UniGuide is dedicated to my mom and dad, because if it weren’t for them, this blog wouldn’t exist, or someone else’s kid would be doing it.

To My Dad, Eddie:

Because he has always believed, and lives by the code, that life is to be experienced.

Because it’s not enough for him to drive a convertible along the windy roads above the Amalfi Coast; he has to be singing “That’s Amoré” while my stepmom, Diane, laughs in the background and video tapes him.

Because he tortured my brothers and me when we were kids by dragging us around to modern art galleries on what seemed like every frigging Saturday, and then would take us to eating establishments like the Modern Pizzeria in New Rochelle, New York, which boasted hairs in the pizza crust, cigarette ashes on the plates, and lipstick stains on the glasses, because “places like that have character.”

Because he felt it was his fatherly duty to wake me up at 5am and get me to do a 150-foot SCUBA dive off the coast of Roatan, Honduras (including getting nitrogen narcosis on said dive), despite the fact that I had been up the entire night prior battling Montezuma’s Revenge and throwing up what felt like the entire contents of my torso (organs, ribs, and all) into the toilet.

Because in the 1970s, he took us to demolition derbies in the Astrodome in Houston and to dog races in El Paso – making sure we went to the races on Sunday because on Sundays, they put Rhesus monkeys in jockey outfits on the backs of the Greyhounds. (A spectacle of animal cruelty upon animal cruelty, for which now, thank God, I am old enough to donate to PETA to put an end to.)

Because he bought himself a pair of red velvet slipper-loafers and had his initials monogrammed on them in gold thread when he got his first decent-sized paycheck. (I say they were slipper-“loafers” because they had backs, and therefore, always carried with them the threat that they might, at some point, be worn in public.)

Because he has no problem yelling, “Get out! Get out!” to everyone at a dinner party so he can clean up the kitchen, no matter whose house it is.

And because he’s still asking when we’re going to Burning Man.

To My Mom, Ann:

Because her sense of humor and Irish wit (or something that I fear is genetic) compelled her to randomly pick us up from school wearing funny wigs and crazy makeup.

Because, despite traumatizing us with the wigs when we were little, as a teenager, when I shaved the hair off half my head and dyed the remaining half stop sign red, she sobbed uncontrollably.

Because when we played kickball in the street with the neighborhood kids, she had to play too.

Because she put a Chiquita Banana sticker in the middle of her forehead to make us laugh at breakfast.

Because she ran her errands – grocery store, dry cleaners, drugstore, and bank – and wondered why everyone was being so smiley and friendly, then realized at the end of the day, when she finally looked in the mirror, that she still had the Chiquita banana sticker on her forehead.

Because she gave me the gift of compassion and a love for animals and allowed us to have a menagerie of dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and turtles; but when my then four-year-old little brother announced, “Mommy, look at the big wuuhm!” as a Copperhead snake slithered into our kitchen, she didn’t think twice before chopping its head off with a Hawaiian Punch can. (I know, I know – definitely not animal-friendly, but there are times when a mother’s instinct to save her child is the natural law that prevails.)

Because she taught my brothers and me to tie hot dogs onto long strings and run around the house with all the dogs and cats chasing us so we’d all get some exercise. (The days before I became a veg at age 14.)

Because she made us put the couch cushions at the bottom of the staircase so when we slid down it in our nylon sleeping bags we wouldn’t injure ourselves.

Because she stood at death’s door and could have so easily glided through its pearly gates, but instead, decided to stick around for a while, and grace us with her love here on Earth for a bit longer.

And because she instilled in me her love of books and writing, and for always saying to me if I told her a funny story, “I sure hope you wrote that down.”