1st time for everything

  • A Moral Crisis At The Zoo

    I have purposefully avoided taking my child to the Zoo. Even though I can acknowledge that the agenda of zoos is most likely conservation and cultivating an appreciation for wildlife – I still can’t help but feel that the animals are imprisoned in a purgatory of unimaginable mental desolation. They are trapped in small confined “natural” habitats where humans gawk at them by the thousands, energetically raping them with their expectant eyes. Even the thought of the zoo overwhelms me with grief – the bleak reality that we have destroyed these creature’s territories, and now keep them in jail for our own amusement.

    So when The Munch expressed interest in wanting to go the zoo, I debated telling her all that… and of course adding in a manifesto about poachers and the ever shrinking rainforest – but she just kept insisting that seeing a zebra would be cool. Besides, it seemed like a pretty dark conversation to have with your 3 year old on a a Sunday afternoon.

    My parents had already brought Munch a few days before, and she wanted to go back with all of us to show me the animals. So my mom, dad, Munch and I all went to the zoo, as I grappled with twisting sentiments of not wanting to support this torturous eco system, but also acknowledging that from Munch’s perspective it was pretty amazing to see a panda bear.

    My dad and I are both people who can never enjoy a moment because we are too busy over analyzing and judging. While Munch and my mom could appreciate the experience for what it was, my dad and I kept whispering to each other about the moral conflict. We would then look at people with disapproving eyes and flinch with disgust at those ignorant enough to pound on the glass in hopes for some attention from the unsuspecting spectacle inside. The sad being wondering why every one was looking at them while they were trying to snack on bamboo and scratch their ass. The only solace I had was when my dad reminded me that the trainers probably really loved these animals, and that they all looked like “nice women in khaki shorts.”

    Yet here is the problem with witnessing a wild animal in a contained environment – it takes all the magic out. If I saw a Bengal Tiger out in nature I would shit a golden egg, but at a zoo you are like “yeah, that Komodo dragon is pretty neat, now lets go check out the gorillas.” It is so easy to flip through these beings like old magazines at the dentist. They are too accessible because they are enclosed. You didn’t have to put in any effort to find them, expect for maybe walking through a crowd of people.


  • Childhood Wishes

    I used to make wishes all the time as a child. Every time I saw the first star, blew away dandelion achenes or an eyelash, threw a penny into a fountain, broke a wishbone, or when the clock showed 11:11 (or 2:22, 3:33, 4:44…) I guess I was kind of a greedy wisher.

    After a certain point, I stopped making wishes – probably because so many of them didn’t come true. I don’t have size DD boobs, nor do I live in a candy castle with Keanu Reeves as my butler. Eventually I realized that the effort wasn’t worth the pain of disappointment.

    As I got older and exposed to new age thinking of manifesting destiny through positive thinking, I started trying that. I was told to visualize the things I wanted in life as already having happened. Not asking for something to be granted in the distant future by some abstract force, but instead envisioning my desires as being actualized in the present moment by my own psychic prowess. Yet even though I believe that we are masters of our experience of consciousness in this ever flowing universe of infinite space, time, and dimensions – I still don’t have a butt like Beyonce or a best selling book all about me, me, me (co-written by Keanu Reeves).

    Again I gave up. I figured there was not much I could do to interfere with the cosmos, and its grand plan for my purpose here on planet earth. I came to accept my failures, both in thought and in practice, as just part of the path.

    But as The Munch is starting to understand the concept of wishes, I can’t help but want to indoctrinate her with magic of belief.  Even if existence is just a cruel shadow of what we hope it could be, it is still nice to get caught up in the potential.

    So the Munch and I each picked a transformed dandelion, and puffed the seeds into the wind as we made our wishes.

    Munch: Mamma, what did you wish for?
    Toni: What did YOU wish for??
    Munch: I wished that I could be with you forever and ever.
    Toni: Awww. That is really sweet.
    Munch: What did you wish for Mamma?
    Toni: Ummm.  Honestly? I wished for success.
    Munch: Suxsex? What does that mean?
    Toni: Who knows Munch?
    Munch: That is a really silly wish. You should make another one.
    Toni: And what should I wish for?
    Munch: That you can stay with me forever and and ever.


  • I Went on Vacation!

    The Munch and I went on our first vacation together! It was my friend Gita’s birthday and she invited us for a girl’s adventure down to the Caribbean!! Nothing says debaucherous birthday fun like bringing your toddler along for the ride…am I right or what!?

    It turns out the majority of people who frequent secluded islands are people on their honeymoon…or babymoon. I actually had never heard of a babymoon and thought there was some peculiar plague of pregnant bitches. It seemed unusual and odd to have so many gestating women in one place. I guess couples like to get some time in the sun before their baby comes out and ruins their lives. Just kidding…. I mean enriches their previously meaningless existences!

    The only real drama was that The Munch got a little burnt on our first day out. My dogmatic environmental ideology backfired. Of course I had put the eco-organic-hippy-sunscreen on her because I didn’t want her body laden with toxic chemicals. Ironically, I put on the chemie shit because I didn’t want to use her precious whale semen infused brand – and of course didn’t get burnt at all. The Munch got a little pink because I was supposed to reapply her guava-pulp-iguana-spit-screen every 7 minutes as the crow flies west over the rosy-fingered dawn.

    It wasn’t that bad of burn, but I figured the next day I would get her one of those long sleeve “swimmie” shirts that all the other pasty white children were wearing. I got her the cutest one I could find, but knew without Cinderella or some twatt from Frozen plastered on it, she wasn’t going to be into it. The thought of covering up her fiercely adored “Hello Kitty” bikini with a non-Disney endorsed swimmie shirt was NOT making her happy.

    After a 2-hour negotiation (and a promise of cake) she finally acquiesced – BUT ONLY IF I WORE A SWIMMIE SHIRT TOO. After all, The Munch didn’t want to get jealous of me wearing my bikini. The only shirt I had that covered the MOST amount of skin that suited my child’s demands was my T-shirt from the plane, which I dutifully wore despite being grossed out with all the plane breath on it. In this Caribbean world where everyone was busy showing off their tan-Pilates-toned physiques, I looked like I had body dysmorphia with my Pink Floyd T-shirt on the pristine sandy beaches. But hey… our shoulders aren’t peeling!

    I noticed the other parents had their kids out of the ocean by 6 to have them at dinner, and then in bed by their normal bedtimes of 730/800. Obviously these parents don’t know about my serve your child supper in the shower innovation. It may not be the most hygienic process to feed your kid avocados and crackers amidst their bathing process, but at least we got to stay in the ocean and watch the sunset every night!

    The most magical night was our second day when Gita, Jade, Munch, and I all went to the beach for a dusk swim. While The Munch played in the sand, the three of us big girls swam in the sea and talked for 2 hours. We watched Munch collect seashells, make sandcastles, and talk to ladies on the beach who were wondering, “where the hell is your mommy?” But she was making friends! And we had the longest extended period of time where we didn’t have to play “I spy with my little eye…”

    My night was topped off with the very special treat of listening to the honeymooning couple in the room  next to me have gratuitously loud sex. I turned on every apparatus and technological gadget in the room to drown out her excessive moaning and the rapid slapping of skin. I get it! You are so in love! Can’t you just watch John Stewart like a normal couple?

    The flight back always sucks because the anticipation and adrenalin of the time away is a thing of the past, but The Munch had an amazing strategy to liven things up. She decided that during the very short window of time we had to get through customs and make our next plane was the perfect occasion to demand to draw and practice her hearts. Her request was so irrational and crazy I was at a loss as to how to negotiate with her. I gave up, and handed her stupid “Hello Kitty” pencils and “princess book.” The Munch then drew the entire way as we walked through security and the two miles to gate C.

    Considering she is three, The Munch is a pretty good travel companion. She was really into the idea of being “just one of the girls,” on a fun “girls adventure.” She’ll probably go back to preschool this week and say to her little classmates, “yeah, me and my friends were just hanging on the beach for the weekend – drinking coconut water and shit.”

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    June 2, 2014 • 1st time for everything, 3 years old, Adventures • Views: 3816

  • Planes, And an Existential Crisis of Freedom

    I haven’t traveled on a plane for few years.  Having had so much time pass made my most recent flight seem totally novel. Especially because I was bringing The Munch for her first plane ride ever, so it was like a virgin experience – except we were flying American.

    After going through all the security and having to show our ID’s multiple times, something became very clear to me that I had never exactly noticed before.  Country borders are a fucking prison! If you don’t have the right paper work, you are not getting out!!!!  We are hostages of our nations!

    I started to have a panic attack from this bleak reality, as The Munch was obsessively interested in how planes got up in the air.  I was like “I don’t know dude… but do you realize that freedom is an illusion!?”

    I know there is political justification for borders that people ascribe to, but aren’t we all just citizens of planet earth?  How does this make sense that we are each quarantined to these divided areas?  The tribal mentality of domestic pride seems so outdated in a planet being destroyed over fights for raw materials and basic resources.  Perhaps the fact that we are separated is exactly why there is so much exploitation and corruption.  It is not like a one world government is the answer, but self-segregation isn’t either.  I am sure there is a way to maintain and respect cultural traditions yet also allow ourselves to live unrestricted.

    I tried to talk about all this to The Munch, but all she cared about if the wings of the plane flapped like a bird.

    Munch Plane

    May 30, 2014 • 1st time for everything, Adventures, Musings, Political Banter • Views: 2309

  • My First (and last) Male Stripper

    When I turned 18, my girl friends and I had an amazing idea.  We would hire a male dancer for my birthday party – I am talking about the naked kind.  Forget the fact that we were in high school and the rest of my friends were underage. Never mind that we had no actual interest in seeing a grown man’s wingy-ding – it was more the right of passage we were into. But finding a stripper wasn’t that easy in 1998, and we had nothing but the Yellow Pages to turn to. We flipped the massive book to the letter “S,” for number for “strippers” and called the first number we saw.

    My birthday is on December 29, which is not only in the dead of winter, but also during Christmas vacation. (BECAUSE WE WERE IN HIGHSCHOOL REMEMBER?) A lot of people were on holiday with their families, which meant only 6 girls were at my house that day, and then 25 guys. Luckily no one really cared about the 4 to 1 guy to girl ratio because we were all just excited that I had 3 cases of Red Dog beer, but that did mean our guy friends would have to be hide in the kitchen when our stripper arrived so as not to distract us from our magic moment.
    At around 11 pm my doorbell rang. I opened the door to my “stripper” and did my best not to allow any disappointment to show on my face. Allow me to take a moment to describe him to you. He was in his mid 30’s and wearing jean shorts that extended down to his mid thigh, but were also cut in strips all the way up to his crotch. So if you can imagine a pair of denim venetian blinds wrapped around his legs, barely covering his balls. He was wearing a white tank top under a black pleather jacket, and his hair was fashioned into a pretty sweet, feathered mullet. The mullet had a nice crispy curl to it because of the excessive use of unidentifiable product, which omitted an unidentifiable odor of floral chemicals. In his right hand was a boom box, and in his left, a bottle of body oil.
    Toni: Uhhhhhh come in?
    Since the guys were not exactly interested in having the life experience of watching an aging 80’s rocker take his clothes off, we closed the kitchen door and ordered them stay down stairs while us girls followed the stripper upstairs to the living room. I can’t say any of us were exactly excited to see this man naked, so it was more like the walk of tears up the spiral staircase.
    Once upstairs we sat on the couch and looked at each other with apprehension as our stripper turned on his boom box and White Snake blared out into the silent room. He took off his shirt, and began gyrating violently, all the while asking who the birthday girl was – my friends eagerly pointed to me, as I tentatively smiled at his bouncing balls in my face.
    He began pumping his pelvis towards me at an alarming speed, then took my hand, and gingerly placed it on his chest. I can still remember the feel of his 3-day old pectoral stubble and whatever lubricant he had lathered up his body with. Now keep in mind, we had really dressed up for our stripper and had gone through my mom’s closet. We were wearing some fancy expensive clothes of hers, which intuitively I knew she would not appreciate if covered in KY jelly. While reluctantly cupping this man’s slightly sagging breast muscle, it became painfully obvious to me that the one thing I really didn’t want to get on my mother’s designer duds was stripper grease – but I also didn’t want to be rude so I kept my hand their, soaking up his sweaty emollient.
    Luckily, when Bon Jovi’s “Shot Through the Heart” came on, the stripper got really excited and released me from his grasp. Swept away my his love for the song, he started intensely fist-pumping while struggling to take off his shorts with his other free hand. We were then exposed to his red thong, which gently cradled his flaccid penis. Either we were not cute enough, or he had done way too much cocaine – but either way its lifeless state was noticed. Perhaps it was his sense of common decency, or maybe his fear of getting arrested, but by the grace of god the thong stayed on.
    Our stripper continued to pulsate his genital region around us as we feigned interest and excitement. We didn’t want to hurt his feelings, but we also really didn’t want to touch him. His music kept him motivated as Motely Crue bled into AC/DC which was followed by David Lee Roth, Cinderella, Def Leppard, and into Poison… By the time we got to Whitesnake, he had worked up quite a sweat – which was being flicked into our faces every time he spastically moved his body, or whipped his head around. After a combination of perspiration and scented body spray flew into my mouth, I started to wonder if maybe I had just caught an STD.
    Finally he tired himself out, and we all gratuitously thanked him for his time and talents. Let me just tell you that there is nothing sadder than watching a stripper collect their things to go. We tried to balance the awkwardness by talking amongst ourselves about how amazing that all just was, and I think he did a couple of lines of blow off my mom’s coffee table. We went back down stairs and released our guy friends whom we had quarantined in the kitchen; they asked if stripper experience was all that we thought it would be. It was… and much, much, more.




    May 22, 2014 • 1st time for everything, Old School Stories • Views: 8589

  • Talking to My Kid About Gay Marriage

    Munch:  Mamma, lets play with my Little Mermaid dolls.

    Toni: Okay…

    Munch:  You will be Naked Ariel.  I will be Wedding Dress Ariel and Prince Eric.

    Toni:  Why is this Ariel Naked?

    Munch:  Because she used to have tail, but Ursula turned her into a human, so now she is naked.

    Toni: Oh.

    Munch: So you pretend that you are crying because Prince Eric is going to marry the other Ariel wearing the wedding dress.

    Toni:  Waaaahhhhaaa.  Don’t marry Wedding Dress Ariel!

    Munch (as Prince Eric): I am going to marry Wedding Dress Ariel.  Sorry Naked Ariel, but I am going to fly away with Wedding Dress Ariel high up in the sky.

    Toni:  Can I fly away too?

    Munch (as Prince Eric):  No – because you don’t have special powers.

    Toni:  Well can you share some of your special powers so I can fly too?

    Munch (as Wedding Dress Ariel):  No Naked Ariel.  Bye.  We are going to go away now to get married.

    Toni:  But you guys aren’t being very nice.

    Munch (as Wedding Dress Ariel): Well, we are going to get married so you are going to be alone Naked Ariel.

    Toni: Well can’t we all get married?  We could be like one happy family.

    Munch: Well, maybe Wedding Dress Ariel could marry Naked Ariel?

    Toni:  Sure. That sounds like a great idea!

    Munch:  But can two girls get married?

    Toni:  Of course they can!

    Munch:  Oh right.  Of course!  Two boys can get married too Mom.

    Toni: Exactly!

    Munch:  Okay.  So Naked Ariel and Wedding Dress Ariel can get married and Eric can just watch.

    Toni:  Ummmm sounds like everyone is happy!

    Munch (as Wedding Dress Ariel):  Come one Naked Ariel! Let’s get married then fly to the store together to get watermelon!

    Toni: Sounds like a pretty awesome relationship.

    It was just that easy


  • Sex and Death On a Sunday Afternoon

    I am pretty sure I just became public enemy #1 in The Munch’s pre-school.  The things she may tell her little friends come Monday morning are guaranteed to get me crucified.  It all started on a Sunday afternoon. The day seemed peaceful until The Munch started asking me questions about life and death.

    Munch: Mamma, are you going to die?

    Toni: Yes I am….

    Munch: BUT NO!! I don’t want you to die!

    Toni: I have to die Munch.  It is a part of life.

    Munch: But I will be so sad!!! I DON’T WANT YOU TO GO AWAY EVER!

    Toni: Well, I probably won’t die until I am old.

    Munch: Are you old now?

    Toni: I am young at heart.

    Munch: When will you be old?

    Toni: When you are all grown up.

    Munch: Then you will be old and die?

    Toni: Yeah…

    Munch: NO! I want you to stay with me forever!

    Toni: Well, my heart will stay with you forever.

    About an hour later…

    Munch: Do all boys have a penis?

    Toni: Yes Munch, all boys have penises.

    Munch: Not every boy right? Just some boys?

    Toni: Nope. All boys have penises.

    Munch: But girls don’t have penises?

    Toni: No, girls have vaginas.

    Munch: But what are vaginas for?

    Toni:  Vaginas are for making babies.  That is where the baby comes out of when it is born.

    Munch: It does? I thought I came out of your back!

    Toni:  You thought you came out of my back?

    Munch: I sure did!  So does that mean little teeny tiny babies have to crawl into vaginas so they can grow in the mommy’s tummy and then come out the vagina and be born?

    Toni: Kinda.

    Munch: But I didn’t crawl into your vagina.  I don’t remember that at all.

    Toni:  Well you sort of did.

    Munch: Wait, so how did I get in your tummy?

    Toni:  Ummm… so daddies have little tadpoles that live inside their penis.  They are really small.  And when the tadpoles swim inside the mommy, a baby gets made.

    Munch: But how do the tadpoles get inside the mommy?

    Munch: Uhhhhh, the daddies put their penis in the mommy’s vagina, and the tadpoles swim out…

    Munch: That is so funny!!!!!!

    Toni: I know!

    Munch: So is that how my cousin Calvin was made? Did his daddy put his penis in his mommy’s vagina so the tadpoles could swim up inside his mommy’s tummy?

    Toni: That sure did happen!

    Munch: Did Elliot’s mommy and daddy to that too?

    Toni:  Yes.

    Munch: And Ryhs?

    Toni: Everyone who was ever born, that is what happened.

    Munch: But how do the tadpoles make the baby inside the mommy?

    Toni:  The tadpoles are actually called sperm.

    Munch: SPERM!?

    Toni:  Yes.

    Munch: I never heard that word before.  That word is so funny!!!

    Toni:  It is hilarious actually.

    Munch: So what does the sperm do?

    Toni:  Inside the mommy, she has a special baby egg which lives inside her baby sack.  So the sperm has to swim inside the baby sack, and then it meets the egg.  The egg and the sperm join together to form a little teeny tiny tiny tiny baby.

    Munch: A baby that is this big?

    Toni:  Exactly.  And that teeny tiny baby lives in the mommy’s baby sack until it is ready to be born.

    Munch: And then the baby is born and eats from the mommy’s nanas.

    Toni:  Yup! That is pretty much it.

    Munch: That is so silly mom.

    Toni:  It sure is.

    Yeah I could have lied to her about this stuff.  It is not like I have a huge moral problem with lying.  I lie to Munch all the time about toy stores being closed, or that the chocolate bar I don’t feel like sharing is made of dog poop.  There are all sorts of reasons that we lie to each other that feel legitimate in the moment.  Most often people lie because they don’t want to deal with the other person’s reaction to the truth.  It is not that we want to conceal things, as much as we don’t want to deal with how people respond.

    I think that is exactly why I decided to be honest. I felt like Munch wouldn’t be asking if she couldn’t handle it – so I wasn’t afraid of being upfront. Dealing with mortality is a huge part of existence, and the more you are aware of it, the more you honor the life we are given.  Of course one can feel paralyzed by the thought of death, but we all have those moments.  The important lesson is to appreciate life even though it may all seem futile because of our inevitable and ultimate demise.  Even though I know The Munch doesn’t want to conceptualize me dying, I also felt it was meaningful to face the reality of it.

    There is a certain irony that the penis conversation came up this same day -pun intended! Pontificating on the penis turned into an explanation of sex and baby making because of the questions Munch was asking.  Maybe I could have avoided it, but hey, if we are going to look into the barrel of death, we might as well stare into the tunnel of life.

    (Pretty sure that if Munch talks about all this at school to her little friends there is going to be a public lynching… Guess what Timmy, not only is your mom gonna die, but your dad put his penis in her vagina so his sperm could become one with her egg… )



  • Would You Send Your Teenage Daughter To a Place Called “Camp Commando” in the Transylvanian Alps?

    The summer I turned 14, my parents basically said “get the fuck away from us.” Maybe they were a little subtler than that. They were actually like “how about you go away for a while Toni. Thanks.”

    My mom and dad suggested that my cousin Marta and I attend a language immersion program in Hungary to connect to our Magyar roots. When I shared this plan with my best friend Bitty, she made it clear we were not spending the summer apart and invited herself along.

    The three of us were excited to go to Europe, but not for the reasons our parents might have hoped. We were excited to drink beer. Learning Hungarian wasn’t exactly a top priority. The language program was two weeks long. I guess my parents wanted more time away from me and came up with the brilliant idea to extend our stay by sending us to a camp in Romania.

    I’m not sure what possessed my parents to send three 14-year old girls to “Camp Commando,”  deep in the Transylvanian Alps, but evidently we were sufficiently annoying and got shipped off.

    After two weeks  in Hungary, we started to wonder why the fuck we were going to Romania.

    Marta: Why are we going to go to the Transylvanian Alps again?

    Toni: I thought you wanted to go? That’s what my parents told me.

    Marta: What? I never wanted to go to Romania! My parents said it was Bitty’s idea  since this is her first time in Europe.

    We both looked at Bitty accusingly.

    Bitty: That is a total lie! My parents told me you guys wanted to go to Romania. I had never heard of Romania before this trip!

    Toni: Holy fuck. I think we were just conned by our parents.

    Yeah, all our parents lied to us by insisting it was the “other girls” who wanted to go.  Well played.

    I decided to call my dad and calmly inform him we were not going to Camp Commando. We’d be staying in Budapest, getting wasted, and flirting with boys. Completely confident with my reasoning, I called my parents. Five minutes later tears cascaded down my face as I cried hysterically on the phone with my father. Thankfully a compassionate old women walking by handed me a tissue.

    Toni: But Dad! We don’t wanna go to Romania. Nobody ever did. Why can’t we just stay here?

    My Dad: Toni, if you know what is good for you, you will be on that bus to Romania tomorrow and on your way to Camp Commando. If not, you will regret this for the rest of your life.

    And then my calling card ran out.

    The next day we tearfully dragged our suitcases, as we searched for the bus to Camp Commando. It became painfully obvious that we were not only lost, but had too many bags.

    Bitty: What if we never find it? Will they ever know? Can we just pretend we went?

    Marta: I don’t know. I really think we are near. Probably just a few more blocks.

    Sigh… Marta was a good girl and did not want to get in trouble. Ten minutes later we rounded the corner and saw the Camp Commando bus. As we boarded, we noticed the bus was packed – clearly everyone had been waiting for us. We made our way back to sit down when a woman loudly asked for the “American girls.” We were taken off the bus, into a building, and marched up 18 flights of stairs. Then they brought me into a room with a phone and pointed to it.

    Bitty: I think you have a phone call.

    I was seriously confused as to who could be on the line.

    Toni: Hello?

    My Dad: Toni, if you ever want to see the light of day again, you better be getting on that goddamn bus to Camp Commando.

    Toni: Jesus Christ, Dad….we are! Gawd!”

    I hung up totally angrily. On our three-day bus trip into the Romanian Alps, we learned a lot of things. We learned that everyone else had brought their own food and water.We also learned what it was like to sleep in an orphanage. Nobody spoke a word of English, nor did they notice when the bus left Marta and I  in the middle of the Romanian Countryside, where we stopped to relieve ourselves.

    Once we reached the base of the mountain, we had the unique privilege of being passengers in an actual concentration camp bus left over from WWII. For the entire six hour trip, we straddled the benches with a stranger between our legs and nestled between the legs of another stranger who was pressed against our backs while everyone around us sang Romanian folk songs. Once we reached the camp, we realized this little bus was not the only group of people who were going to Camp Commando. 60 Romanian boys were on board for soccer camp.

    The clothes we brought were appropriate for scampering around the beaches in Hungary, but far less than ideal for life in the Alps. At night, we all slept in one single bed to keep warm, taking turns being sandwiched by feet as that was the only way we could all fit. The shower at Camp Commando consisted of a hose that came out of the wall in the bathroom and only had hot water for one hour a day. Of course this magical hour changed daily and we never knew when that was because we didn’t SPEAK FUCKING Romanian. There was no toilette paper, so we resorted to using stale bread leftover from breakfast or the paper that the Romanian boys wrote their addresses on.

    Every night, dinner consisted of a circle of unidentified canned meat on more stale bread. To deal with our incessant hunger, we played card games with some of the boys in exchange for cheese. I never understood the rules of the game, but figured out pretty quick how to cheat. Once I even won a bottle of Cherry Coke from a 6-year old.

    I’m not sure what we actually did at the camp. Most of the time we had no idea what was going on, and got left behind, BECAUSE WE DIDN’T FUCKING SPEAK ROMANIAN. We did have a Romanian language lesson one day and learned a song about a bird, and another one about people with black eyes. The teacher found this song hilarious  because who has black eyes?

    We were totally stranded. These were the barbaric pre-internet days!  There was no way to call our parents, no way to hike out, we were stuck.  After 13 had passed (and I know this because I counted the notches of crust that had formed in my underwear) a new Hungarian teacher came to the soccer fields at Camp Commando.  By the grace of the universe, I was able to convince him in broken Hungarian and inappropriate hand gestures that he had to get us the fuck out of there. We devised a plan that he would come for us that night at 4 am and take us down into the town.

    Bitty and I were too afraid to sleep in case we missed our escape time to meet this mysterious man, so we stayed up while Marta took a nap. Two of the boys randomly showed up and brought us to a cabin outside the Camp, deep into the woods where an old man lived by himself. He sat by a fire, frying pork fat. That was the first time I had ever seen anyone flip their eyelids, and although retrospectively I can appreciate he was trying to entertain us, no human should ever see the inside of another human’s eyelids. At 3:30 we bid them goodbye, took the addresses of the boys in case we needed toilette paper, and then woke up Marta.  We dragged our suitcases to the secret spot, and thanked the heavens above that our savior, the teacher was already there, smoking a cigarette and waiting.

    We got in his car, each took one of his smokes, and spent the rest of the two hour drive trying to recover from the strength of the Romanian cigarette. Once in town, he brought us to his house, gave us a loaf of bread, a wheel of soft cheese, and drove us to the bus station. I don’t know who this man was, but I still worship him for his kindness from time to time. After two and a half days on a Romanian bus, we arrived in Budapest. Back at the youth hostel, we pulled straws for showers. Bitty won.

    Toni: Shit Marta. I really gotta shit.

    Marta: So go! There is a bathroom with actual toilet paper right there!

    Toni: Yeah, but Bitty’s in the shower. I don’t wanna ruin it for her. I’ll just go off the balcony.

    I then preceded to precariously perched myself on the side of the railing, my butt hanging off the metal bars, while Marta watched me poop, 30 feet above an abandoned courtyard below. I knew at that moment, we were finally women.

    (Here I am passed out in Hungary…)


    April 17, 2014 • 1st time for everything, Adventures, Family Drama, Old School Stories • Views: 12981

  • The Classic Grocery Store Meltdown

    One of the most embarrassing things that can happen when you are a parent is your kid having a total fucking breakdown at the grocery store.  I know this because I have been witness to many a meltdowns, and totally judged the shit out of the mom or dad whose child was screaming and pounding the floor.  I was like “those parent’s suck and that kid needs to get a grip” as I perused the cereal aisle.

    Yet eventually, you are that parent.  You are the one everyone is looking at, thinking that your child is a monster.  The more I try to be calm and reasonable, the more my kid loses her mind because she can’t get what she wants.  At home this happens all the time, and I can wait out the tantrum – but in a store I have to accept the fact that my parenting is on display for everyone to criticize.

    The longer it goes on, the longer both you and your kid look like assholes.  So what do you do? Do you give in to save face? Or stick with the “no you can’t have that” rationale because you don’t want to buy your child crap just because they want it.

    Recently I experienced this humiliation for the first time, and it was all over Welch’s grape juice.  What Welch’s was doing at this organic hippy coop is beyond me, but The Munch really wanted to buy some.  Yeah, okay… you are probably thinking, “what the hell is the big deal about grape juice?” – but to me there is so much that pains me to purchase a product like that.  Yet trying to explain my logic to The Munch while she publicly wept was pretty much a lesson in futility.

    Toni: No Munch, we can’t get that kind of juice.  We can get a different kind instead.


    Toni: Dude, we really can’t.  I will buy you this grape juice instead.


    Toni: Listen, that grape juice has GMOs.  It is made with high fructose corn syrup.  I just can’t support that company.


    Toni: There is no way we are supporting that company. Listen, I will get you grape juice.  I have no problem with you drinking grape juice – just not that brand.


    Toni: Munch, it isn’t even juice.  It is like 10% juice – if that. It is grape essence flavored with chemicals and environmental suffering.


    Toni: You can’t ask me to buy this.  We can’t spend our money supporting this company.  It is giant food conglomerates like Welch’s that are annihilating the planet with their monoculture approaches to farming… and don’t even get me started on the pesticides. Don’t you care about the bees? Listen, I know you want this kind of grape juice, but Mamma will never buy it.  I am doing this for you… so our food system is not totally corrupted and there is a slight chance of human survival.  Don’t you want to have a future that isn’t a nuclear waste land ruled by robots?


    Toni: So does this one Munch.  The nice organic one that is 7 times more expensive also tastes super yummy…