A journey through Kris’ birthdays

My boo’s birthday is August 15th, which typically means we are travelling – escaping the horrifying Phoenix summers.
The first year we were together for his birthday, we were camping in Zion National Park. I remember having some dumb as fuck petty fight – I think it was about sex? I wanted it and he didn’t want to do it in the crowded campground? Or something like that. Either way, somehow we ended walking down to this little creek to have some private time and sort of have spiteful sex just to do it and shift the energy. So we did, and then he came in literally like 30 seconds and it was just sort of comical and a total shit show. Later that day though – I gave him a sponge bath. He was on his back on the bench of our campsite picnic table and I literally sponge bathed his whole entire body. It was so intimate and romantic. A sponge bath in a damn campground, go figure.

Year four we were in Perugia, Italy having decided to spend the summer in Europe, as we’d done before – but this time we were doing it a new and exciting way. We decided, in the name of frugality, that it would be much cheaper to go for three months, but stay one month in 3 different countries – versus hopping around every 4 or 5 days as per usual. So we sought out apartments to rent. The first month we spent in England bouncing around. We work traded with a home birth midwife who lived in a little village west of London. Then we stayed in London with her transitioning-to-female boyfriend, Gwa, who was the most fantastic host ever. Then for month two: the birthday month, we landed in a little apartment in Perugia – a tiny as fuuuuuuck Italian hill town that we had found through a Facebook acquaintance. We rented it for $600 for the month – a steal, it seemed like. And it was, but spending a month somewhere sight unseen proved to be…..interesting. A hill town sounds romantic, right? Well it’s not. Not for a month, anyway. It was like being on Noah’s fucking Ark – we were literally stuck at the top of a fucking hill. Any venture outside meant walking down – and consequently – back up – a bajillion goddamn steps. Like I’m not even kidding you – it was 183 steps up out of our apartment just to reach the little market on the corner to get milk and bread and shit. Our apartment was in a bangin location – right off the main town square. But a month in the same goddamn square is…..dull. The social isolation was intense. Not being able to converse or connect with fellow humans beyond basic niceties was very strange. And in Italy – all you can get is Italian stuff. If you go to a restaurant you can get pasta and pizza. If you go to the store you can get stuff to make pasta or pizza. You know what i mean? It’s funny in America – we take our diversity for granted. That we can go to a grocery store and get stuff to make a Greek salad or a French feast or a big fat Mexican spread. There were many things to love about Perugia though, and we’ve since been back – it will always hold a special place in our hearts and it is a magical spot to visit. For a weekend. One such magical spot was a cafe called Sandri. The entrance is a tall dramatic glass door framed by two floor to ceiling windows filled with artfully displayed pastries. The servers all wear starch pressed black slacks, white shirts, and short cut bright red blazers. You walk inside to a long, narrow space. On your right are gorgeous sparking glass cases filled with delicate pastries and boxes of chocolates stacked to the ceiling. On the left is the shiny gold espresso machine with a dark Italian man standing at attention, waiting to craft you the most beautiful beverage you’ve ever tasted. Italians drink cappuccinos in the morning, and ordering one after noon is frowned upon. The afternoon beverage is something called orzo. It is a grain, orzo is, and it is roasted and then ground and brewed just like espresso, served like a latte. The red blazered man turned me on to putting a curly slice of orange peel and a cinnamon stick in my delicate china cup of orzo. Just past the espresso bar is another long glass case filled with stainless steel vats of gelato. After the gelato comes the savory breads and cakes – all sold by the pound. On Kris’ birthday we “indulged” and bought an entire cake, which came out to about $40. It’s hard to even describe this cake. It was a layer cake. The “cake” layers being akin to a soft oreo cookie. The filling was various kinds of thick chocolate. Not as thing or light as frosting, but not as thick as strait chocolate. Some sort of light as a cloud chocolate hybrid. It took us about 4 days to eat the whole thing and we still think about it all the time.

Year six was last year, 2016, and we were in Newcastle, England which is the British version of our mid-west. The accents are different, the people look slightly inbred, and everything is just a bit off and dated. We were being hosted by our lovely friend, Clair. On the eve of his birthday I thought, “Oh shit. I should make him a damn birthday card. Or write him a love letter. OR SOMETHING.” But I was in a house that wasn’t mine and had to get rill crafty. I rooted through some kitchen junk drawers and managed to find a piece of light card board and some glitter. The only adhesive of any kind that I came across though was super glue. I went in the bathroom to be stealthy and intended to scroll out this adorable love message in super glue and then sprinkle it with glitter. Upon opening the super glue I found that, duh – the tip was clogged. I had to saw it off with nail clippers so I ended up with a very blunt, wide hole. Not the delicate tip I envisioned writing my love note with. I did what I could, but all I ended up being able to fit was “Your ballsack is on point”. And it was blobby and big – like a preschooler made it. I swear I had many more sentimental thoughts beyond his ballsack, but that’s all I was able to do. I was feeling a little defeated and was also ready to pass out from having the super glue open in a tiny bathroom space so I abandoned ship. I snuck the birthday card up to my friend. She tried not to laugh, and then helped me jazz it up a bit – using her cute hand writing to add some embellishments and compliments and in the end – it turned out alright.

A memorable birthday card that was very much a picture and reflection of me.


Jena Schwartz So many birthday memories bonding you two. I love that the heat of August leads to these various escapes and escapades that make for such great stories later — spongebath in a campground, Noah’s Arc (!!), that cake, and your heroic efforts to make this awesome af card!

Joell – Thanks for taking us through your travels, you seriously need to consider a travel blog. Or maybe you have one. If not, yes please and more. And this had me spitting water on my computer screen, “I swear I had many more sentimental thoughts beyond his ballsack, but that’s all I was able to do”

Katie DiBenedetto Here’s the blog I kept during that trip: http://cockandcrow.com/europe-2016

Joell – Awesome! Thanks. :0)

Katie DiBenedetto I think, in particular, you would like the post “Southern Italy Can Suck my Balls (Italy, Part Two)”.

Stacy – I am with Joell, if you don’t have a travel blog, please start one this summer. And maybe even the card business, as that is one of a kind. Thank you for sharing your adventures!

Daniel – whoa Katie—-you can be passionately flying high but when you start to describe the pastries, cappuccinos, orzo etc like here: “One such magical spot was a cafe called Sandri. The entrance is a tall dramatic glass door framed by two floor to ceiling windows filled with artfully displayed pastries….”, well, you drive me near out of my friggin’ mind…..you are so wonderful describing food and me a Taurus who is controlled through my stomach….oooooh, you had me at parties……

Daniel – Katie—-i want to say it’s been a wonderful time getting to know you through your writing and writing with you and i look forward to seeing you again in one of Jena’s groups! 😊


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