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8 years old
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  • “My Hair Isn’t Perfect!” – A Feminist Nightmare

    I never thought this day would come. I had assumed that my influence would overshadow the toxic messaging of culture. I wanted to believe that my personal jihad against women defining themselves through their attractiveness would seep into the pours of my child. That my daughter would emulate my behavior rather than succumbing to the influence of media manipulation and societal conditioning. I naively thought I was going to be able to shelter her from the storm of female insecurity by turning myself into an umbrella of ambivalence regarding beauty standards. Are all these years of dressing like a 12-year old boy, not caring about make up, and having my hair resemble a nest suitable for a family of opossums worth nothing?

    Toni: Hey Munchie let’s go!
    The Munch: I’m not ready yet!
    Toni: Why what’s going on? Don’t you wanna go swimming?
    The Munch: I do, but I can’t leave yet! I am doing my hair!
    Toni: Munch who cares? We’re going swimming.
    The Munch: MOM! I CAN’T GO SWIMMING UNTIL MY HAIR IS PERFECT!

    Silence.

    I let that one sink in for a minute. Five minutes later she comes downstairs in tears.

    The Munch: My hair is not right!
    Toni: Munch, why is your hair so important to you?
    The Munch: It just is!
    Toni: If something is this important to you that you’re going to cry about it, I think it’s crucial for you to understand why it’s so important.
    The Munch: I don’t know!
    Toni: So… is it possible that maybe your hair isn’t actually that important?
    The Munch: I ONLY LIKE IT WHEN MY HAIR IS PERFECT AND I LOOK PRETTY!

    A Tsunami of rage flooded my being. How could my 8-year old give a flying fuck in a rolling doughnut about looking pretty? How could this country-bred, Waldorf educated, Swiss chard eating child (that spends her days in nature communing with chipmunks) work herself up into such a tizzy that she’s weeping because hair isn’t perfect!? It was a feminist nightmare. The walls started closing in on me. It was hard to breathe. I began to lose consciousness as my mouth lost all moisture and I nearly gagged at the horror of it all.

    The munch has never seen me stress about my looks, and if she had observed my hair closer she would’ve noticed that the back section was in fact a giant knot that housed 9 different forms of bacterial microbes. Where was this beauty anxiety coming from? TV? Movies? Other girls? HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?

    Toni: Do you know what this kind of thinking is? This idea that you’re not pretty enough, or that you need your hair to be perfect? It’s a disease of the mind.
    The Munch: What do you mean?
    Toni: Munch like a cold, or the flu that is spread through germs, there are also contagious diseases of thought that culture spreads to make girls think that they aren’t perfect enough or pretty enough. This idea that girls have to be pretty and perfect all the time gets ingrained in your mind. You then think you’re good if you’re pretty or that being pretty is the value you have to the world. Girls then start to believe that being pretty matters more than anything else – more important than being funny, smart, creative, artistic, interesting, or kind. When all you care about is being pretty, then you can no longer see yourself truthfully. When girls obsess about beauty they often will only see their faults – and how they are not beautiful enough – and this disease makes them mutilate themselves with plastic surgery.
    The Munch: Is that where you change your face with doctors?
    Toni: Yes. These women become so insecure that they change their face with surgery because their minds have the disease of believing that they are not good enough. I’ll show you.

    We got on my phone and spent about 20 minutes looking at before and after pictures of women with plastic surgery. In every photo the before was the better photo – the actual faces of these women, smiling and yet to be ravaged by the Hollywood machine. We looked at what they did to themselves, what society did to them, what doctors allowed to happen. These human faces transformed into plastic masks.

    When we were done The Munch stopped talking about her hair. She hasn’t really talked about her hair since. I know the road is still long for us to go down, and this will most likely be the first of many conversations about this. I wanted to at least plant a seed in her consciousness because it breaks my feminist heart to think of The Munch plagued by insecurity around her beauty. Any woman who has gone through this knows what a waste of time it is. How when you are worrying about how pretty you are, you aren’t fighting against the patriarchy that made you feel inferior to begin with. Our daughters don’t have time to worry about this bullshit. Insecure women are controlled by the paradigm of male dominance and are trapped in a compact lacking the foundation they need to break free. Insecure women will waste their money, resources, time, and energy on the impossible task of seeking perfection.

    As humans we all deal with insecurity because it is genuinely hard not to compare yourself to the other. Yet if The Munch is going to feel insecure I’d so much rather it be because her friend Becky is better at science and not about who has the cuter pigtails.

    I mean its not every day that I can do a “Game of Thrones” style hair on an 8 year old.

  • Did I Fuck Myself By Making You a Better Person Than Me?

    Before having a kid, I had all sorts of ideas and goals about how I was going to indoctrinate a human. I felt very confident in my ability to socialize a person, and believed my influence could guide my child’s essence to develop into my ultimate Nietzschean ubermensch. In my fantasy she was going to be a counter-culture anti-corporate non-conforming anarchist revolutionary that would be really into Avant-garde art, only listen to obscure neurofunk tracks, watch exclusively Dutch films part of the digressionism cannon, and of course be an intellectual prodigy. So far things haven’t worked out exactly as planned. The Munch did in fact go through a 3 year My Little Pony phase, is not as interested as I would have thought in my anti-capitalist rants about the Amero or the federal reserve, and genuinely enjoys such TV programs as Full House – but at least she likes Pink Floyd so, that’s something.

    I guess another aim I had was to install a deep sense of empathy in my kid – especially if she’s not going to shave fractals into her hair and write gnomic poetry about the absurdity of existence – sigh. It’s hard to say if The Munch’s empathetic nature is a result of my flawless parenting or more an innate impulse that would have existed regardless, but she is one of the most moral and thoughtful people I know. She is genuinely happy for her friends when good things happen to them, she feels authentic sadness if she causes someone distress, and she’s hyper-aware of how others are feeling. It’s almost uncanny at times how compassionate she can be, and for a while I thought this was a good thing.

    But is it?

    The other day we were driving to my dance studio in Vermont and there was a homeless lady on the corner. We were stopped at a red light so The Munch had time to read her sign asking for money saying “any help is appreciated.”

    The Munch: Mom, the lady’s sign says she needs some money.
    Toni: Ummm… here is $2 – roll down your window and hand it to her.

    The Munch complied and the lady said thank you and we drove into the parking lot to go grocery shopping before I had to teach my class.

    The Munch: Why did that lady need money?
    Toni: Because she’s homeless.
    The Munch: How do people become homeless?
    Toni: There are so many reasons. Sometimes they have mental illness. Sometimes they have addiction problems. Sometimes they lost their jobs and can’t find another one and don’t have friends or family to help. Sometimes they are coming out of prison and can’t find work and have nowhere to go. I mean in truth it’s is a crime against humanity that there is homelessness, especially here where there is the national income to support homeless people – we just make the choice not to. There are solutions, but it’s just not the priority of the government or I guess any of us.
    The Munch: So, they need other people to help them and give them money to survive?
    Toni: Yeah.
    The Munch: So why did you only give her $2?
    Toni: Huh?
    The Munch: Why did you only give her 2$?
    Toni: Well, it’s more than $1…
    The Munch: But you have a $20 bill in your wallet. I saw it.
    Toni: Oh. Well… ummm…uhhhhh… you don’t really give homeless people $20???
    The Munch: WHY NOT!? THEY ARE HOMELESS!? MOM SHE DOESN’T HAVE A HOME AND YOU’RE NOT GOING TO GIVE HER $20?!
    Toni: Well, it’s complicated. I don’t know what she’s going to spend it on….
    The Munch: MOM WHY DOES THAT MATTER!? DID YOU NOT HEAR THE PART ABOUT HER BEING HOMELESS!?
    Toni: Touché.

    Munch took my wallet, grabbed my last $20, and went to find the woman to give it to her. And that’s how I began a relationship with a homeless woman where every time The Munch and I see her Munch gives her all the money in my wallet.

    Here she is making sure that I’m giving all my cash away.

  • Sea Glass Insomnia and Obliterating Borders

    There is nothing quite like crawling into bed, closing your tired eyes, allowing your breath to deepen, and then just as you’re about to drift off into a sweet slumber snuggled inside the encompassing embrace of Morpheus… you instead start thinking about everything you’ve ever regretted about your life coupled with enervating anxiety about your future. I love when that happens!!! As a life-long insomniac this is often my process in going to sleep, and it’s EXACTLY as fun as it sounds. Something about trying to lose consciousness makes me instead consciously obsess about all that’s wrong with me which then transmutes to all that’s wrong with the world. So relaxing!

    I just got back from vacation, and during that time I was sharing a room with The Munch. Her method for settling down into slumber was to toss and turn in bed as if she were training for a breakdancing marathon. Go figure, but it’s really hard to sleep when someone next to you is engaged in a head-spin. The sounds of sheets rustling against her flailing body eroded my psyche and disturbed any chance I had in settling my soul. With every grand gesture she made, I fell further into the abyss of my own self-loathing. I began stressing about my career and overall lack of financial success. I then started feeling inadequate for all my political impotency. This lead to my being consumed by a deep sensation of dread for everything that was to come in not only my life, but in the future of humanity as well. Stories of the horrific news swirled through my synapses. It was a Kafkaesque nightmare of my own making, and my daughter’s thrashing punctuated my every concern as if she were mocking my anguish with rustling fabric.

    Toni: Munch, I’m having a really hard time trying to fall asleep and it doesn’t help with all that wiggling you’re doing! It’s actually really loud. Can you stop moving around so much?
    Munch: I just can’t stop thinking about sea glass?
    Toni: What?
    Munch: I just keep imagining giant pieces of sea glass. In my imagination, I go to pick up a piece of sea glass and just the small corner is poking out, but when I pull it, I realize it’s actually a GIANT piece of sea glass. I just can’t stop imagining that. That’s why I’m wiggling.

    AHHHH TO BE A CHILD!!!!

    The beauty of her thoughts compared to mine.

    Sigh.

    As an adult it’s impossible for me not to envy the purity of a child’s imagination. A brain that hasn’t been burdened by social programming and conditioning… YET. This still malleable mind of the innocent that thinks beyond the confines of civilization. I was inspired by The Munch’s mental meandering about sea glass and equally lost in self-pity. To live in my mind feels like being trapped in Dostoevsky novel while also inside a Russian prison. Yet to live in The Munch’s mind is like experiencing a perpetual episode of Pee Wee’s Playhouse on acid. Her perception of existence feels unattainable for me to achieve because the corruption of culture has infiltrated my sense of reality. I can’t fathom the relief of a mind that focuses so deeply on the joy of finding GIANT pieces of sea glass that it kept me up at night.

    Yet this lack of imagination, of creativity, of seeing how the world could be different, is exactly why we are watching the demise of this country. As annoying as it is to have my kid keep me up at night, at least my kid is fucking with me and not being ripped from my arms by the US government!

    If you have my mental sensibility, chances are the world depresses the fuck out of you. The news overwhelms you. You fear for the future of not only your own life, but what is going to happen to mankind and the animals we are forcing into extinction. Sure, the planet will continue, yet I can’t help but want life to as well. Call me a romantic, but I like life. I think it’s nifty. It would be a real bummer if human beings annihilated it with their selfish greed. I don’t think this is the way things have to be. I think we are stuck in our programming and need a major reboot of how we configure everything. We need a lot more imagination when it comes to solving our political troubles. For example, the solution to this so-called immigration “problem” is not baby prisons. Let’s actually re-imagine how we structure society and get rid of borders.

    I don’t understand why this is such an outlandish proposition. We already live in a global society. Our media is global. Our communication is global. Our trade is global. Why are we holding onto borders? What do they accomplish? Having borders means we have war. Having borders means we have EVIL anti-immigration tactics. Having borders means we have nationalism that promotes racist ideologies. What do borders accomplish that are good for humanity as a whole? Borders don’t even reflect the truth of how we interact. Borders are a colonialist structure that benefits those in power. Borders are a way to perpetuate capitalist corruption. Borders serve zero purpose to the suffering, and clearly only have value for those in power. Why can’t we instead develop a system that supports and admits our interconnectedness? What are we holding onto by maintaining this antiquated arrangement?

    I want to see a political platform that is thinking on these levels. That wants to truly eradicate the infrastructure that’s designed for the rich to oppress the poor. Only then will I have a night where I can maybe think about sea glass instead of traumatized children.

    To be fair munch is right, sea glass is pretty epic.