1. My Personal Ode to Derek Jeter

    When Derek Jeter first came into the Baseball world, I was a newly turned 6 year old living just outside of New York City in a Jersey suburb. My dad grew up a Yankee fan, idolizing DiMaggio and Mantle, so obviously my team was chosen for me before I even knew what baseball was. I don’t remember my first baseball game - I’ve rooted for the Yankees for as long as I can remember. For more than half my life, Jeter has been the shortstop.

    My love for Jeter has gone through many stages over the past 20 years. When I was a kid, he was simply the new shortstop who helped the Yankees dominate the late 90s. Somewhere around when I turned 10 years old, I was at a game with my dad and from the upper deck, third baseline I watched Jeter make an amazing play and something clicked in my head: I was in love. 

    This marks the beginning of what might’ve been an unhealthy obsession with Jeter. Like lots of girls my age, I wanted to grow up and marry Derek Jeter. I started learning everything about him over the next few years. It didn’t help that I was going through Middle School and becoming a boy crazed pre-teen. I read his biography, “The Life You Imagine”, I memorized mundane facts like his family’s names, his favorite foods, the fact he was named after a hockey player, even his hat size. His hat size! When in my life will I ever need to know that Derek Jeter wears a 7 1/4 size hat? I guess I was an incredibly bored kid and had a lot of time to memorize all of this information, most of which I still remember to this day. I never memorized statistics because any normal fan can memorize stats.  I was his future wife! I needed to know about his personal life, duh. When he hosted SNL in 2001, I taped it on VHS and watched it so many times that I can still recite every line from every sketch he was in. “He looks like if the Rock had sex with a muppet.” Classic. (Sidenote: Shakira ad BubbaSparxx were the musical guests, so 2001). My room was filled with Jeter posters and newspaper covers. One year for Christmas, I got a life size Jeter cardboard cutout that still stands in the corner of my childhood bedroom because I can’t stand to part with it. I started a Jeter scrapbook full of headlines and articles to show my future grandkids. I have a vivid memory of one time when a friend tore up a poster of Jeter in front of me and I cried. I CRIED. 

    Oh, so many tears have been shed over #2. Before a game at Yankee Stadium once, I stood along the first baseline where he warms up and could’ve SWORN he looked over at me. We made eye contact. In a sea of thousands of fans, his eyes found mine… I’m pretty sure. Anyway, I cried. (My dad witnessed this and still teases me about it). When my sister met him in a bar in Manhattan, I was so jealous, I cried. It just wasn’t fair!! How dare she be a hip adult while I sit, underage, in my friend’s basement watching The Incredibles. Then, the next day, when she gave me a bar napkin with his autograph made out to me, I cried again. (She still makes fun of me for this as well). I’ve given my sister a lot over the years, but I will forever be indebted to her for a bar napkin. 

    It was somewhere in the mid-2000s when I entered the next stage of my Jeter obsession. I was finally growing more mature. I started accepting the fact I may not marry Derek after all, and I was okay with it (I guess, whatever). I remember taking one of many tours of the old Yankee Stadium when I overheard a guy pointing out a spot in the dugout to his young son. “That’s where Derek Jeter sits”. I was so blinded by my obsession that I didn’t even stop to realize that outside of my own mind, Jeter was becoming something of a Yankee legend. My dad always raved about what a legend Mantle was, and now here I am, experiencing the Mickey Mantle of my generation! (without the severe alcoholism issues…).

    I like to think that this was the point I joined the rest of the sane people who admired Jeter in a healthy, Yankee-fan kind of way. Once you recognize how rare a player like Jeter is, your appreciation shifts. There’s been enough talk about it over the past year so I’m not going to get into that. I understand people get fed up. There are non-Jeter fans out there, like my Phillies fan boyfriend, who has rolled his eyes every time anything revolving around Jeter has come on television or into conversation. I get it. It’s the same reason why I can’t get into football. Because god forbid I do anything else on a Sunday while NFL fanatics are screaming about how amazing Sunday Funday and football is. So I assume that’s how a lot of people feel about Derek Jeter’s lavish retirement tour. And sure, we could argue about his career and whether or not he’s the best shortstop ever, but that’s not what I’m trying to get into here. 

    His last home game in the Bronx was rough for all Jeter fans. I stayed late at work in fear of missing out on any precious moments while driving home so I watched it on my computer with tears in my eyes for the last 3 innings straight and sobbed like a baby when it ended. Every time the camera cut to Derek’s family I thought to myself, “Oh, there’s his mom, Dorothy, and his sister Sharlee. And of course Dr. Charles Jeter, too.” Laughing at myself as I thought about the 13 year old version of me. My dad called me as soon as the game was over to make sure I was okay and, like it typically does, our conversation shifted back to baseball and as we shared our predictions for this year’s World Series matchup. 

    If you know me at all, you know I couldn’t not say something about Derek Jeter before this was all over. My Jeter obsession has become something like an extension of my personality. People who knew me in high school jokingly texted me recently to say they’ve been thinking of me as all the Jeter hype winds down. My boyfriend has tried to keep my feet on the ground when I start gushing over Jeter but I refuse. “Just let it happen!” I yell. 

    And well, I guess that’s it. He’s always been there and now he won’t be. Someone else will have to play shortstop next year and frankly I feel kinda bad for that guy. Whether it’s Stephen Drew or Troy Tulowitzki, their performance will never compare. I’m pretty excited to dust off that old scrapbook I started when I was a kid and tell my children all about the Derek Jeter era. Maybe they’ll even ask me what his hat size was. 

  2. My Marcia Brady Moment

    The only bone I’ve ever broken was my nose. It was my senior year of high school, two days before senior prom. My dress was going to be yellow, I was going to style my hair to the side and take pictures at Bobby’s house with all my besties before loading onto our party bus to the Banquet Hall. 

    But I was on the Softball team and we had practice every day after school. On this particular day, I was catching our starting pitcher in the outfield as she was warming up. I wasn’t wearing a mask for 3 reasons: I never did, I know how to catch a damn ball, and I’m not a wimp! So naturally, the universe decided to teach me a lesson. 

    Our starting pitcher, Melissa, decided not to tell me that one of her first warm up pitches was going to be a killer rise ball, so instead of following the basic rules of catching a ball, I was unprepared for the fast moving softball to break upward, and it hit me right smack in the shnoz. 

    I often think that if the ball had hit an inch left or right, it would’ve hit me in my eyeball and who knows what would’ve been the result. If it was a couple inches lower, it would’ve surely knocked out my teeth. So I suppose getting me exactly on the bridge of my nose was a good thing, though that was not what was going through my mind once I heard that snap of bone break.

    The impact didn’t hurt at first, but I immediately started gushing blood from both my nostrils as well as from the nice little slash I had where the ball hit my face. I covered my face as my coach and the team began to run over to me. Next thing I know, I’m sitting in the outfield grass, spitting blood out of my mouth because the taste made me shiver. It tasted like dirty pennies. I am shivering now at the thought of it.

    I was particularly proud of myself at this moment because 1. I wasn’t crying and 2. I managed to make a joke about how I’ll need to get another prom dress to match the swelling and bruising. All my teammates laughed (I may have chuckled at my own humor as well). The universe was going to make me pay for that one later. I was shuffled into the school’s trainer’s office where all the football players dwelled and because of this, I felt SUPER cool. This feeling lasted roughly three minutes before my concussion came on full blast. Little did I know, this was the beginning of an entire evenings worth of excruciating pain. My head began to thump harder than I’ve ever experienced and I felt nauseous as hell. This is what I get for making the world’s wittiest joke in the midst of bloodshed. It felt like hours before my dad arrived to take me to the hospital.

    Sparing some dirty details, I had four 1 inch needles put into my face to numb the pain (ouch), followed by a plastic surgeon snapping my nose back in place (super ouch). As soon as he said, “I’m going to have to snap your nose back in place,” I screamed like hell. As soon as I heard the snap, the screaming stopped because I could breathe again and it was glorious. This guy for sure hated me. I wonder if he ever got his hearing back.

    That night, after a sweet call from my team hearing they won our game, I had to sleep sitting up to prevent choking if my nose were to start bleeding in my sleep. Basically, I’ve never been lovelier. I also had a small trail of stitches on my face for senior prom - forever to be logged in photos and joked about for years to come. I was at school the next day, where my friends may have placed bets on how bruised my face would be, but somehow I wasn’t bruised or swollen at all. I think some people were disappointed. The universe is one funny son of a bitch. 

    image

    Here’s a charming photo that my dad snatched right before needles were stuck into my face.

  3. Light My Fire

    As I was growing up, I heard a lot of (what is now) Classic Rock music courtesy of my dad - The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Queen, etc. But what stuck with me the most was, for whatever reason, The Doors. My sister and I both have a very strange love for Jim Morrison and his bizarre behavior and brooding lyrics. Ever since I was in High School (when I was old enough to actually decode what Jim was singing about) The Doors have been my all-time favorite band. People typically either love or hate their music. They have a weird, dark sound and I understand that that signature organ sound can make someones ears bleed. There are very few friends I can blast The Doors with, and Lord knows no guy I’ve ever dated has appreciated them as I do. So I’ve shared my affinity mainly with my sister and dad, when we all sent each other a text when we found out Ray Manzarek passed, or when I was too excited for a John Densmore book signing at Amoeba Records because it would be a great gift for Father’s Day.

    *Side story: I failed. Just as I walked in the door, they sold the last book & spot in line and I started crying in the middle of the store. This wasn’t very long ago, but I have no shame. 

    I could write a very long post about The Doors, but this isn’t about them. It’s about the time I finally got to pretend I was seeing The Doors live. When The Doors of the 21st Century were touring in the early 2000s, I wasn’t able to get tickets for whatever reason. I have been cheated of the opportunity to see Jim Morrison live (seeing as I was born a solid 17 years after he died). When I moved to Los Angeles (birthplace of The Doors), I needed to see Peace Frog, a Doors tribute band in Venice. My boyfriend, Brian, offered to come with me, clearly unknowing of what he was getting himself into. 

    We arrive at Venice Bistro as the band was starting. Faux Jim is kinda lucky that real Jim got a little chunkier in his later years. The vibe in at the bar was pretty low key. The sun was still beaming and it was still a all out beach day, so like, chill man. We sat at the bar and ordered food and drinks. I have a feeling Brian thought this is how the whole night would be - us calmly sitting at the bar with a few beers, listening to the faux Doors. Au contraire. 

    One hour later, we were both up and standing in the small square of a dance floor, easily the youngest people there. Something happened to me that I don’t think Brian has ever witnessed. I went full on hippie. I was swaying back and forth to the music and singing along loudly. I think it’s safe to say I was on imaginary acid. I was basically worshipping a cover band. A COVER BAND. Again, no shame, but yikes. The show started at 4 pm and now it was close to 10 o’clock but the band was still rockin’. By then, there were about three 60-year-old men and two older women left flowing free on the dance floor. Oh, and us. Granted, The Doors only produced so much music in the short years before Jim’s death, but by now the tribute band had long since started repeating most of the classics. It was at the start of the 3rd encore of “When the Music’s Over” that Brian was forced to pull the plug. Also because the sun was now down on the Venice boardwalk, and that place gets dicey as hell at night. He pulled me out of my 1969 vortex and just like that, we were gone. The echo of “Light My Fire” was growing more faint as we walked closer to the car. 

    I haven’t gone back to see Peace Frog, though I’d love to take my dad and sister there one day. I wouldn’t ask Brian to go back with me since he described the experience as “kinda scary on many levels.”

  4. Say Yes to the Dress

    A good friend of mine, Tina, is getting married this year and being that her family is across the country, I offered to go dress shopping with her and another girl. If you know me, you know I was born without the gene that gives you the jollies over crying at the perfect wedding dress or bridal showers or anything of the sort. It’s all fun and people enjoy it and that’s great. But I’ll admit that I’m pretty quick to roll my eyes and call it cheesy. Don’t get me wrong, I plan on getting married one day, but if I ever walk into David’s Bridal and hear the word ‘princess’, I’m walking out.

    My friend quickly responded to my offer with tickets to a Bridal Expo the following weekend. Before I knew it, I was deep into this commitment. I was about to attend a Bridal Expo, full of hundreds of dresses and future brides, ripping dress out of each other’s hands. I eased up when I found out that the event was donating 80% of its sales to Breast Cancer Research, so how cheesy could it be?

    We walked in the room to line dancing. Yes, there was a DJ with a microphone directing a dance floor of about 25 brides through a line dance. Tina immediately joined in, true to form. It made for a good vibe, but I was quick to decline and hold her bags on the sideline instead. “Let’s get our brides up here for a little dance contest!!!” the DJ said, followed by a roar of “Wooo!!!!” I wish someone could’ve taken a picture of my face at that moment. After the contest commenced (my girl didn’t win), the DJ explained the so-called “rules” of the event as we all dispersed into the rows of wardrobe racks. There may as well have been a blow horn to start the race. Somehow, when we were told to Go, something inside me clicked and I was in full bridal mode. Tina delegated her instructions to us and soon I was on a mission to bring her every single dress I possibly could to have her try on. I may or may not have stepped on a few feet or knocked someone over, but I didn’t care. I grabbed ivory dresses, white dresses, sweetheart necklines, halter tops, even detachable dresses and brought them to our coveted dressing room in the back (there were only about 6 private rooms, otherwise, you’re all out there in the open). We squeezed into the tiny, makeshift dressing room to take pictures of each dress and give our two cents.

    "It makes your boobs look droopy."

    "It makes you look like a hippie."

    "That’s something my grandmother might wear."

    It was really quite hilarious. 

    With no luck after about eight dresses, we decided to start over. We grabbed about four more dresses and tried them out in the open along with many other women searching for their dresses. It had only been about an hour since we arrived at that point, but Tina had on a beautiful dress that looked amazing on her. We all knew it was “the one” because she kept it on about 30 minutes longer than any other dress she tried on that morning. Our volunteer, Jessica, was helping us take photos, giving Tina pointers on how to do her hair and sharing stories of her and her own boyfriend’s plans on getting married. She was a sweet girl who was volunteering her precious Saturday helping crazed, ruthless women find a dress they’re wearing for one day. She was basically our bestie and I’d be surprised if she’s not invited to the wedding. Once Tina declared that she was going to “say yes to the dress” (we heard that a lot that day), Jessica asked if she should get the bell. If you’re not familiar with wedding dress shopping, once a bride decides she’s buying a dress, an employee rings a bell and everyone else in the store claps and cheers. Before this moment, I vowed I’d never take part in this and prayed that Tina wouldn’t want to do it herself. Jessica made it as far as “Should I get the -” before I screamed, “GET THE BELL!” in overexcitement. I gloried in all the surrounding brides clapping and awing her, being weirdly proud to be her friend.  Then, a man in a tux came over to us, gave Tina a bouquet and took her to the middle of the dance floor where the DJ announced, “And we have another bride who said yes to the dress!” As with every other bride, he asked her, “What do you love about this dress that made you pick it?” Let me just say this is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard because, as you might’ve guessed, every single one of those women responded with, “EVERYTHING!!” LOLOLOLOLOLOL. Then more dancing and picture taking. Before I knew it, I was telling a nearby Latina woman named Sophia that her dress was “so pretty,” practically with tears in my eyes. This was when I decided I truly didn’t recognize myself, and as Tina was paying, I stepped outside to regain my composure. As soon as I found the complimentary (I hope?) coffee and pastry spread, I was back to myself again. It felt great. We left, high on the accomplishment that comes with buying something you really set out for. I’m sure this high escaped Tina once she brought her dress to a tailor to get fitted and was slapped with a hefty bill, but I was still excited for her. 

    If you find yourself or a friend searching for a wedding dress, check out Brides Against Breast Cancer. They have events all over the country, with thousands of inexpensive gowns that are apparently designer brands. We discovered this from the tailor who exclaimed, “You only paid that much for a Casablanca?!” Shrug. Plus, your sales go toward a great cause!

  5. Labor Day

    One of my favorite parts of growing up in New Jersey was our BBQs. We had a great pool, a huge deck and a nice yard to have friends and family over, and it was always marvelous. So when I made plans to visit home Labor Day Weekend to meet my new (painfully adorable) nephew, I was excited to find out my mom was throwing a family BBQ. 

    It’s impressive how quickly I’ve unadapted to the humidity on the East Coast. I was admittedly a giant baby about how sticky and humid it was the entire weekend because I am now in Southern California where it’s hot as hell, but you don’t immediately start sweating because it’s dry and bearable. I do this exact same thing in the winter when it’s below 45 degrees and have to wear a winter coat. Anyway, it was probably about 90 degrees, but with humidity it felt like 110. The air conditioning in my parent’s house broke in the beginning of the summer and was never fixed. I think I speak for everyone when I say, I wish there was a disclaimer on the invite because it was too damn hot. I couldn’t tell if it was cooler inside or outside. Everyone was forced onto the sunny deck, where there was no shade. My handy father decided to pull out an old patio umbrella and makeshift some shade to help with the heat and everyone was as content as you can be when you’re already drenched in sweat.

    The day went on. The food was wonderful. The beer was leftover from a previous party, but no one seemed to notice (except for me because it was Sam Adams Winter Ale, c’mon). By midday, the sun dipped behind the trees and mostly everyone was out on the deck, around the patio table, chatting. Out of nowhere, with no wind blowing, the umbrella tipped over and shattered the entire glass tabletop. There was that second of silence when everyone takes in what just happened. I was in shock. My father just stared and nodded his head. Everyone else started to slowly process the damage and realize the glass had cut their feet and legs. Fortunately, no one was badly injured, but I took the opportunity to shine as first responder. I scoured every bathroom cabinet for first aid supplies and came up with 5 alcohol swabs and a torn box of gauze. I got back outside to aid my victims only to see my poor boyfriend, Brian, sucking up mounds of shattered glass with a dusty power-vac. (Every time he comes to my house, someone puts him to work. It’s a miracle he even visits with me anymore.) My dad was pushing glass through the openings in the deck with a snow shovel. At this moment it starts to rain, because of course it does, and everyone steps inside to now watch Brian cleaning up the mess. 

    Thirty minutes later, everyone is bandaged, dry, and recovered as Brian steps into the living room, toweling off and says, “I think I’m ready for another round,” which I think pretty much sums up the entire day.

    All in all, I may have had too high expectations for this rare BBQ, but it was certainly memorable. 

  6. A Hefty Thai Massage

    For whatever reason, I’ve gone my whole life without getting a massage. This has been a major downfall which I recently conquered along with my boyfriend, Brian. What a trooper. 

    Just before the holidays, Brian and I found a good ol’ Groupon for a couples Thai massage in Hollywood. The package included aromatherapy AND a glass of champagne. Well I was sold. We purchased the deal despite our mutual hesitation. We were massage virgins being thrown to the wolves also known as those limber Thai masseuses. 

    The day came like it was Christmas and I was super excited to work out some particular neck pain I was having, but nonetheless, still a bit rattled. True to form, the thai massage place was appropriately tucked behind a couple bars and restaurants on Hollywood Boulevard and up some gangly stairs. But once we opened the door, we were met with calm music and pleasant aromatherapy. You’d think this would make us feel better, but instead we both grew more nervous.

    Let it be known that from the get go, Brian and I were fully aware that this entire scenario was and would be absurdly funny.

    Some very nice ladies took our shoes in exchange for that precious glass of peach champagne and escorted us back to our beds. Once left alone, Brian and I exchanged nervous laughter. 

    The next hour was interesting. At first, I was so taken aback at what was happening that I couldn’t even meet Brian’s gaze in fear I’d burst out in laughter. I mean, there was a small woman literally sitting on me. Her entire body weight was on me. Her knees digging into my rump cheeks. I had no idea this is what would happen. I guess we should’ve done our research because apparently it’s a thing. Whatever.

    Eventually, the awkwardness subsided and I was able to enjoy having another person crack/pound/rub every inch of my body. Whenever I began to feel insecure I thought about how anyone in the business of rubbing up on strangers get grossed out by much worse than me (I’d hope). Overall it was something I’d definitely do again. Maybe one day I’ll opt for a normal massage. I hear that’s much tamer and perhaps I’ll actually be able to look that masseuse in the eye afterward. 

  7. Piercing Pagoda

     I don’t often wear jewelry and never pictured myself waking up in the morning picking out earrings. I grew up a tomboy and despite my older sister’s best efforts, I still don’t quite care for everyday jewelry. Unlike most girls, I did not get my ears pierced unknowingly as an infant or even as a middle schooler with my girlfriends at Claires. Instead, I was a 22-year-old woman on a stool in the middle of the mall, at the Piercing Pagoda, getting those baby studs the color of my birthstone shot into my lobes.

    When you’re in a relationship around the holidays, the idea of what your boyfriend or girlfriend got you is super exciting and also terrifying. During this particular Christmas season, me and my boyfriend at the time were chatting in the hallway between classes when I suddenly saw a look of utter terror on his face. I asked him what was wrong, to which he replied, “You don’t have your ears pierced?”. I laughed it off, not thinking that this kid really paid such little attention to detail.

    Later on in class, the question hit me like a brick as I nervously asked my friends if I was seriously about to incur an awkward gift exchange in my near future. They didn’t even try to reassure me - I was getting earrings for ears that weren’t pierced. The following week, I was trying to mentally prepare myself, as well as mask my disappointment. Finally, while drunk at a party, this ex-boyfriend of mine admitted he got me a beautiful pair of earrings because he didn’t realize I didn’t have my ears pierced. How sweet, right? He also claimed to not have the receipt anymore. How shady, right? Welp, I guess I was getting my ears pierced after all. I normally wouldn’t have been so sympathetic, but I wanted a goddamn present. Judging how the relationship inevitably ended, I doubt he would’ve offered up something else anyway. In his (only) defense, the earrings were gorgeous. 

    My sister had finally gotten her way. As did my mother, adorably stating that earrings would “feminize me”. Sissy walked me to the Piercing Pagoda, half against my will, to finally get my ears pierced. The lovely woman working there seemed just as appalled as my sister that I was 22 and not pierced. Salt in the wound, lady. 

    Weeks later after my precious wounds healed, I finally popped in those nonrefundable, pretty earrings just to make that kid happy. No, it wasn’t that bad, but to this day I still have a hard time getting earrings in because I often go weeks without wearing any. I guess I just can’t be feminized. 

  8. Good Charlotte

    The moment before a band or musician gets inconveniently famous is always great to look back on (see: I’ll never see a Mumford & Sons show the way I have in the past again). It’s like the calm before the storm. This is where Good Charlotte was when I was in Middle School, in my regrettable preppy-punk phase. My sister was attending Rutgers and heard of a free Good Charlotte show on their campus. Obviously, I felt super cool having an older sister in college willing to take her 12-year-old sister and her friends to a Good Charlotte show. Rad!!

    So we arrived at Rutgers and some unknown band I don’t even recall was playing. Just kidding they were named “Tokyo Rose”. Did they ever become something? I also specifically remember wearing a Roxy t-shirt on this day. Cool. Aaaanyway, I finally spot Joel and here was my reaction:

    Spotted him. Face turned red. Eyes swell with tears. Turn my back to him. Cover my face. Start walking backwards. Back into him.

    I so wish someone had this on video. The poor guy probably felt so amazingly awkward and ashamed that this idiot was a fan of his music. We took an awkward picture together: him with a half smile and me with my face and eyes red. We had one of those 2001 cameras that was really bulky, had a shoulder strap and actual film that you had to put in yourself. 

    After this excruciating moment, my friend Katie and I continued walking around, taking pictures and getting autographs from Good Charlotte before they went on. We went up to who we thought was the drummer and chatted him up for a while. Being 12, we obviously developed a crush on him and thinking back, he was a creep. We then approached Benji, got his autograph and picture, then asked him where the drummer was. Benji had no idea who we were describing or naming, so I’m thinking he was just a pervert  college student chatting up middle schoolers and giving out autographs like he’s somethin’! What a fool. 

    The show went on, the crowd was small and intimate. We had a blast. A few days later when we went to get our precious photos developed, we learned that since we didn’t put the film in correctly, only a few pictures of us with the band survived. I cried again, thinking this was the end of my world. IF I COULD ONLY TURN BACK TIME!, I whimpered. What did survive? My precious photo of Joel. One day, I’ll find that photo, scan it and show the world, but for now, imagine that gem all on your own. 

  9. Deep in the Heart of Texas

    When my sister and I drove across country, one of the many cities we visited was San Antonio, Texas. We never made any hotel reservations along our trip and it was never a problem. So when we arrived in San Antonio, strolled and explored. After dinner, we lackadaisically get around to searching for a hotel to stay in. Apparently there was a hoppin’ event that night, so all hotels in the immediate area were booked. Growing a bit concerned, we ventured out of the city a bit and lowered our standards. I finally convinced my sister to check into a Motel 6, since I was getting irrationally worried and it was getting later and later. It was (obviously) cheap, and seemingly decent enough for a quick 5 hour sleep. 

    This night has been marked as a major life lesson. That lesson being, don’t ever stay at a Motel 6. The room was what you’d see in a horror movie. There were weird stains, beds that look like they’ve seen a few hookers, and sketchy ass people. We both slept on top of the sheets, on top of towels. I slept with my sweatshirt and hoodie on. I don’t think I’ve ever slept so still in my life. I awoke a couple times in the middle of the night to people screaming and running past our window. “You better get off my property!!!”. Oh dear God. This was a time in my life where I thought I was finally going to die a really dumb, idiotic death all because I was sleepy & cheap. My sister would survive only to hold a grudge against me the rest of her life for forcing her to check in at a roadside Motel just outside of San Antonio. 

    The morning came and we were both still alive and unharmed. We awoke to what sounded like a mouse scurrying around our wooden floors. My sis and I jumped onto the same bed and sat frozen, waiting to see a giant mouse run across the floor laughing at us 2 idiots for taking shelter on a dirty, probably disease ridden bed. We finally bolted and were on our way to the next city on our tour without ever looking back.

    See ya never, San Antonio.

  10. Desperate Elfing

    Dating as far back as I can remember, my mother’s company in New York City held an annual Christmas party that she brought me to every year. It was the most wonderful, amazing, happy place. They turned an entire floor into rooms filled with arts & crafts, juggling acts, animal balloons & food and I was head over heels for all of it. I used to have a mini, pre-adolescent crush on one of the jugglers just because he was funny. He was middle aged and probably had kids older than me, but age is an illusion when you’re 7 years old. Before the party, it became tradition for us to stop by the Macy’s Christmas display on the way to her building and walk through “Winter Wonderland”. There was fake snow, wooden soldiers and tiny Christmas villages with trains running through. This still remains a precious memory that I won’t soon forget. 

    But we all have to grow up sometime.

    As I got older, it became clearer and clearer that I was “gettin’ too old for this shit”. The arts & crafts became too simple, the jugglers’ rehearsed jokes didn’t make me giddy, and the food started to taste like the cafeteria food that it indeed was. I tried to deny this, but there came a year that it had become inevitable. 

    I was about 12 years old, and that wonderful time of year was coming around. I asked my mom about the party, but even she knew I had reached my prime as soon as I hit the double digits. In a desperate attempt to hold onto one of my favorite childhood memories, I offered to be an elf.

    Obviously, there was always a spot for pictures on Santa’s lap. I offered to dress up as one of Santa’s Elves that takes your picture. I figured this was my ultimate loophole to continue coming to the party. I could do this for a few more years and become a valuable part of the party. Did I get paid? Not with money, but with laughs. 

    Apparently being an elf isn’t cool, at least it wasn’t before Will Farrell did it (now it’s totally happenin’). They gave me the works: pointy shoes, green pants/jacket and a hat. I felt good about it at first, but after an hour I kept getting heckled by these spoiled little brats who were in their own prime age to enjoy this party. It simply wasn’t my time anymore. I spent the next 4 hours with a sour look on my face taking polaroids of kids I was insanely jealous of.

    As per tradition, we did stop by Macy’s beforehand to see “Winter Wonderland”, except they changed the entire display for the new millenium. Instead of everything wonderfully wintertime, there were robots and cyborgs and electronics and I HATED IT! I’m getting a little worked up right now just thinking about it. With this as the start of my day and laughing children ending it, this was officially the year Christmas was ruined for me. 

    And I was never an Elf again.

  11. Twist & Shout

    When I was about 4 years old, we went on a family vacation to Disney World. We returned with loads of precious home videos, including a moment where I scream “You f*ck!” into the camera. This is the time in my life that explains why I do something dumb whenever a camera is pointed at me. The best VHS tape we got out of this family vacay was a music video of us singing ‘Twist & Shout’ by The Beatles. It was a very tacky video with a crappy green screen, but hey, it was 1992 after all. I don’t remember the making of the video, but I’ve watched it enough times in my life to play it back in my sleep. 

    It is 3 minutes of this:

    On drums - my older sister. She was sick and probably embarrassed of us. Unenthusiastically schlepping the drumsticks across with absolutely no stage presence. We obviously kicked her out of the band after this performance. 

    On tambourine #1 - my mom. With her 80’s perm and kickin’ dance moves,not really banging along to the beat, but also, we were just lip syncing anyway).

    Lead singer - my dad. He was clearly in his prime, just completely jamming out. 

    Side note: Until I was about 11 years old, I thought my dad was actually singing and bragged to my friends about his cool singing voice.

    And finally me, in all my glory, hopping around the stage waving tambourine #2 in the air like there is no tomorrow. Probably with no awareness or care for absolutely anything going on around me. Rockin them OshKosh B’gosh corduroy overalls till ‘94. 

    When I asked each of my former bandmates exactly what year we traveled to Disney, these are the responses I received…

    Me: “What year did we go to Disney World?”

    Dad: “During the first Gulf War” (1991) Aaalways trying to teach me something.

    Mom: “1992”

    Sister: “Well I was in 6th grade, so 91ish. 91 or 92.”

    We are not the best with timelines. But I do think it was 1992.

  12. The time I was on TV with Bill Cosby

    The only time in my life I felt like my body was getting violated was when I was interning for a local morning talk show in Philadelphia. They were doing a segment about body shaping clothing. At the last minute, one of the models dropped out, so the producers rushed into the intern bullpen to see if one of us was willing to fill in. The other girls were too shy, and I quite frankly didn’t care that all of 10 people in Philly were going to see me on TV. As soon as I consented, I was handed a spandex/jockstrap contraption the size of my fist that was designed to lift your butt cheeks. After I put it on, I had trouble breathing and immediately regretted volunteering. Picture when you squeeze a balloon animal and the other ends get plump. I felt like a balloon animal. The producers looked at me with disappointment that my bum didn’t get any nicer looking. This device was designed for skinny girls with no curves and in desperate measures, they got me.

    The Russian woman who brought the butt lifter to the show took one look at me and shouted in her thick accent that I had it on wrong and dragged me to the bathroom before I can even question how that’s physically possible. She was quick to stick her icy cold hands down my pants and adjust my spandex/jockstrap. It felt like when as a kid your mom tucks in your shirt to your pants and you can’t stand still so you just wobble and cringe until it’s over. When it was over, I stood still and silent. A little bit shocked, and a little bit amused.

    I distinctly remember what she did next. She washed her hands. And for some bizarre reason I was slightly offended by this, but I guess if she didn’t wash her hands that’d be pretty heinous.

    So I finally appeared in front of a live studio audience with my butt lifters on correctly. They had me in an awkward pose as they showed the before and after photos of my rump. Except it more looked like a picture where you need to find the minor differences in each. My butt didn’t look too much plumper or more lifted, which is something I had accepted when I was a teenager.

    Bill Cosby was a guest on the show that day. Ever since then I have bragged that I was on a tv show with Bill Cosby. Butt lifters and all.

  13. Middle School Fashion

    Everyone’s middle school fashion choices were beyond questionable. It’s a shame no one warned us at the time, but fortunately it all makes for fun stories (and lame blog posts, AM I RIGHT?) However, thinking back to some of my favorite outfits makes me wonder (again) why my mother let me out of the house.

    I used to love Delia’s clothing store. It is a haven for graphic tees and Hello Kitty apparel. It’s still around, but it’s not really cool after you’ve turned 14 unless you’re a cast member of Pretty Little Liars. Most of my wardrobe when I was in 6th grade came from Delia’s. Now it mostly comes from Old Navy or Target (this is another thing I wish I could’ve warned 12 year old version of me). One of my favorite tees was a baby blue shirt that was too big for my body that read: “boy [boi] n. see pet” and I loved it shamelessly. It was my way of telling all the boys in school who showed zero interest in me that I was too good for them, anyway!

    Then there was my “All Stars” shirt. This one was a very fitted tee, styled like a baseball jersey with “All Stars” written in cursive on the front, and the number 69 on the back, 69 on the front and 69 on each shoulder. I obviously didn’t catch the innuendo at the time, and neither did my mom, who kept reiterating how cute it looked on me. I was so naive about sexual things that that year I told a classmate I didn’t want to be friends with her anymore because she took her shirt off in front of a boy.

    I’ve written before about my parents’ few questionable parenting decisions as I was growing up, and this next shirt should’ve been added to that post. It was a fitted green shirt with lots of glittery letters saying “Open 24 Hours” across my chest. I mean… come on. When the 8th grade girls gave me dirty looks, I thought they were just admiring my wavy, unkempt hair. When the 8th grade boys eyed me down, I figured they thought me and my crooked front teeth were HOT.

    I’m really not entirely sure if my parents honestly didn’t catch why it was inappropriate for a 6th grader to be wearing this, or if they sent me off to school laughing behind my back at their sick joke, but either way, I thank them for this memory.

  14. Club Giggles

    When I’m low on money and reach my acceptance of staying home on a Saturday night, only 2 texts can get me out of bed…

    1) “Wanna go to Yogurtland?”

    or

    2) “Wanna go dancing?”

    This is a story about #2.

    My friend Tina asked me to go dancing and without any specifics, I accepted due to the aforementioned financial issues and loads of stress I’ve been dealing with lately. I figured Tina, who is pretty wholesome and loves dancing, would deliver a good time. It was her friend’s birthday and we were meeting her at a place in Glendale.

    We approached Club Giggles and quickly saw it was a Latino dance club. I don’t panic, because I’ve frequently been asked if I was Hispanic in the past, so I figured I was cool. Once stepping into Giggles, I realized being mistaken for Hispanic in a white suburb of New Jersey is waaaaaaaaaaay different than in Southern California.

    Although it was early in the night, it was definitely not early enough for the dance floor to be unoccupied, so my innocent and wholesome friend Tina mentions that her and I should start “representing America on the dance floor”. I reminded her that we are all American (well, most… probably). So, unaware of the Latino dance floor etiquette, we sideline it until someone more appropriate initiates. Then, here comes Carlos.

    I think of every excuse in the book to not go dance (“I’m not drunk enough yet, I’m not a good dancer”, “I’m too white”, “I’m scared”) but he didn’t seem to care. He pulled me onto the dance floor and started pulling veteran salsa moves. While Carlos dances, I try to start awkward, nervous small talk. Finally he informs me that he doesn’t speak good English. “Great!” I yell. He asked if I speak Spanish. I was going to tell him about how I only know the word ‘mantequilla’ but only because of my experience at Carrabbas and always having to ask the Mexican line cooks for a side of butter, but I figured he wouldn’t find it amusing. So we danced.

    Eventually the dance floor filled and Tina and I got our groove on with her friend and her group of adorable mamacitas. I didn’t recognize or understand a lick of the music that was playing, but it was damn catchy. I went along with the creepy line of men on the sidelines that were drooling at all the women and taking pictures on their phones, but for some reason at Club Giggles, it was acceptable.

    When the girls asked if we wanted to go downstairs to Hip Hop, I felt overwhelmed with joy and relief. Thank God! Someone give me some Jay-Z, LMFAO, Rihanna, anything. But no. It was the exact same music as upstairs. The DJ could’ve been yelling “All the white people here have herpes!” and I WOOed in agreement.

    Overall, it was a fun, and much needed, night out for me. I learned that no matter what race or ethnicity, we can all get together and dance like no ones watching.

    Ew. Kidding. I learned a few things actually…

    - I’ve never in my life gotten hit on by a white guy like I do with black or Hispanic men.

    - Latino women drink very colorful cocktails and look at you funny when you ask for whiskey.

    - Shakira is still pretty prominent in that community.

    - At least we didn’t stand out as much as that chubby, Asian girl wearing cuffed capris dancing alone in the corner.

  15. Firenze

    When most people go camping, they are usually mentally prepared and do it voluntarily. When most broke college students search for hostels in a foreign country, they look at the fine print and do follow up research on said hostel. Me and my travel companion did none of the above, thus landing in a campground in Florence.

    This alleged hostel on top of the Campo d’Michaelangelo in Florence, Italy was said to have amazing views of the city (true), a great atmosphere for young travelers (true) and private spaces with beds (whatever, I guess technically true). After climbing up a huge hill to get to what we thought was going to be a big, beautifully constructed cathedral-turned-hostel, we arrived upon a campground. A legit campground.

    The only buildings present were the lobby/internet room and the bathhouse. Young teenagers and 20-somethings were walking around in bathing suits with no shoes on, blasting music. It was basically Italian Woodstock for Americans.

    The “concierge” directed us towards our “space” - a tent with 2 cots and a fake hardwood floor platform. Since we figured we’d be sightseeing and exploring all day, we weren’t too concerned with our amenities. But after a long day of walking and stuffing our faces with vino and pasta, we returned to our tent (musica still blasting) exhausted.

    The walk to the toilets, sinks and baths was a good 15 minute walk up a dirt path. Then of course, like any tourist attraction, there was an obnoxious line. My pee dance reached new levels that day. Finally, we get back to the tent and realize there is no electricity. Since I forgot my candle lantern, I was stuck with just a tiny, tiny, tiny book light as my only source of light for the rest of the night. Also, to add insult to injury, I didn’t sleep because it was summer so it was humid as hell and bugs everywhere. 2 nights. We lived like savages in Florence.

    Do I recommend this “hostel” to anyone? I do because then you’d have a really great story to come home with. However, bring the following toiletries: bug spray, a candle and/or a lantern, a battery powered AM/FM radio, a bed pan, some sort of fan or portable air conditioning unit and good sneakers that you never plan on wearing again.