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  • The All Feeling Tyranny of the Wounded Inner Child

    Have you ever heard of the concept that, “you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with?” This idea suggests that we are highly influenced by the energy of the humans we surround ourselves with. By simply spending ample time with people, we cannot escape their impact on our psychology, decisions, and sense of self-worth. So choose those creatures wisely because if you find yourself hanging around a bunch of dick weeds, chances are you’ll be overgrown by testicular crab grass in no time.

    Now here is my problem. I am emotionally dead inside. Wait, no… that was my auto correct. What I meant to say is that I suppress my emotions deep in my colon, brewing up cancer by the minute. Shit. I didn’t mean that either. Okay here we go. I have been working hard over the years to learn to internalize my emotional reactions to life rather than externalize them out in the world. Yeah that’s it!

    One of my main goals in life is to avoid taking my emotions out on others. I try hard to figure out what is actually going on with me, and maintain caution about how and when I share negative emotions. If I feel the need to bitch, I try to remember to predicate that conversation with, “hey, do you mind if I vent for the next 20 minutes in monologue format about some shit bag email I just got?” I have come to learn how to identify that very specific rage that swells inside of me when PMS-ing, and do my best to surrender to the merciless reality that Quentin Tarentino is about to film his next movie in my underpants.

    Yet the irony of my quest to be in control of my emotions is that I tend to attract hyper emotional people in my life. I always have. The five people I surround myself are super interesting, insightful, creative, intuitive, mystical, and EMOTIONAL AS FUCK! I wonder if that is because their feelings helps keep me connected to my own humanity? By being an observer of more emotional humans, I in turn connect to the collective emotional spectrum of the world. My love for others forces me to face the power of emotions.

    My emotions are pretty damn boring and are almost exclusively about work. I have feelings about how many likes a video gets, if anyone cares about my blog, a rejection from something I applied to, or you know, the existential angst I wake up with every morning if anything I do has any meaning at all. THE USUAL. I am obsessed with work, so my exposure to people that think and care about other things is important. When I sit with someone I care about crying over a break up it reminds me, “Hey Toni, you had a heart once too. Connect to it!”

    I have a friend who’s going through addiction issues right now and in order for me to be there for her, I have to tap into the part of myself that was once that desperate. The Toni that also has felt the need to escape into anything that would distract me from who I was. The part of me that was self-destructive and full of confused emotions. Even if I’ve never been an “addict” as society defines it, I still know the power of addiction. I’ve hid behind obsessive love for a person, drugs, sex, TV, iPhones, social media etc… to dull the crushing pain I was not ready to face. There is a piece of our psyches we all have that brings us to do things we know are bad for us, yet we do anyway to feel a momentary sense of relief. What I’ve come to understand is that this impetus often is rooted in the unresolved traumas of our childhood.

    I think the true battle of the human condition is that your wounded inner child is a broken adult.

    Most shitty things that you do, or that other people do to you, are a consequence that dates back to some pain initiated in childhood. Being a kid is such a deeply vulnerable experience. You are 100% dependent on adults for your safety, livelihood, and knowledge base. Yet because most grown ups are also battling the traumas of their childhoods, they don’t always make the best decisions. So this cycle is created of grown ups that haven’t fully healed their inner wounded child, unconsciously emotionally wounding a child. That wounded child then grows up and lives inside an adult who then will wound another child – long into eternity. Or just the next 4 years because we’re all going to die before Trump is out of office.

    So let’s talk about our wounded inner child, because they are fucking real.

    Here is what I think. We have to both unconditionally love our inner child, and discipline them.

    The love part is the part I think is talked about most. Your inner child was an innocent creature that was tormented by the harsh realities of life. It did not know how to process the pain that was put before them, and therefor is still in a state of trauma from that experience. These deep primal wounds take many forms. You may have felt abandoned because of a divorce, or a parent dying. Or you may have felt invisible if your parent was depressed or always working. You could have been beaten, raped, emotionally abused… a ton of horrible shit happens to kids, and that suffering will impact their adult lives. Whatever happened to you that caused the deepest pain in your soul will usually resurfaces every time you are emotionally out of control. Most of the things you regret doing are in direct correlation to your inner child still trying to process what they’ve gone through. Yet once you’ve calmed down from these outbursts and ask yourself, “hmmmmm why did I break all the windows of my lovers car again??” it’s probably because your inner child was hurting from pain not only from the present moment, but also the past.

    Your inner child needs healing, attention, compassion, and empathy. BUT… just like an actual child, they also need discipline, boundaries, and rules. You should never ignore your inner child, but you also can’t let them take over. Your inner child needs to be reasonable, and it’s you who has to teach them that.

    I’ve been a parent for 7 years, and the one thing that I can say for sure is that kids respond to clear boundaries. The Munch’s friend had a birthday party last year where the parents had organized some guy and do archery with the kids. Now this may come as a surprise to you, but a dude that gives 6-year olds REAL BOW AND ARROWS TO SHOOT is going to be pretty fucking strict and rule oriented. As we parents were watching our children prepare for the Hunger Games, we noticed that the archery man was stern as fuck. He was running that party as if it was a totalitarian regime – but it was for THEIR safety. From the grown up perspective the guy kind of seemed like an uptight asshole, but all the kids responded to him really positively. They had NO PROBLEM with him. The Munch didn’t think he was Maoist, and said he was really nice. His clear boundaries weren’t offensive to her, and actually made her feel safe.

    We have to be like this archery man to our inner child! Discipline will help our adult selves not be taken over by the all feeling tyranny of the wounded child. Allowing space for our inner child to heal does not mean enabling them to tantrum and ruin your life. How you parent your inner wounded child will determine your adult life. Your inner child can be a real brat if you don’t’ give them boundaries. Your inner child can make horrible decisions, because your inner child is still a child! You wouldn’t let your kid go on a coke fueled bender fucking strangers without condoms and catching HPV, so why let your inner kid? Your inner child can and should be heard, but you also can say “no” to them. So every time your inner child is out of control tell them, “You are no longer a child alone in the world. Your grown up self is taking care of you now, so chill, or I’m giving you a time out.”

    I gots to keep inner child Toni in check! And what is she doing drinking coffee??

  • The Universe Hates Me

    “At first I was like, sooooo not sure if I should take a job as a Barista when looking at the sign that read, ‘Barista’s wanted.’ But then I was like, wait, that sign is totally a sign from the universe!”
    –Girl in Front of Me While In Line For A Smoothie.

    Have you ever heard a girl talking about signs from the universe and think that it’s a sign from the universe? Do you find yourself desperately seeking guidance from some unknown force, pushing you towards making the decision if Pat is “the one” even though Pat doesn’t give oral with vigor? Are you currently wondering if you should move, and then notice a robin outside your window and think, “wow, in 8th grade I had a friend named Robin whose family moved because her house got infested by termites – so yeah, I absolutely should move and start eating wood.”

    SO DO I!!!

    I like to think the universe is talking to me. It’s comforting. The thought of a conducting cosmos makes me feel like all the dumb decisions I’ve made are sensible. Like that time I went out dancing and staggered out of the club super drunk without my shoes on, took a picture with a cop, peed publically, then jumped into a passing convertible with my friend because we had no shoes on and couldn’t walk home – that would be crazy. Our feet would get dirty. So we got a ride home from a strange man, and as I was thanking him for not raping us, I drunkenly fell out of his car almost smashing my nose on the pavement when I saw a penny on the street – heads up mind you. IT WAS A SIGN that I was lucky!

    I do this constantly. I want to believe that there is an energy, or higher power, directing me through life. Despite my quasi-agnostic worldview, it is that draw that makes me understand the appeal of religion.

    Even though I was raised catholic, I’ve never believed in an organized religious system. As a very young child I questioned what I was being told at church, and struggled with “belief.” My dad was a professor and scholar of Greek Mythology, so I had always been interested in those stories because of him. Because of my personal exposure to the gods of ancient Greece, I didn’t think it was fair that the Catholic Church called their beliefs true, but the Greek religion of the past was considered, and universally accepted, as “myth.” I guess I was a very egalitarian 8-year old?

    I was also terrified of the concept of eternity. I didn’t want to be in heaven or hell for the REST OF TIME! That terrified me. I thought I would get bored in either place. The idea of forever kept me up at night – hence my childhood insomnia.

    Yet my grandmother, who I spent a lot of time with growing up, was very religious. She would say things like, “pray for me that I will die soon so I can be with Jesus.” Okay… but do you mind if I do that after the weekend? I kind of need you until my parents pick me up on Sunday. I’m six.

    My grandmother would take my brother and me to Church not only on Sundays, but also Saturdays. Which for a kid in the 80’s who really liked cartoons, was a real kick in the pants. But I loved my grandmother deeply, even though her idea of a good time was watching the movie Jesus of Nazareth. If you’ve never seen that gem of a film, not only is there plenty of Jesus-torturing happening, but also a scene where King Herod kills all the baby boys within a 100 mile radius in an attempt to stop the coming messiah. Believe you me, there is nothing like a good baby-killing scene to make a kid cry.

    So my childhood was fraught with a lot of church going, praying, and trying to reconcile the image of infants being mass-murdered. My parents also dutifully brought me to Church to appease my grandmother, and it wasn’t until I was 13 when I realized that my dad was only bringing me because he wanted to make his mother happy. It was then we agreed I was old enough to not only make my own choices regarding my spiritual beliefs, but also to start lying to my Grandmother that I still went to church.

    Even though I never found myself believing in the bible, I am grateful for my time at church because it was a space where I had to just sit there and think about mortality and the concept of God. I believe it was in the church that I created a relationship to my idea of God, which admittedly is much more abstract than a dude who has a son that wears a Coachella styled head band of thorns, which, although trendy, is just not that practical. Yet I realize that my obsession with “the universe” protecting me is much like the personification of God.

    Thinking the universe gives a shit about me maybe is totally absurd? Plus now we supposedly live in a multiverse so which universe am I even talking about?

    However the alternative – to think that no universe cares if I get a book deal or not – sounds super depressing! I enjoy the idea that the universe has a path for me, and I just have to see the signs to know if I’m on the right one. I want to think that noticing a cardinal in a tree wink at me is as a sign from the universe telling me that one day the Farrelly brothers will make my script into a movie. AND DON’T YOU DARE TELL ME IT’S NOT!

    Yet…. My belief system is getting slightly challenged right now. Mainly because there have been A LOT OF BAD SIGNS!

    For one, the other day a nest of birds that had been in my chimney must have come apart, and 3 baby birds fell down the shaft and into my fireplace. (Hehe shaft.) Anyway, I called animal rescue thinking that they would come and save these birds… or I don’t know… give a shit at all. They told me to put the birds in a basket and bring them back up to the roof. However, my roof is at an angle of 80 degrees, and without rock climbing equipment, it’s impossible to get up there. So I called back.

    Toni: I picked up the birds with gloves and put them in a basket with grass on the bottom – but I can’t get up on my roof.
    Wild Life Protection Lady: Okay then put them outside.
    Toni: But what if their mom can’t find them?
    Wild Life Protection Lady: From the picture you sent they are fledglings and will figure it out.
    Toni: But it’s raining out there? Is there anything else I can do?
    Wild Life Protection Lady: Just put them outside.
    Toni: And then what?
    Wild Life Protection Lady: Nothing.

    I put them outside and prayed for their mom to come. I tried to keep them covered from the rain. I went to work to teach my dance classes and when I came back they were all dead.

    THEN…

    Last night I went up to my room to sleep, and as customary before I get into bed, I first did a meditation in my meditation corner. The lights in my room were off because I was trying to calm my brain and prepare my body for sleep. After all, I still am an insomniac thinking about forever of course. When my alarm went off I opened my eyes from the meditation, and picked up my phone to shut off the timer. During that process, I saw something. Right in front of my mediation pillow was a dead chipmunk that my cat had brought in – without a head.

    I wanted to scream, but I am a grown-up, so instead I squealed in horror. I went downstairs to get a broom and a dustpan, and tried to pull myself together. I couldn’t understand why this was happening to me. What was the universe trying to tell me?!

    I said to myself while drudgingly walking back up the stairs to my room, “Well, at least I didn’t step on the dead chipmunk. That would have been horrible. I can at least have gratitude for not stepping on it. Maybe that is the lesson of the universe? That even when horrible things happen, they could be worse so I should always have gratitude?”

    I mustered up all my bravery and swept the headless body into the dustpan. I didn’t want to turn on the light, because I wanted to see as a little as possible, so I was using my phone flashlight. I descended the stairs, and brought the carcass outside.

    At least it was over right? At least I didn’t step on it, right?

    With the lights still off I entered my still dark room and that’s when I felt it. I stepped on something cold and wet. I knew what it was even before looking. The half eaten face of the chipmunk.

    This time I fucking screamed.

    I ran to the bathroom to wash my foot. Now I was freaking the fuck out, especially because I had stepped on it with just the right amount of pressure so that the face was stuck to my foot. The water pressure alone wouldn’t release it, and I had to use my hands to scrape off what I think was its tongue. I then had to get toilet paper, go back into my room that for whatever reason I was still keeping dark, and use my flashlight to pick up pieces of chewed up face and brain.

    After about ten minutes of that, and a lot of dry heaving, I went back into my room with my flashlight and started walking towards my bed. But you guessed it. I stepped on yet another wet mash. This time it was on my decorative rug – which was why in my cleaning process I hadn’t seen the thrown up chipmunk neck that my cat had vomited.

    I didn’t squeal. I didn’t scream. I cried.

    I then washed what I’m pretty sure was a chipmunk esophagus off my foot, went back downstairs, got cleaner, and then went back upstairs to clean up the regurgitated chipmunk throat.

    At that point I had been cleaning up this massacre for 30 minutes. I collapsed into bed shaking in horror. But at least I fell asleep!

    Then this morning as I was still recovering, I was making the Munch breakfast when she called to me.

    Munch: Mama there is something disgusting in my playroom.

    Thinking it had to be more chipmunk debris I gathered my wits and entered the room. You’d be happy to hear it wasn’t the chipmunk at all, but instead the face of a mouse. Not it’s head or body, just the face. So now I have the task of finding the rest of it to look forward to for the rest of my day.

    WHAT DO THESE SIGNS MEAN?? Pretty sure the universe is not telling me I’m going to get that TV deal – but actually that the universe just fucking hates me.

    Nothing to see here… just the universe shining its rays of hate upon me

  • My Life Pretty Much Sucks, How About You?

    Some of the happiest I’ve ever been is when I was on drugs. There was one time where I took liquid acid in nature, at 11 in the morning, and even though I was with two other people we spent the entire day alone – exploring the wilderness and laughing to ourselves at the absurdity of existence. I’ve done cocaine on the beaches of Costa Rica, ecstasy in clubs in New York, mushrooms on a mountain. I’ve giggled to the point of near insanity on weed, and truly felt the oneness of all things… also on weed. The common link of those experiences that brought so much bliss was this sense of freedom of forgetting myself. Allowing my identity to slither away into the background, leaving behind my worries about the future and anxieties about the past. Of course some of my worst memories are on drugs too – puking off a balcony for 3 hours, waking up on to the sound of my own puking on a grimy bathroom floor, and desperately shoving my fist down my throat attempting to puke because I ligit poisoned myself. So… everything has a price.

    Of course the happiness experienced with drugs is synthetic and manufactured. It’s not the same as the deep cultivated happiness that comes from a genuinely good time. There are many cases when I’ve experienced that authentic type of joy as well, but it’s hard to come by, and only visits in the most unexpected moments. You have to wait and around and see if it will come, and sometimes like that Dad that went out for cigarettes, it can take a minute before it comes back.

    What is happiness really? It’s such an illusive feeling, yet something we all seek. According to the American constitution it is even our RIGHT to be happy! Can you believe that? It’s my god give right to be happy!!! Yet despite our forefathers insisting on it’s availability I find myself chasing happiness, trying to capture it in a cage it can always escape from.

    Maybe the quest for happiness, that assumption that happiness is something I deserve, is part of the problem. Contentment seems like a more reasonable goal to strive for. I don’t need a happy life; I would just like to feel content. Perhaps I would feel more content if I wasn’t so focused on wanting happiness? I should see happiness for what she is… a flighty sprite who dips in and out of life at a whim – a gift not to hold onto, but to set free for others to find.

    CAN YOU GUYS TELL I’VE BEEN HAVING A HARD TIME!?

    This is what’s going on with me. For one… my back went into spasm. AGAIN!! This JUST happened to me last month so I’m kind of wanting to shoot myself in the face. The problem with my back going into spasm is not only am I in state of constant agony, but also my limited ability to move takes away my main sources of joy. I can’t dance when my back is in spasm, and dancing is my antidepressant. The minute I enter into the dance studio I feel like nothing else matters. I love teaching, I love my students, and I love the journey we go on together. I always leave with a renewed sense of purpose. Who cares if I just got rejected from that film festival, I taught a woman to twerk today!

    With my back debilitating me, I also can’t make my videos, or write because sitting is so excruciating; I can’t do anything that feeds my soul and spirit. I just have to exist. WHICH I AM NOT GOOD AT!

    Doing nothing but allowing myself to rest and heal is my PERSONAL HELL! Relaxing has become super stressful for me. So instead I try to be really proactive about my getting better, and work really hard at it. Yeah yeah, I get the irony too. But I have shit to do, places to go, and adventure to be had. I did not schedule in debilitating discomfort!

    So far on this back pain journey I’ve seen my acupuncture lady and had her jab her needles in me – 3 times. I’ve been drinking the Chinese herbs she gave me that taste like licking the taint of Satan. I’ve done meditations, picked tarot cards, sat with my suffering, did ceremonies of gratitude, and drank more demon brew.

    It’s been my thinking that I have to dive into the esoteric when I’m experiencing discomfort because there is this part of me that believes I deserve these moments of pain. I see my misery as a lesson – a teacher to tell me how I’m not living life right. So I self-reflect; convinced my back pain is an emotional necessity of my development.

    In the midst of dealing with this back drama, I wake up Sunday morning and go downstairs to choke down some Chinese herbs/devil drink. As I’m retching, I absentmindedly feel my neck. There’s something there. I knew right away it was an embedded tick. I hobbled to bathroom praying… but when I look in the mirror my stomach drops. There was a deer tick sucking away at my blood like a mini Dracula, yet with less sexual swagger.

    Now if you don’t live in New England and don’t have your prerequisite PHD on tick breeds, deer ticks are the bad kind – the kind that carries Lyme. Lyme is the most feared disease of the North East. There is no real cure. It affects everyone differently. It can fuck you up for life. Lyme is like the AIDS of New England. I checked the tick’s dick to see if it was wearing a condom.

    I knew it had been on me for while. Because of my back I hadn’t exactly been showring, so I was not doing daily tick checks. I also didn’t even think of it because I hadn’t been outside either, and was too busy watching old Twin Peaks episodes. But my cat sleeps in my bed so I guess it had crawled off her and on to me? I got tweezers and pulled the tick off, wishing David Lynch was directing my life because this was a great moment for red curtains and a little person to speak backwards yet forwards.

    I stared at the tick that was still holding onto a huge chunk of my neck with his little mouth-claws. I then looked at the bite. Holy fuck he was really in there.

    I put him in jar and sat there watching at him. He crawled along the sides of the glass, still carrying a piece of my throat with him. We were bonded for life now.

    I staggered to my car with my tick, threw some pillows on the seat so I could attempt to drive, and headed to the hospital to get him tested. Yeah… so it turns out hospitals don’t really appreciate you’re bringing ticks to them.

    Nurse: You need to have your physician call first.
    Toni: It’s Sunday… and Memorial Day weekend? How is that going to happen?
    Nurse: Sorry. You’re gonna have to take your tick and leave.

    So I did just that. I gathered up my tick and left. At this point I’ve fully developed Stockholm syndrome, carrying my tick around from place to place, feeling the need to take care of it. I put a piece of grass in the jar in case it got hungry, buckled him up in my kid’s car seat so he would stay safe, and then named him Noam – hoping that like his name sake Chomsky, this tick would fill my blood with knowledge about the political system in the Middle East and not Lyme.

    Noam and I headed to my acupuncture lady – for the 4th time in 4 days. She did her best to suck the poison out by stabbing the bite a few times with a needle. She then light some shit on fire and “cupped” the bite. With a giant hicky on my neck, she sent me on my way. Noam and I got back in the car, because of course I brought him in the house with me so he didn’t get lonely. Before driving off, I stuck my head out the window.

    Toni: Wait? What should I do about my back? It’s still really bad?
    Acupuncture lady: Keep drinking herbal.
    Toni: Right.

    While driving home my physician finally called back and said I have to send the tick away to get it tested, but I can’t until Tuesday because of the holiday weekend. She suggested I put a small piece of wet paper towel in the jar to keep some moisture in.

    I bring Noam home, and set up his new apartment in the jar with some Ikea furniture. He’s officially my pet now. I feel love for him. It’s not his fault that global warming means more ticks to destroy humanity. He’s doing his best.

    The next day I see my healer. My back is a mess. My bite is festering. My emotional state is borderline Jack in The Shining because I haven’t been able to sleep. I’ve been having nightmares every night about ticks and bugs crawling all over me, and keep waking up in a panic to check my body. And my stomach is a mess from all the herbs, aka the secretions of Lucifer’s loins.

    The healer and I talk about my back and the reality that I’ve been getting about five back spasms a year for the last five years and how to solve the problem of this chronic pain. I can’t take it any more. I don’t know what else I have to learn about myself. How much more self-reflecting I can do? I’m done thinking about me. I’m boring myself.

    Healer: I don’t think this pain is emotional. I think it’s skeletal. Your hips are so torqued and twisted.
    Toni: Do you think it’s from my pregnancy?
    Healer: No.
    Toni: Car accident?
    Healer: No?
    Toni: Well, I guess this all started when I was in the 5th grade. That’s the first time I remember getting this kind of back pain. At the time I was jumping on the trampoline about 6 hours a day so…
    Healer: It’s the trampoline.

    Right.

    Where everything stands now is not only is my back still all fucked, but also my hips, AND my right foot from walking so weird because of my fucked up back and hips. So now I have this shooting pain in my foot and can’t walk on it. Turns out it’s nerve damage. Cool. I look so hot in crutches – the perfect tool to impale myself with.

    Even though I can see how this is a physical misalignment of my bones, I still did learn a lot emotional soul searching from this current bought of suffering. Might as well since I have the time right and can’t work?

    First. I keep hearing about horrible things happening in other peoples’ lives – stories of friends that had a fire at their home, friends that lost a child. These real devastations that force me to realize how lucky I am. How lucky most of us are most of the time. There is so much potential for tragedy in this world, and it’s a blessing when you are not experiencing it. Perspective is crucial when feeling sorry for yourself because most of my pain is of my own making.

    I also realized that I’m motivated by the wrong sources. Much like a car that is powered with dirty fossil fuels, I need to shift what drives me. I need to become electric.

    When I was in my 20’s I wanted to change the world. I was politically motivated, and compelled by social consciousness. I had so many ideas of how I would make a difference, and even though my visions had merit, my executions never panned out. I got discouraged by life, and started to see the whole system as rigged. I felt useless in this paradigm of the New World Order and lizard elite with their alien DNA pulling the strings of the hallucinatory global economy. What could I possibly do considering all the massive corruption and greed that is the guiding principal of everything? I’m just some 25 year old that no one takes seriously.

    In the midst of this despondency and desperate feeling I was meaningless, I got pregnant. There is this assumption that a baby ties you down, but in a certain way it frees you. After the birth of my child, the world became so small. This infant was my world and nothing else mattered but her eating and sleeping. It was so simple. Just love this baby and keep her alive. It was this profound break from not only my own troubles, but also the troubles of the planet. This time in my life was like an altered state, the ultimate drug experience. I escaped into this sweet bubble of caring for my baby.

    As the Munch grew and I had more time for myself, I had to redefine who I was. I had to get to know myself again. There was less time to be spent on mothering, but now what? I was no longer living in New York City, and sequestered amongst trees. That’s why I started writing, and making art more seriously. I had always dabbled, but seen it as a hobby. Something shifted in me. I figured maybe I couldn’t change the world from the bowels of rural New Hampshire, but I could at least try to entertain it?

    Yet somewhere along way, my motivation of why I do the things I do got convoluted. I’m no longer in that adolescent state of my 20’s when anything seems possible. I’m in my 30’s. Reality and responsibilities color my every decision. I need to have a career. I need to figure out my place in this world. I want my art to be that driver. I don’t know if it ever will. But there is a pressure that sits on my chest making it had to breathe.

    Yet I can now see the only motivation I need is not one of success, or recognition, but rather to be propelled by the same force of my 20s – that naïve belief that I can make a difference in this corrupted world. Idealism gets beaten out of us so easily because of the overwhelming task of it all, but fuck that. I don’t want to be cynical. I want to be impassioned by the same ignorance of my youth. The benign belief that if you try hard enough, shit will change. It will get better even if it is just in your small corner of the world. Even if my only true contribution to society is that because of me, a woman can pulse her pelvis to the beat of hip-hop music at my dance studio.

    Noam with his paper towel.

    Noam’s apartment.

    My tearful goodbye, sending Noam away.

    The culprit… my cat.

  • Getting Old

    The above picture is of my dog Mona when she was a puppy. I was 21, just lounging around in roller-skates – obviously killing it at life. Now my dog is 16 years old, blind, and deaf. I don’t know if you’ve ever had a dog that was not only blind, but also deaf, but let me tell you…. IT IS FUCKING HARD AS HELL WHEN YOUR DOG CAN’T SEE OR HEAR!

    You’d think that because of her handicaps, Mona would be more cautious. NOPE. Despite Mona’s age and disabilities, her body is quite spry. She spends her days taking many risks. For example, Mona once decided to push her way through the cat door, falling 9 feet onto a furniture tower in the basement. I searched for her for 2 hours in the woods before finally thinking to check down there. It’s insanely stressful when Mona goes missing because you can’t call for her, and YOU CAN’T FUCKING CALL FOR HER! Mona relentlessly escapes the pen that we made for her outside, and has been found miles from my house. How a blind deaf dog not only maneuvers her way through a screened in enclosure, but also traveled so far is beyond me – but the policeman was SUPER judgey when he returned her.

    Mona also now shits and pisses in the house almost daily. Okay, she’s old so this happens, but because Mona can’t see she, steps in her urine and shit balls only to then walk around covering the kitchen floor in paw prints of her piss soaked feces debris. It’s a delight!

    My dog’s aging of course makes me think of my own. I guess I’m officially considered “middle-aged” now? I’m 37 ½ years old. The half is important because I think that’s what keeps me in my “mid” 30’s as opposed to my “late”30’s, which is just 6 months away. Next year will be my 20 year high school reunion which is meant as marker to see how far I’ve come in the past two decades, yet I currently still spend a LOT of time with teenage girls talking about boys and dicks sooooo, I don’t know?

    When I was a kid I used to imagine what being an adult would feel like. For one, I was going to have HUGE tits, and for two, I was most likely going to feel like an adult. None of those visions really panned out, despite many wishes on a star for a full D.

    As a 37 year old I posture participating in adult activities, but it never feels authentic. I do these grownup things like go to lawyers, or send in forms for my taxes – but all this signing pieces of paper I don’t understand just feels like I’m playing pretend. It’s like I’m still that same kid wanting to be someone I’m not while stumbling around wearing my mom’s high heel shoes – and her makeup, and bras, and underwear while balancing her diaphragm on my nose like seal… everyone did that right?

    I think a part of me is in denial. I didn’t even notice I had wrinkles until my friend pointed it out. I guess it wasn’t clear to me because I don’t make a lot of faces in the mirror – just the one where I brush my teeth, and of course the other one where I’m yelling, “you’re never going to be good enough!” My point is, I didn’t realize I had wrinkles until a picture was posted on FB of me with my eyebrows raised and apparently my forehead was contoured with lines! My friend messaged me (actually it was TWO SEPARATE FRIENDS) saying, “Toni you have to take better care of your skin!” Jesus Christ you mean washing it with hand soap twice a week isn’t enough??!! WHAT DOES THE WORLD WANT FROM ME?

    So yeah, I’m getting older and I resist it. Not because I don’t want to be old. Being old is a gift! I think being an old lady will be super fun. I’m going to do a lot of acid, and then talk about my puss to random people at the farmers market just to freak them out. It would be a delight if I get the chance to be a raunchy, shocking, old lady that everyone has to tolerate because, “you can’t teach an old bitch new tricks.” Sounds like a dream. The old part is going to be rad. It’s this in-between part I’m not so sure I’m into because it’s so fraught with expectations.

    So far I don’t feel like I’m a successful adult. I don’t own a house. I don’t have a high paying career. I’m not invited to dinner parties, and when I go to a parent teacher conference for my kid I find myself in a state of shock that I’m sitting in that tiny chair to hear about her, not to learn long division myself. Being a mother is the most mature thing about me according to society’s standards, but keep in mind my 6-year old and I both equally enjoy the new Katy Perry song “Swish Swish,” and I can’t help but notice that we dress the same.

    So yeah, my daily uniform of leggings and hoodies does not exactly make me appear like I’ve got “my shit together” as a grown up. In many ways, I am still striving to be one. I have this endless yearning towards finding success in my artistic pursuits, and the naïve assumption that achieving that will make me feel whole, even though I know it won’t. Yet I think I hold onto my youth as a means of excusing the reality that I cannot stop making art, and that is the only life I want. It’s a childish commitment of wanting a life full of creative expression, and I’m not sure I will ever feel like I mature out of that.

    Maybe I also am stunted in a certain way because of the death of my best friend? She died when I was 20, and I part of me died too that day. Perhaps holding on to youth is my way of holding onto her. We stopped growing up together the day she died, and it’s almost like I don’t want to outgrow our friendship by leaving behind that part of me. But I’m also sure if she were alive today, we’d still be smoking pot together while skinny-dipping in lakes – doing handstands in waist deep water in the middle of the afternoon. So maybe it’s just the tribe of people I surround myself with?

    The only place where I can say with true confidence that I’ve grown is emotionally. In that way, I am mature as fuck. I self-reflect, I don’t blame others for my problems, I look out for others, I do favors, I know how to apologize, I am forgiving, I’m not afraid of failure, I take risks, I don’t hold grudges, and I try to find solutions to my challenges rather than wallow in self-pity. But I can’t put shit on a resume. There is no bragging on Facebook about my most recent accomplishment of “being really gracious when someone was taking out their bad day on me, and then helping them to dig deep into why they were acting out.” So yeah, maybe when I go on Facebook and see a Congressman Kennedy verbally eviscerate Donald Trump’s budget I think to myself, – “huh I went to high school with that kid and he’s probably gonna be president” and then fall into a spiral of self doubt where I debate pulling out all my eyelashes just to feel something different. But then I have to remind myself, “but Toni, you did open that door for that dude carrying all those boxes at the Organic Coop – so you’re doing your part.”

    Here’s Mona… having escaped and frothing at the mouth with one cataract reflecting in the sunlight.

    May 25, 2017 • ambitions, change, children, emotions, kids, Mommyhood, Musings, Parenting • Views: 1497

  • I Need a Vacation From Myself

    When most people go on vacation, they find themselves relaxing at the beach, drinking Mai Tais, taking in some light reading, and sleeping in. When I try to vacation I tend to have my ego ripped out of my psyche so I can fully examine all my demons and search deep into the dark depths of my soul to uncover all it is about me that is vile. To each his own.

    It’s not like I had that intention when I got on the plane to California. My initial vision was that I take a work meeting, and then visit my lovely friend in LA to go on adventures. It was the perfect idea to get me out of my head because so far, no matter where I go, I keep bumping into me. I figured hanging out with a childhood friend who also happens to be one of the best people on planet earth would be the ideal getaway. Not to say that didn’t happen – but it wasn’t exactly the light-hearted jaunt I had intended.

    The first 24 hours were pure bliss. Everything you dreamed a vacation would be. But then, on a hike, my knee started to hurt. Not because of any reason mind you, it just hurt. I knew what this meant. It meant it was time for my soul to communicate to my ego through the language of my body. OBVI!

    My knee hurting was holding us back from all the fun things we could be doing. I knew the pain was a message I had to decode, because my body breaking down is when I am forced to do my deepest self-reflection. Otherwise I’m always on the move, trying this, doing that, being here, going there. But when my body slows me down, I am forced to think about all the things I avoid thinking about.

    In a way, the ego journey was obvious. I was in LA. LA represents much more to me than just a city that will soon be underwater, or blown up by North Korea. LA is the mecca of ambition and success in my creative field. A lot of people ask me why I don’t move to LA, especially because it’s kind of hard to network / break into the business when you live amongst the trees in rural New Hampshire. Sure I often go outside and pitch my witty feminist script ideas to the squirrels, but they are so damn critical about narrative structure.

    I’m an obsessive and ambitious person, but I don’t really thrive when I’m in places like New York and LA because I get too distracted. My FOMO takes over, and I end up flitting about to this place and that like a hummingbird with ADHD – always looking for the next place to be, or the next person to talk to. But when I’m isolated in nature, with nothing to pull me away from my work, I’m infinitely more productive. As an artist my life choices make sense because they facilitate creativity and productivity, but it’s not like I have any big success to brag about either.

    A lot of these questions were coming up for me, but they are nothing new, and were not the mystery behind my knee pain. Then my friend made a comment… “You want to come here to LA to make big strides” and it really struck me. Not only because I have freakishly long legs, but also because the wanting to make strides was so clearly manifesting in my knee.

    That night I went to bed, and I couldn’t sleep. I started thinking of how unconsciously judgmental I can be of my friends who are more focused on relationships than me. How there is this way I’ve felt superior because where they’re busy thinking and talking about guys, I am busy thinking and talking about my career. Constantly. I had to realize that I am no different than my friends looking for love. The yearning I have for my career is the same. I’m just as pathetic as a teenage girl the morning of prom, waiting to see if someone will call. I’m just as boring talking endlessly about this project or that, as any girl talking about this boy or that. I mean both conversations involve dicks, mine just happens to center around how to turn the vas deferens into a character for a video.

    I woke up that morning and my knee pain was gone! I did it! I was free to finally enjoy myself right?

    NOPE!

    Then the next day my back went into spasm. Of course.

    What the dick universe? Now what?

    I could barely stand without shooting pain, so I had to think, and I had to think fast. Why? Why was my back in this tightened state of constant spasm? I realized that the seed of the spasm had been planted in a yoga class my friend had taken me to earlier in the week. I don’t usually go to yoga classes because I’m a teacher, so I practice yoga on my own. There doesn’t seem to be much of a reason to go to class because no one challenges me in the same way I know how to challenge myself. So this yoga class felt easy to me – which of course I KNOW IS NOT THE POINT OF YOGA, but I had a lot of energy to burn that day. Rather than just enjoying the experience I was having, I kept making everything harder for myself. Doing 7 of a pose instead of just the few she was suggesting. I had to realize that are many times where I’m trying to make the moment more than what it is.

    That was exactly it. That was my problem. Always wanting things to be more than what they are. The struggle of enjoying what is in front of me. Now this is something I know intellectually – that I should honor the process not focus on the goal – but having a philosophical understanding is not the same as a visceral one.

    The challenge is that existing in the present is a lofty goal, because if you think about it, there is no present moment – only the past and the future. What we think is the present moment is actually the past because it takes time for our brain to process the data and information to make sense of the reality in front of us. The now is already over. This moment just happened. It’s like the line of the horizon – it actually doesn’t exist. It’s just our perception. In theoretical physics, there is no difference between the past and the future because they’re treated exactly the same. Yet we are told to live in the present to avoid the suffering of obsessing about the past and future. Suffering is not caused by the external realities around us, but rather the internal thoughts inside of us. Our minds are the cause of our suffering. Wanting to be somewhere else other than where you are is the root of suffering. Not being able to appreciate what is happening because you have a craving for something different. A person who does not crave cannot suffer, yet achieving that state of Nirvana takes a discipline so many of us lack. So we run from pain towards pleasure… always wanting less pain and more pleasure. As long as we exist in that paradigm, we will never be satisfied because we will always be in this state of craving more or less of something. That is the irony of the human condition, one obsessed with the illusion of linear time. Time is a circle. Time is infinite. The past could be the future. Time is barely relevant in this multi-verse of multi dimensions of infinite time and infinite space because the universe is not only expanding away from us it’s also accelerating. That’s all I had to learn. DUH!

    Here I am when I was 19 and on vacation in Greece… god I was so much simpler then! Just sticking my tits out enjoying life like a normal person.

    May 3, 2017 • Adventures, ambitions, emotions, Musings • Views: 968

  • My Soul Has Blue Balls

    Hi. I’m Toni. And my soul has blue balls.

    Not because my life is bad. My life is fine. I just want more out of all of it. A lot of energy is spent picking apart the pieces of my life and wanting more – a mixture between chasing feelings and running from them in an endless marathon of avoidance. I don’t care if my glass is half empty or half full; I just want to know if it’s big enough for me to bathe in? Yet within this context of swirling around in an existential shame spiral of my own making, I turn my attention to world events, and the nightmare of modern times. I’m overcome with massive guilt around caring so deeply about my own life, when so much of the world is suffering. I wake up in the morning happy to be alive, then the overall malaise and general dissatisfaction sweeps over me. I think about myself, wondering if it’s possible to feel truly satisfied with my career, but then realize Donald Trump is still President – and a deep panic sets in. But then I remember how stress will give me wrinkles, so I turn my attention back to thinking about me, and wondering if the world will ever truly appreciate my anti-feminist feminist post-modern modern world view?

    I make it to my kitchen to prepare for the day and listen to Noam Chomsky on “Democracy Now” talk about how we are at the brink of nuclear war. I think to myself “You need do something about this Toni! Noam is not dumb, or alarmist. He must be right!” But then the show is over, and I’ve eaten my breakfast, so I go back to thinking about me. My brain trails to the very important question of, “is it really crucial to change your underwear daily?”

    I then get into my car to drive my kid to school and listen to the “Radiolab Podcast” discuss how at any moment, Trump could start a nuclear war. There is truly no one to stop him. Horrified, and in disbelief, I think to myself, “Jesus Christ Toni, this is a big fucking deal! What are you gonna do about it?” But then the show ends, and a sweet folk singer comes on the radio singing about grinning at her reflection in a spoon. So I go back to thinking about me again – and how I haven’t been to the dentist since 2003 and should smile less in public.

    I then go home and work on my computer. I spend an hour composing the perfect equal opportunity genital joke, and then check Facebook for a break. I see a post that reads, “How long did it take Trump to put the Threat of nuclear annihilation back on the table? Less then four months?” I start to sweat profusely, and ask myself, “Toni, are you seriously going to live your life as a passive bystander with the possibility of nuclear missals being launched into the sky?” but that makes me think of a funny dick joke, so I go back to that.

    You guys!! I can’t stop thinking about myself even though the world might be coming to an end! Am I the only one? Can we have a support group for people who care enough to have major anxiety about world events, but still enjoy fixating on their own meager existence? It’s so hard to be simmultaniously self-obsessed and world-obsessed. It’s like every time I’m about to metaphorically cum thinking about my own life, awareness seeps in reminding me that my individual concerns are insignificant compared to the bigger picture. I feel so alone. Hold me.

    Here I am… in the snow… wearing a T-shirt… thinking about me, despite global warming.

    April 12, 2017 • ambitions, Current Events, emotions, Musings, Political Banter, problems • Views: 835

  • Scratching That Itch Doesn’t Make it Go Away – it Just Moves it

    We’ve all had those moments where you ask someone to scratch your back, and some willing, but slightly irritated victim obeys. No one wants to scratch someone else’s back because as a rational person you know what you’re in for – a journey into the impossibility of satiating an itch. Seconds after the skin scraping ritual begins, the itch moves. “A little to the left,” you say. Once again, it moves. “Now back to the right,” you instruct as their nails skid across your human casing. “Now up… down… over… to the left… no to the right I said… back down again… up… more up… up some more… and…”

    An itch isn’t meant to be relieved; it is designed to torture you with craving. We fool ourselves into thinking that digging your claws into the right spot will make it go away. We forget the unavoidable truth that the very nature of yearning is rooted in the harsh reality that even when you get what you want, it isn’t what you want any more. Our collective story is fraught with examples of this. I want that man, but now that I have him, he bores me. I think that those drugs would feel divine, yet now I am puking into my shirt. I need that job – huh, boy this job is stressful. I need a vacation, and now I need a vacation from my vacation. I’ll go on this dating app to have meaningless sexual encounters, yet at the same time look for a relationship. Even though we can often see the hamster wheel of another person’s life, we put ourselves through the same cycle over and over and over again, running into the oblivion of our ravenousness.

    I think it’s that exactly feeling that our smarty pants phones tap into. This need for an instant hit of something outside of ourselves to distract our minds from the pain of our thoughts. For most of us, our brains have a mind of their own, and we are thinking about things we don’t want to think about, yet can’t stop thinking about. So we want, and want, and want some more. We want more love, more sex, more drugs, more success, more entertainment, more food, more sugar, more adoration, more acknowledgement, more appreciation, more money, more security, more freedom, more stuff… and then we want it all over again, just a better version.

    This constant striving may be the catalyst of the vast majority of our emotional suffering, yet it’s also the drive that pushes towards progress – and maybe even our own survival. The curiosity of humans, this ceaseless thirst that we cannot quench, is unique to our kind. Back in pre-history when Neanderthals reached the shores of an ocean do you know they did? They turned the fuck around because there was a goddamn giant scary body of water in front of them, and they couldn’t see the other side. Do you know what Homo sapiens did? They built a raft to float out into the unknown and see what was beyond the horizon. When the Neanderthals reached a mountain range they would camp at the bottom, but Homo sapiens, even the straight ones, would climb to the other side. Neanderthals lacked the seemingly crucial social construction of craving for more, where we Homo sapiens succumbed to it. And who the are the ones that are extinct now!?

    Even though our wanting is part of our demise, it’s also part of our successes as a species. So how do we as individuals have a more reasonable relationship to the seduction of desire? Is there a way to find balance amidst the chaos of greed?

    If there is anything that being a parent has taught me it’s that looking for someone else’s socks can make you suicidal. The other thing I learned is that children have a much greater capacity than adults to deal with disappointment. It may not seem that way at first. If I tell my kid “No you can’t watch Monster High while eating your leftover chemically ridden Valentine’s candy before bed,” she might scream for a moment in protest. This is where depending on my emotional capacity; I may give in just so she shuts the fuck up. But if I stay strong and deal with her momentary rebellion, she will forget about it, and move on. She doesn’t hold it against me. It’s not like The Munch will even bring it up again like, “remember that time you didn’t let me have that 3rd cookie?” No. She never says that shit. She just keeps living her life, not holding onto the past of her unfulfilled desires.

    Wanting shit is not the problem. It’s how we deal with not getting what we want is.

    The reason why kids move through their feelings with greater ease and grace is because they fundamentally think differently than adults. There is more space between their thoughts, because their egos aren’t as developed. The adult mind is dealing with CONSTANT chatter from the ego. Even right now as you read this very post your ego is still talking to you, judging what I say. Yet with kids, their egos aren’t as loquacious, leaving more room in their minds for observation and imagination.

    The more the mind is engaged with observing the world around us, the less energy is spent judging it. The more the brain is bouncing around creative concepts, the less it’s criticizing. So the solution to our all our problems is right in front of us. Think less by training your mind to observe, and through that you will find the wisdom of contentment in where you are in the moment – knowing it’s all a process and you’ll never truly be satisfied anyway.

    I think The Munch has tapped into this angst of mankind, and as such told me this glorious nighttime story.

    Munch: “Once upon a time there was a toilet, and this toilet was very sad. It was a sad toilet because no one was peeing in it, so it couldn’t drink pee, and no one was pooping in it, so it couldn’t eat poop. And that is the story of the sad toilet.”

    Am I raising a genius or what?

  • Change Your Loop, Change your Life!

    Do you ever wake up in the morning and think to yourself, “this again?” Don’t get me wrong, life is cool and all – but there is also this mundane aspect of existence that makes me wonder, what is the point? The day ahead of me is filled with so much repetition from the day before. I will wake up, go to the bathroom, drink coffee, go to the bathroom again, work, look in the mirror and contemplate my place in the world, go to the bathroom, then work some more. (You guys, I go to the bathroom a lot. Should I see a doctor?)

    We all have patterns to our days. If you were to track your self over the past couple of years, I’m sure your movements would create some sort of fractal of never ending repetition. Then something happens – you might move, get a new job, break up, get together, something… and that pattern is broken! But then a new configuration is created, and once again stuck in a paradigm of your own creation.

    Question: Are our human lives really that different from the robots of Westworld??! Another question: Do I watch too much TV?

    In Westworld the androids had their loops that they were stuck in, and the only way for them to get out was to have a shift of consciousness. We are JUST like that. The only way to change our loops is to have a moment that rocks our world so deeply, that we see everything slightly different. This will force us to live in a new way, because once you learn something, you can never unlearn it. Trust me… there is so much I wish I didn’t know about the pork industry, because hot dogs are delicious. But even though we escape one loop, that doesn’t mean we don’t enter into another. Maybe the key is not expecting to get out of our loops, but rather keeping evolving in our thinking so our loops end up looking more like spirals? So we don’t live our lives spinning in circles, or orbiting around the same problems, but rather moving up towards something new.

    But what does that mean to shift your consciousness? I don’t want to spurt annoying new age rhetoric. I would rather squirt solutions. (P.S If I die tomorrow; please put that on my gravestone).

    We are always going to have problems with our lives; the key is not having the SAME problems for years on end. Maybe shifting our consciousness means actually dealing with the problems in front of us, and getting a new set of problems? That seems doable right?

    Yet it’s scary to evolve because in order for that to happen, you have to put yourself in uncomfortable situations. The problem with that is that we Westerners LOVE being comfortable. We spend most of our time, money, and effort searching for comfort. Yet the irony is that we don’t remember the comfortable times of our lives, we remember the moments where we weren’t.

    I think that’s why I had a kid. Not because I like kids. The only kid I truly enjoy is the ones that remind me of me. I wanted to have a kid because I was curious about the challenge. When I got pregnant, my life felt flat, and I wasn’t sure where I was going with it. I wanted to get out of the loop I was in, because it had no real meaning to it. I was lost and there was something profound about the idea of pregnancy and birth – a right of passage I wanted to go through. Birth is one of the most cosmic acts a person can experience. You create a life inside your body, and then eject it out into the universe. It’s a spiritual activity, like yoga, meditation, talking about different ways to prepare bok choy, or eating a 90% cacao chocolate bar. But after that part was over, I was like, “holy shit, now there’s a human I have to take care of!”

    So then I entered into the loop of parenting, and I was relieved. I had a whole new set of problems that didn’t involve not “making it” in New York. It was so consuming, and my brain chemistry changed so all I cared about was my needy as hell baby. My baby became my life – especially because as a mother that thing was sucking off my fun bags all day. Yet there was something comforting about this phase of life because my world was so small. The only thing that mattered to me was keeping my baby alive, sleeping, and arranging my clothes so the barf wasn’t as noticeable. Then my infant became a toddler, and those things are still pretty high maintenance. Even though I had more time to myself, there was still a lot of work I had to do to socialize my kid not to be an asshole.

    But now that The Munch is 6, I’m kind of done parenting. At least until she starts doing drugs and blowing boys. There are some responsibilities I still have – like being her short order cook and carrying her crap around like a Sherpa – but I no longer have to be this warden of her behavior. She’s basically pretty cool. Her conditioning has mostly been implemented, so we don’t fight about much, nor are there tantrums or emotional conflicts. We’ve come to understand each other’s boundaries. She knows she can eat treats if she eats vegetables first, so we don’t have to have battles about her sugar addiction. She gets that her mom needs things to be compulsively clean and respects that, just as I know that it’s best not to interfere with her wardrobe or laundry and let her wear what she wants – which is the same thing every day. We’re in this sweet spot where she’s kind of like a roommate I have to sometimes insist takes a bath.

    I think a lot of people like the parenting loop, which is why they keep having kids. Caring about your children’s well being is a noble way to spend your days! You don’t have to question your value, because there is an indisputable worth of being a good parent. I really enjoyed that phase of life, because it was a loop that was filled with a lot of obvious love and appreciation from my kid. There was much The Munch taught me about the nature of humanity, and the psychological development of people. Also, her presence made me SUPER appreciative of my time in a way that having more freedom never would. I am sooo much more focused than before. I can seriously accomplish more in one hour, then I used to in an entire day when I had nothing but myself to think of.

    Yet I am more terrified now of getting pregnant than I was as a teenager, because now I know what it actually takes. For me, the loop of parenting was also driving me nutty. With this hyper focus my child had given me came with it a driving ambition that has taken over my psyche. Maybe creating a life made me a more creative person, so thanks for that kid, but now I’ve got some work to do! I really like my child, and I’m SUPER glad to know her – but I am ready to do without all this parenting!

    Now The Munch has her own life, her own friends, and doesn’t need me in the same way that she did. She’s good to go. I mean I can’t leave her alone with the oven on or anything, but I’m not worried about her feeling abandoned if I pursue my dreams. You guys… I am officially entering into a new loop! My world has expanded, and it’s a relief, but also terrifying. Hopefully soon I will have a whole new set of problems to complain about!!!

    toni-outside-with-glasses

    December 22, 2016 • 6 years old, ambitions, Musings, Parenting • Views: 687