphasis.  They don’t necessarily have a malicious or even negative connotation.  Maybe that is because my parents had somewhat loose tongues when we were growing up.  Yeah it is their fault! My mom and dad and their slutty mouths….

    When my brother Laszlo was in the 4th grade, his teacher was giving him a hard time, so in an effort to defend himself Laszlo said “Aw man, don’t be such a prick.” When questioned at the principal’s office why he would swear at his teacher, my brother was confused.  “But I wasn’t swearing! I just said he was being a prick? My dad calls me that all the time?”  Needless to say my father had some explaining to do.

    But hate!!??  I hardly ever say that word even when I am not around The Munch.  I might say that I want to cunt punt someone, but I would never say that I hated them!  I guess I feel like hate is a dirty emotion – one that I would never want to propagate.  The extremeness of hate, what it represents from a cultural perspective, it all feels like poison to the soul.  No thing, or person is worthy of hate.  Hate is a black energy that assassinates the true essence of the heart.

    So you can imagine my horror the other day when The Munch said, “I hate eating green beans.”

    Toni: What? Who taught you that word?

    Munch: Green beans?

    Toni: No… hate! Where did you hear that word hate? Who taught that to you?

    Munch: You did!

    Toni: Nuh uh! I don’t use the word hate!

    Munch: Yes you doooooo! Like when you say ‘I hate people.’

    Toni: Munch I have never said that!  I may feel that, but I don’t say that!

    Munch: I hate school.  My teacher says she hates everybody.

    Toni: Munch! What are you talking about? Anne does not say that! You go to a Waldorf school where your teacher makes Mary Poppins look like a bitch.  There is no way that Anne says she hates everybody.

    Munch: She sure does Mom.

    Toni: Munch, do you even know what hate means?

    Munch: Yes and no.

    Toni: Well hate is a really mean thing to say! It means that you don’t love something or someone!

    Munch: Well I don’t love going to school. And I don’t love green beans.

    Toni: Touché.




  • With or Without You

    I was never one of those people who knew I wanted to have kids.  Maybe that is because doctors told me in my early 20’s that I would never be able to, so I needed to make peace with that possibility – but there was also this part of me that was never sure.  I didn’t have this unequivocal “I must create a spawn or I will not be a whole person” perspective.

    When I was a teenager of course I didn’t want to get preggers- especially because there was no “16 and Pregnant” on MTV – and subsequent way to get famous from it.  Being a teen mom just wasn’t as glamorous in the 90’s as it is today.

    And then my friend Bitty died when I was 20, and it changed everything. I think that was the catalyst for my uncertainty to procreate.

    The only way I knew how to deal with the mourning was to find some meaning in the loss.  That is not easy to do when someone dies so young.  There is no logic to it.  No rational that can ease the pain.  But I needed something that would paint the dark consequence of death a different shade of black.  I couldn’t let her passing be random.  It had to be significant.

    So I made a promise to Bitty.  That I would love her forever, and never stop keeping her in my heart.  And that she could live whatever life she wanted to through me.  It was like I offered my existence to be a conduit for her to still experience the world.  We could share my body, like we did everything else when she was alive.

    I held onto my love for Bitty with an irrational fervor, because to let go seemed too lonely to bear.  But then all these things would happen, these coincidences, mysteries, moments, where I genuinely felt we were still connected.  Still communicating.  To explain them would be like trying to relay a dream, but they felt so real to me.  I started to believe in the eternal nature of the soul.  That we are all connected by love, and that love is the very fabric of the universe.  The space between that holds everything together.

    I became more interested than ever in the esoteric, spiritual, and metaphysical realms.  And part of me wanted to pursue that path fully- to commit my life to one of deep existential reflection.  To do things like live in an ashram, or go on month long silent retreats, and be free of all earthly attachments.  I just didn’t see how a child fit into that plan.

    But as the universe would have it, I could get pregnant, and did have a child.

    And I was right in many ways.  Having a kid has made it so I will never travel the road I thought I would.  Because how can I leave her behind?

    That is the thing about making a baby.  They they are always on your mind.  There are days where I am counting the minutes for my freedom from the The Munch, but then after the initial thrill of being an individual wears off – I miss her.  As much as I sometimes want to get away, I also can’t wait to get right back to her. There is no escaping how much you care about your child, how much they are a piece of you, how you can never again feel complete without them.  They are always with you, lurking in the depths of your being, like the herpes virus.

    But now The Munch IS my spiritual practice… and I am pretty sure she has taught me more about life than my mind alone every could have.


    January 29, 2014 • Mommy Mind, Musings, Old School Stories, Parenting • Views: 1178

  • Ummmmm Was I a Teenage Alcoholic?

    I started drinking when I was 11.  Well, let me rephrase that, the first time I got drunk I was 2, but I started drinking consistently at around 11.  How does a 2-year old get wasted you may wonder? Yeah… me too.

    I guess what happened was that I was at a party with my parents, and somehow took a sip of wine.  I guess I liked it, and drank more while no one was paying attention.  My dad told me that after an hour of of being an inebriated toddler; the fun for me stopped when I kept saying, “my head hurts” and falling down.

    My mom and dad were always pretty relaxed about alcohol, and felt like if they made it too taboo, it would only seduce my brother and me more.  They are Europeans, and felt the American attitude towards drinking was juvenile.  Their logic is reasonable, but also forgets the fact that not only is alcohol seriously fun, but also sort of addictive.  However, my mom did give me some pretty epic motherly advice on why not to abuse it.

    My Mom: Now don’t be stupid about drinking Toni.  You don’t want to become an alcoholic like your grandfather.  Always remember how he had to give up drinking entirely, and can’t even have wine with dinner.  Now what kind of life is that?

    Again.  Flawless reasoning.

    When I was in the 5th grade, my best friend from school would come over every weekend.  Somehow we got into the habit of drinking my parent’s liquor and then taking bubble baths in my their giant Jacuzzi.  After we were pruney and belligerent, we would make some flavored instant coffee to balance us out.  I don’t really know how this started, but it was our ritual.

    That year started a custom of drinking on the weekends with my friends.  Yet during the summer months, it became more of a daily routine.  I remember one specific night when my friend Bitty and I were hanging out with these two boys, and took a bottle of my mom’s whiskey.  We didn’t have any thing to mix it with, so we used Orange Fanta.  I thought I buried all the evidence, and we had gotten away with it.  Then the next morning when we were all having breakfast, my mom was looking out the window out at the garden, and the bottle was clearly hidden under the shed with the bright orange Fanta right next to it.  My mom was livid!!!  But not for the reason you would assume.

    My Mom:  Jesus Christ girls! What is wrong with you?  I cannot believe you mixed Glenlevit whisky with orange soda! What are you barbarians!!!!!!!??? I am honestly appalled by this.  That is just disgusting behavior.

    Even though I may have drank my way through my teenage years, by the time I got to college, booze was old news.  So instead of going to parties I did my homework… then smoked pot and went to bed – obviously a much more productive schedule.  But I did get all A’s so hey…



  • Do You Remember Your First Love?

    Do you remember your first love? Someone that you crushed on so hard, that if your emotions had weight you would have suffocated under the intense pressure?  That person your young lust was so consumed by, it devoured your every thought with an innocent carnal desire.  I sure do.

    My best friend Bitty and I loved the same boy.  He was 7 years older than us, and hotter than both Cory Haim and Cory Feldman combined into some weird Cory siamese-twin hybrid.  We would fixate over this boy’s physical perfection and had countless daydreams about us both marrying him and running away to live in California.  I mean, we did everything together so why not keep that going right? Besides I think we were a little too young to be jealous or possessive, so polyamory seemed like a totally legitimate idea.

    Because we were 13, we were also slightly naïve about the nature of relationships.  Our love wasn’t necessarily sensual, but more obsessive.  It was an infatuation that wasn’t rooted in reality, but instead a childish fantasy of just being around this boy’s beauty.  That was all we really wanted.  To be able to look at him all day, but still hang out with each other.

    Whenever the boy was spotted at the beach we would obviously stalk him.  We tried to be subtle about it – having read a lot of Harriet The Spy I thought we were being slick.  But I am pretty sure our efforts were not only painfully noticeable, but embarrassingly so.

    So one day the boy swam out to the raft where there was a slide, diving board, and high-dive.  Bitty and I obviously followed, but don’t worry, we waited a full 90 seconds so we wouldn’t seem desperate.  When we got out to the raft, the boy was diving in and out of the water.  We climbed onto the dock and tried to look as sexy as possible in our one piece bathing suits.  Then the boy climbed up the ladder, his skin glistening, his brown hair hanging over his perfect features, and with raging hard on.

    Bitty: Oh my god Toni.  He totally has a boner!

    Toni: Shhhhhh!! Bitty! Jesus Christ!

    We both quickly dived back into the water and Bitty was laughing so hard she almost drowned.

    Toni: Bitty stop laughing! He is going to know we are laughing at him!

    Bitty: Dude, it is hilarious.

    I was so horrified by this.  It felt like the time I finally understood that Penny got an abortion in the movie Dirty Dancing – and didn’t just need a doctor for some mysterious reason.  I had seen that film 100 times as a kid, and then one day I was like “ohhhhhhhhh so that is what happened” and suddenly all the color in the world faded, and my existence was left a dark shade of grey.  It was this adult reality my child mind couldn’t comprehend.

    Much like how I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that this perfect boy would do the same things dogs did when they rubbed against your leg.  I had never thought of him in a sexual way, and to suddenly see him as this primal being was terrifying.  All my illusions were shattered, and suddenly my love didn’t seem so pure anymore.

    I guess this was the moment of corruption for me.  That I had to realize what having a crush on a boy really meant.  That you wanted him to put his p in your v at some point, and that image was so disgusting to my 13 year old mind that I got into smoking weed instead.


    January 24, 2014 • Adventures, Old School Stories, Relationships • Views: 1663

  • My Harvard Life

    When I was 6 years old my parents, brother, and I moved into a Harvard dorm.  My mom and dad were asked to be the “masters” of Currier House… which seemed like a really big deal – much like how He-Man and his friends were the “masters of the universe.”  We moved the year I started the 1st grade, and I spent my childhood growing up Harvard.

    It turns out being the House Masters of Currier house was a lot less like living at Castle Grey Skull than I had expected.

    For one, I would host a lot of parties.  We had to hold these cocktail soirées so the parents could come visit, and see how their kid was spending their $40,000 a year (besides smoking pot and finger-banging).  Believe it or not, my parents didn’t always want to deal with these events.  So they would send me as their ambassador and I would pass around pigs in a blanket and wine while telling the moms and dads that their child was in fact a genius.  My parents would eventually show up once everyone was so liquored up that they didn’t care anymore that their kid as getting an A-  (the kiss of death in the academic world).

    I also had a LOT of independence growing up.  I came and went whenever it tickled my fancy, and no one seemed concerned about my whereabouts.  I guess my parents assumed that we existed in this hyper safe atmosphere.  And in many ways it was, because the chances of me getting kidnapped were pretty low – everyone was too busy proving their superior intelligence.  But I was also surrounded by 400 college-aged kids, and had 24 hour access to a vending machine.  There was a 3 week period where I consumed nothing but Reeces Pieces as some sort of solidarity to ET.  I also ate every meal at the cafeteria, which meant starting at age 7 I  was picking all my own meals. I think it was about 4 years into my living there that my mom noticed I hadn’t eaten anything green since we had moved in.

    There was this one night in the 3rd grade that my friend Lizzie came to sleep over.  We snuck out of the apartment at around 11 and what happened after is a mystery even to me.  When my parents came to wake us up in the morning because Lizzie’s mom and dad had come to get her, they went into my room and realized we weren’t there.

    My Mom: Ummmm that is strange.  They should be in bed.  And they are not.

    Lizzie’s Parents: Yes, it seems that way.

    My Mom: Hmmmm.  I know! I will call the front desk and ask them.

    Lizzie’s Parents: Yeaaaaah.  That would be great.

    Front Desk: Hello?

    My Mom: Have seen Toni and her little friend?

    Front Desk: Yeah, they are passed out on the pool table.

    I mean, what 10 year old wouldn’t want to play pool at 4 am with a bunch of drunk guys??

    Every day when I got home from school I would roller skate the halls and be on the look out for students who wanted to hang with me (which was a surprising amount of people).  I think I reminded people of their little brother’s or sisters, and when they felt homesick I was a good remedy.

    There was this one girl who had beautiful hair, and I always wanted to practice my hair-doing skills on her.  She was a good sport, and would often let me in her room to chill even after her French braids were done.  One afternoon I was trying on her jewelry as she studied for a test.  At one point she went to the bathroom, and I opened another drawer in search for more pretty sparkly things.  I found this cool little box and opened it.

    When she came out I was balancing her diaphragm on my face, and trying to blow it up like a balloon.

    Toni: These things are awsum! My mom has one too!! What are they for anyway?

    Yeah….. I don’t think that girl ever quite recovered from that moment.

    (Here is a picture of 9 year old Toni…. and of course, a diagram of how a diaphragm is used just so that visual of it sitting on my face can really sink in).


    January 21, 2014 • Adventures, Family Drama, Old School Stories, Talking and Not Talking • Views: 2936