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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?”
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.
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.
Today while I was walking with 2 coworkers to get lunch, a little kid jumped in front of us on the sidewalk and growled/screamed/snarled. Who knows. While my coworkers laughed at the adorable boy with curly blonde hair, I rolled my eyes and wanted to tell it to get out of my way. This prompted me to think about my experiences with children and why I’m not a kid person.
I assume my natural maternal instincts and basic human desire to reproduce will pop up eventually, but apparently not today. I’m not very good with kids and I never have been. I feel the same excitement and awe over a puppy as normal people do over babies. Adults who speak “baby talk” to babies make me want to vomit. Surprisingly, I used to babysit. Not surprisingly (and gratefully), I only babysat twice.
My short lived babysitting career was in 7th grade. The first family I babysat for lived down the street from me. They had an infant and a 5 year old. I was 13. Let me just say I would never put my infant in the hands of a 13 year old. Anyway, after school I would mosey on over to this family’s house. The mother would feed me first, then let me watch TV for a little. Babysitting was awesome!
Me and the 5 year old would play games. Me - very unenthusiastically and her - too enthusiastically. Kids had all the energy in the world and I was over it. Not that I didn’t have a crazy imagination or didn’t like to play pretend, I just liked doing that in my own world, like where I was the 6th Spice Girl (Zazzy Spice) or owned my own nail salon.
This gig ended coincidentally the day after I accidentally poked the infant in the eye and while it was crying I told it to “shhhh”. I think they had a nanny cam.
My second and last babysitting job was at a neighbors Christmas party. The adults had their party upstairs, and I had to watch 7 rowdy children in the basement. I figured it’d be easy. They could all keep each other company.
No. These kids were monsters. Running up and down the stairs and climbing on furniture. They screamed for about an hour about wanting to watch a movie and by the time I got the “Toy Story” opening credits rolling, they got up and started running around again. For the rest of the night, I just sat on the couch, defeated and pissed off while they all chanted in unison, “No more babysitter!”
It was then that I decided to retire from babysitting. I figured I’d give the up and coming, more eager future babysitters a shot. That summer I got my first real job at a chocolate store. Now that was something I could find enthusiasm for.
Recently my father informed me that he has discovered my blog. Great! Now he knows where I live on the interweb. Since I’ve dedicated a couple posts in the past to my darling mother, I figured I’d share a particularly interesting story about good old dad. Dad, reach into your memory and come along on this journey with me…
My father and I spent a majority of the last 6 or 7 years going to weekly Yankee games. One Sunday, we decided to take the very reliable NJ Transit into New York. Most regular passengers know as rule of thumb 2 things: if you’re buying tickets on the train, it costs more money and you cannot pay with a bill higher than $20. To this day, I’m not sure if my dad just ignored these facts, or honestly wasn’t aware, but this is where our day went wrong.
The conductor came up to us and asked for our money. My dad tried to pay with a $50 and was denied. We then scavenged what money we had in our pockets to come up with our fare, but $1 short. My dad tried to barter and bargain his way into the sweet conductor’s heart by letting us slide with 1 less dollar than we owed, but apparently she too was having a lousy day. As you can assume, this is the part where we got kicked off the train just 1 stop past our station. We called my mom to save us, and we had to start the journey over again.
The car ride was great though. My dad was yelling about the conductor, my mom was yelling at my dad, and I was yelling, “BUT ARE WE STILL GOING TO THE GAME?!”
It only occurred to me years later why we never asked a fellow passenger to lend us a dollar, or ask 4 passengers for a quarter, and so on. My dad might have been too proud. And I get that. Even so, none of the other passengers on the train (who undoubtedly were listening to our dispute) kindly offered a dollar to a man and his daughter, obviously heading to a Yankee game.
Moral of the story? NJ Transit passengers are A-Holes (you’re welcome for the censorship, dad)
If you’re not familiar with North Jersey, you don’t know of the coolest place on the planet for children and science nerds. It’s called the Liberty Science Center. It’s an amazing place with a touch tunnel (which I’ve only just realized how much creepy shit probably went down in there), an observation deck, an IMAX theatre, and a whole bunch of other science projects that no 8-year-old will understand how it works, but it will keep your attention and that’s really all you need if you’re an adult.
Growing up in North Jersey, I was a frequent member of the LSC and went there about 3 times a month. If you’re wondering why I didn’t grow up to love science, I couldn’t tell you. I loved this place - until I decided to host a birthday party there.
Apparently the party planners at LSC were either a) lazy, b) sick fucks, c) complete idiots, or d) all of the above. Because when you contact LSC to have a birthday party for your young child and her “friends” (classmates) they think it’s a good idea to take a whole dead fish and have the children paint it and imprint that pattern onto a piece of construction paper. This is literally what happened at one of my LSC birthday parties.
Me, a couple of cousins and about 10 of my classmates were sent to the top floor of LSC to eat cake, and paint dead fish. I will remember every part of this birthday for the rest of my life for the sheer fact that even at my ripe young age, I thought it was fucked. I can’t imagine what my parents were thinking, or the parents of the kids who were at the party. I definitely lost some friends after this moment. But we all painted the dead fish, without any question, as if it were normal. I’m pretty sure all my classmates were scared shitless, my cousins were busy throwing the fish across the room, and my crazy Uncle kept saying “When do the kissing games start?” If you’re wondering how I grew up to be semi-normal, I couldn’t tell you that either.
Youth Hostels are really cheap, sometimes sketchy, but always fun places to stay when you’re young and traveling abroad. While studying abroad 3 years ago with my “then-boyfriend” (sounds more sophisticated than “ex”), we traveled to Rome, Italy. And the story begins…
We booked our beds at a semi-well reviewed Hostel in Rome. We arrived and walked to our hostel, exploring the beautiful landscape.
Footnote: besides the ancient landmarks and tourist attractions, Rome kind of looks like Newark, NJ.
We arrive at the address of said Hostel (I think it was called “Gold Star Rome” or something tacky). It was just a door. A door in the middle of a wall. Doorbell. Buzzed in without even verifying if I’m a serial killer or child rapist, or worse - young American travelers.
On the 3rd floor of a building was the allegedly named “Gold Star Rome” Hostel, with your host, some Italian guy with capris on. I forget his name, but he was short, bald and a little bit rude. Crazy, right?! For reference, we’ll call him Mike. So Mike shows us to our spacious room which held 2 beds, a TV and a dresser. It was all we really needed. We were happy. The entire 3rd floor consisted of this Hostel, and this entire Hostel consisted of 3 rooms. Ours, another room, and the owner’s room (which was actually an entire apartment squished into a tiny room). All over the place there were very threatening “No Smoking” signs. Both of us being non-smokers, we were pleased that this was the one place in all of Europe we didn’t have to smell cigarette smoke. But because it’s me and this story is on my blog, this no-smoking rule wasn’t the case. Mike chain smoked. All night and all day. Everywhere in the damn hostel. Apparently the sign should’ve read “No Smoking unless you own this hostel, BIATCH!!”
The first night was a breeze. We slept well, kept to ourselves, and there weren’t any other guests to be bothered by.
The second night was a different story. After a long day of looking at buildings that were falling down, we headed back to home sweet hostel around 11 p.m. I opened the door and there was a man in my bed (and not in a cool way). Um?!?!
We find a note from Mike that says (verbatim): “I MUST YOU MOVE TO ENOTHER ROOM!”
Oh, really, Mike? No shit. I’m not shacking up with some hairy, snoring man. If I wanted to do that, I’d call up another “then-boyfriend”.
Mike comes out and explains to us in his broken English that we must, in fact, move to another room, with nothing but 3 beds and yet ANOTHER snoring, hairy man. God dammit, Mike!
That night I slept in the top bunk, Snorey McSnorerson on the bottom bunk, and my travel buddy in another bed in the room. Excuse me, but where were all the fun American college kids who reviewed this place on hostels.com?! This place might have been a sick joke, but nevertheless it was certainly an adventure. The next day we packed up our duffles and peaced Roma without even looking back.
Next stop was Florence. Stay tuned for that one - because it’s a doozy.