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  • Men That Are Part of The Solution

    Throughout these past few weeks of Weinstein and #metoo, I keep craving for men to participate more in the conversation. I know I am not alone in this. I think we all know that we cannot change rape culture with women solidarity alone. We need alliances with men. In order for the deeply engrained patriarchal messaging to change, it is crucial that men are willing to look at themselves, their own behavior, and ask themselves hard questions. I’ve had many private conversations with men that have started to contemplate their part in this zeitgeist, and wonder about their past in a new light.

    It’s hard for me to say that men are born rapey. I know too many little boys for me to chalk rape culture up to testosterone. Last night I was with my friend and her small son, and he peed his pants. She asked if I could watch him while she ran to the car to get clean clothes, and there I was, staring at this 4-year old little boy with no pants. He was holding his shirt up with his one hand to avoid getting pee on it, and then holding his dick with the other. We looked at each other, and he tugged on his dick a bit while maintaining direct eye contact. I asked him what he was going to be for Halloween. He told me a ninja. I went into some stories of my past Halloweens to continue the conversation. I told him of trick-or-treating in the city, scarfing candy to the point of vomiting, and of course how my mom would eat my favorite chocolates while I was at school. When this kid’s mom came back with clean pants, he then relayed to her EVERYTHING I had told him. He recounted my stories in exact detail, sharing my joys and pains with his mom with the empathy of Mother Theresa. This little boy listened to me intently – despite his dick in his hand. THAT IS THE POTENTIAL OF MEN YOU GUYS!

    Men are not born monsters. I mean fine, some are. Some people are born with the desire to eat other people. There are some fucked up brains out there, and it doesn’t matter who their parents are, or what school they went to – they are going to do absolutely insane shit like keep a freezer full of heads. Some atrocities can’t be explained through conditioning, society, or the patriarchy… but those cases are the extreme.

    Since rape culture and sexual assault is SO PERVASIVE THAT EVERY SINGLE WOMAN I KNOW HAS EXPERIENCED IT MULTIPLE TIMES… there is something beyond brain chemistry fueling this. Too many men have been perpetrators. This is not purely a phenomenon of some bad eggs… but rather a ubiquitous energy that affects us all.

    Culture at large, the patriarchy, and our rapey economic system entwined with the corporate and political agenda that backs it up are CRUCIAL ASPECTS OF RAPE CULTURE. (I wrote about this in detail last week). We live in a society propped up by a system of exploitation. The patriarchy of course oppresses women, but also men – even though few of them are the obvious beneficiaries of it. If you are not part of the 1% of men that the patriarchy is designed for, then you’re just as negatively impacted, but in a different way.

    Men internalize the patriarchy different than women. They are brought down by feelings of insecurity and failure. For me as a woman to not succeed in the patriarchy, fine whatever, it’s not intended for me. I know that. If I were to succeed in life it would be despite the patriarchy, not because of it. But for men to not succeed, you’re an extra loser. The powerlessness I feel in being an economic failure is easily explained by a rampant sexist culture that has been at play for thousands of years. For men to feel powerless, when they are technically the ones with the power, it is a distinct feeling of weakness.

    Many men act out this deep seeded insecurity and self-flagellation onto women. They take out their rage of feeling pathetic onto those they can easily exploit. They seek the power they lack by overpowering others. Yet even though I’m not going to feel bad for a raper, I would rather be raped then live with raping someone. I would rather be the victim of violence than the perpetrator. I can live with myself after being raped, sexually assaulted, and violated. I don’t have the guilt of doing that to someone else. These aren’t fun memories for anyone of course. They’re horrible and they eat away at you. But when I’m lying on my deathbed I’m not going to be filled with regret for being a horrible person. I don’t care who you are. But when you’ve denigrated and hurt others, you will have to face that when you’re dying. You can run from it your whole life, but you can’t run forever. It will catch up to you. I don’t know if you’ve ever been around a dying rapist, but I have – and let me tell you, there is a fear in their eyes I will never have.

    The patriarchy is the guiding force at play, yet we women also prop it up. As painful as that is, and as much I can say that we are brainwashed so of course that happens – it’s still a fact we have to face. Its already circumcised women that circumcise girls – women that have personally gone through that pain and suffering then perpetuate it in the name of tradition. The women carry on the practice. It’s white women that voted Trump into office. (Sorry I just gagged). There are women that are part of the “Men’s Rights Movement.” Women are married to Donald Trump and Harvey Weinstein. Women may be programmed by the patriarchy yes – but not all of us are. Many of us are fighting.

    Men too are encoded by the patriarchy, but some of them are trying to break free from the matrix as well. We need to come together, but in order for us to do that, we have to work with the men that are opening their eyes trying to change things.

    As I woman I want men to be my ally. In order for men to understand their destructive behavior towards women they have to 1) look out how culture at large has shaped them, and 2) understand their own personal context.

    Which leads me to a post I recently read on Facebook by Daniel Pinchbeck. In the post he attempts to understand himself, and why he acted in ways towards women that was sexually inappropriate. He didn’t break any laws, or act in a way that would get in him jail, but we all know there is a major gray area when it comes to sexually violating someone. Not everything you do that would abuse a woman is illegal.

    Pinchbeck goes deep into his life experience, trying to understand the primal wounds of his childhood that were at play in his adult decisions. He talks about his relationship with his mother, some memories of his grandmother that involved forced enemas, and how he was in a full body cast from ages 10-11. His effort seemed to me to dig into the personal framework that shaped him. He talks of the impact of other men and how they treated women, as well as his experience of how fame gave him access to women he never had before. To me this was an attempt for a man to publically own up to his part of rape culture, apologize for it, and try to understand how he came to be part of it in the first place. The most important sentence he wrote was, “I want to clear this thoroughly and thoughtfully. I would like to ask any woman who has felt wronged by me to contact me directly or through an intermediary, if she would like. We can discuss in private or we can use mediators if that seems best. I appreciate those who have written to me already.”

    That feels sincere to me. I read that as not as, “hey I fucked up, but I have mommy issues so it’s not my fault,” but rather, “I know this Facebook post is only the tip of the iceberg and I want the actual woman that have ever felt violated by me to know that I am fully wanting to work together, admit my faults, and at least plant the seeds for healing.” None of this is perfect, but there is no guidebook for how to deconstruct yourself. Pinchbeck’s effort is what I felt was the most important. This is not a man that is running from his past, but towards it.

    To me, this is an example of what I want men to be doing. It’s not flawless. It’s messy. But yeah, so is all of life. If any of the men that sexually violated me reached out to say, “Hey, I know I really fucked up and I would love to talk about how to heal,” I would be ready to listen. Not for them, but for me. It’s better than dealing with it all alone, as these events I try not to think about too much because the memories make my body cringe.

    I started looking through the comments of his post, and some people were supportive, and others were so shitty! Just tearing him down for saying anything. Page 6 even wrote an article saying that Pinchbeck was trying to blame women for his sexual misconduct. Page 6! The same mother fuckers that defended Weinstein for years is now calling out a dude trying to be part of the solution under the guise of feminism, or sticking up for women.

    Feminism is about finding genuine equality between the genders. Part of that process is making space for men to look at their own home lives, how they were parented, how they were mothered, and question how it effected their sexuality. If I said publically that the way my parents treated me impacted my sexual identity, no one would question that. Isn’t feminism allowing men to do the same? Isn’t that equality? For Pinchbeck to wonder how his personal story impacted his actions I think is something we all have to do. We must understand our primal wounds as children in order to comprehend our adult selves.

    As parents, we are going to make an impact on our kid’s sexuality. Of course we are. Parents influence every aspect of our children, and even though no one likes to think of their child as a sexual creature, they are. I didn’t see Pinchbeck as blaming his mom, or women, but asking questions around how he was raised. He was trying to understand his past and how internalized behaviors he didn’t understand when he was a kid.

    People abuse PC-ness and become vicious when ripping other’s apart in the name of victimness. Yes it’s important that we have a culture shift that is more sensitive, but that does not give people a blank card to violently bash others in the name of justice. How is that progress?

    If we attack men opening up about their regrets for not doing it EXACTLY right, how does that inspire other men to do the same? We need men to be doing more of this, not less!! If the response is to demonize them rather than asking questions to FURTHER the conversation, then we’re just making men more indignant. We need men to open up and be vulnerable, and if we shit on them when they’re trying, we’re only discouraging others.

    We need a foundation to start from – a platform for healing to begin. That starts with men feeling that there is room for them to be vulnerable, and open up. Their first try may not be watertight, but it’s a start. From there we keep talking, keep unwinding, and keep unraveling the thread of the patriarchy that has tied us all up in a web of misery.

  • Men are Not The Enemy

    Ugh!! These #meetoo stories of sexual assault are fucking me up! Every single woman I know has experienced some sort of sexual violation in her life – EVERY SINGLE ONE!

    With how many stories are being shared you’d think that all men are committing these acts of violence. Yet I feel like I know plenty of dudes that not perpetrators? Right guys? Maybe there are just some really prolific creepy dudes out there dispersing their rapey ways to a lot of victims? Perhaps for every ten stories women tell of some heinous behavior they all stem back to one inexhaustible dude. I want to believe the ratio isn’t as bad as it seems, and it’s more that shitty dudes are shitty to many women rather than most dudes are shitty.

    I wonder what it feels like to be a man right now? How a man that has sexually assaulted a woman- but is regretful- feels when he sees these posts. Do they ignite his empathy? Or inspire him to reach out to the woman he’s hurt and acknowledge his actions? How does a man react that has abused women, but lives in denial about it? Is he becoming more indignant and hateful? Do these women revealing their stories of pain open his eyes to the hurt he’s caused, or just make them seem like whiney bitches? Or what about the man that has never been creepy but is dealing with the burden of gender responsibility? Is he feeling defensive of his male counterparts, or horrified by their actions? I guess I understand that last guy the most because I do live with the guilt of being a white devil. But still, it can’t be easy to have a dick right now.

    I keep hearing arguments of people wanting to excuse the behavior of sexually deviant men through the lens of biology. This pervasive sentiment of, “Yeah it sucks, but that’s the way men are so what can we do about it?” attitude. This type of thinking is predicated on the assumption that because men have exterior genitals, bouncing around on their thighs all day begging to be burrowed in some hole, that they are going to act out sexually as a consequence. Because of this anatomical condition of “dick needing to be satisfied,” these men can’t control their sexual urges. So of course when your face looks like a shoe and you finally have some power to exploit, you’re going to try and fuck Gwyneth Paltrow. These things happen.

    I feel like there are a lot of holes in this logic. Now, I’m not a historian or anything, but I think men have a much greater predisposition to kill not rape. We didn’t evolve from a “raping and gathering” society… but a “HUNTING and gathering” one. Hunting is much more engrained in the male DNA then raping. For thousands of years men killed the shit out not only giant animals like Wooly Mammoths, but also that dude Zog from the neighboring tribe that looked at you funny from behind that rock and because you can’t speak to each other besides grunting – fuck that guy. You don’t know him. You’d spear the shit out of Zog and then continue with you day. There were no lawyers or murder trials in the early days of human history. Accountability for homicide didn’t happen until the ancient Greeks 2,500 years ago. Before that, you could kill anyone you wanted or deemed a threat, and then go home to your cave and eat supper.

    Yet I don’t here people saying in murder cases, “Well, men did evolve to kill, so they just got that blood thirst. Let him have a few sips.”

    NO!

    We have a pretty clear expectation that men should not kill people (unless of course you’re fighting some government provoked war to expand our Empire, or if you’re a police officer killing an unarmed black man. But let’s not get lost in semantics). There is a pretty obvious expectation to not kill each other; even though biologically killing is how we advanced into the species we are today.

    The other problem with justifying rape culture with the rational, “this is the way men are,” is the very wrong assumption that men like sex more than women. Nope. Not true at all. Just because my genitals are tucked in like a suitcase and not flopping around in front of me, doesn’t mean I enjoy or want sex any less than a man. In fact there were plenty of nights that I went out of my house with the sole purpose to find sex. Yet not one of those evenings consisted of me trying to cup a dude’s balls without his consent, or batting his dick around while he was trying to order a drink.

    Men aren’t rapey because they have testes, or because they like sex more. Men are rapey towards women because they view women as objects. They see women as pussies, not people. The patriarchy has insisted women are property to be taken care of by men for thousands of years. Just because we started working and voting a few decades ago unfortunately doesn’t take away that branding. When men treat women like sexual playthings invented purely for their own pleasure, (and care nothing of the pleasure or interest of the woman), it stems from a dehumanizing process that has been in place for millennia. But we can’t confuse social systems with biological imperatives. Just because it’s been this way, doesn’t mean it has to be. This conditioning is a consequence of learned behaviors, not inevitable ways of being. Just like men learned not to enslave people, they can also learn not to rape them. It’s a matter of shifting the consciousness.

    But men are also rapey towards other men and kids. Now what’s that all about?

    Now since I’ve never sexually assaulted a person, so I admit, there is a lot I don’t know about the impetus. But is seems to me that the other person NOT wanting your advances is part of the turn on. The fact that you’re doing something they don’t want, but you do want and you’re getting away with it, is part of the rush. That power you have over them fuels the desire, and is only enflamed by knowing you’re taking advantage of someone weaker.

    Again I think this has to do with socialization. Men have been in power for all of written human history. Power is a part of the masculine identity. Wanting power over another person is the foundation of most of the systems that rule us. Governments and capitalism are built on power over others. This is the social structure we’ve developed, so of course it’s going to get played out sexually. Sexuality is a reflection of culture, and in case you haven’t watched the news in your life, the world is a pretty ferocious place full of people seeking power over other people.

    The concept of wanting power over others is rooted in the structures that we’ve come to accept of how society functions. Until we develop a more cooperative system that is not top down, but rather a collective community of equal and shared responsibility, chances are there are going to be plenty of individuals mimicking the energy at play. If we live in a patriarchy run by a few wealthy men who suck up the majority of the earth’s resources for the benefit of the elite, we’re going have some rapers out there raping people. Yet when we open our minds to a new social structure that isn’t run by the tyrannically forces of the oligarchy and instead honors the need for global collaboration, then we’ll most likely have a hell of a lot less rapers.

    One of the most functional societies in the animal kingdom are ants – and they don’t have a boss bossing them around all day. There is no king, just a queen farting out babies. Ants don’t have a top down colony; they work together as equals and are the most efficient creatures on the planet because of it. When you have a “leader” as an organizational structure, that leader has to constantly re-enforce his power. The “alpha male” of the monkey species doesn’t just chill all day eating bananas. Nope. He has to remind everyone he is the fucking king all day by beating up scrawnier monkeys and trying to fuck all the ladies. That sounds exhausting. Most of the time spent being a leader is reminding everyone that you’re the fucking leader because the second anyone has a moment to think about it, they’re like, “hey this sucks, what the fuck?” Then the leader tries to kill or fuck someone and they’re like “fine whatever.” But the last time I checked, we’ve evolved quite a bit from the monkeys we came from, so maybe we could re-think this way of organizing ourselves. Just like we can change our minds and decide that we actually do like goat cheese, we have the power to change the way we think. So even the rapey dudes out there could become less rapey, if even not rapey at all.

    All men are not the enemy. There are lots of men that want the same changes in society that women do, because they too feel the insanity. There are even men that have fallen into the traps but are beginning to see the error of their ways, and are trying to get out. We got to pull those dudes up! If their arms are extended, grab one! We have to be flexible to the possibility that a lot of this horrible behavior they wish they hadn’t done too. If we are open to forgiving them, maybe they will be more open to apologizing and changing?

    But of course there are going to be some guys that burrow deeper into the cave of darkness trying desperately to hold onto a past paradigm. They will dig their heels in and believe that women deserved whatever tragedy had befallen them. They will continue to commit acts of misogyny and violence again and feel totally justified. They will champion men, and further denounce the rights of women – hence the every growing men’s right’s movement. And to those guys… ummm… hmmm… wow…. Lemme think… Jeeze… Good luck to you, and may the best man win.

  • It’s Too Stressful To Care

    For those of you that don’t live in the North East, New England has been having a glorious global warming fall. It’s been so unseasonably warm that I swam across the lake last week. That’s an hour-long swim that I took in late September – sponsored by Big Oil!

    Because I live in the soon to be Tundra of New Hampshire, I’ve been trying to appreciate all these uncharacteristic warm fall days. I push it out of my mind that this is all a consequence of greenhouse emissions being trapped in the atmosphere, because greenhouse gases sound kind of environmental no? How can they be bad if the word GREEN is used to describe them?

    On Sunday The Munch went to a birthday party, and I figured she would be so pumped full of sugar/GMO candy/cake that spending the afternoon at the playground wouldn’t be a bad idea. Munch climbed into the car with her bag full of candy, and I was emotionally prepared for her to eat the majority of it.

    Munch: Mom, we got all this chemical candy from the Piñata at the birthday party!
    Toni: I see that love.
    Munch: I tried one piece and I didn’t like it. It was too chemically. I’m not going to eat this chemical candy. It’s gross.

    Okay, first of all, I can’t believe my indoctrination has worked this well. My kid is so conditioned to believe that chemicals in your food are bad, that she wouldn’t even eat her Gummy Bears. I felt a deep pride that The Munch respects me enough to not only listen to my opinions, but also adopt my values as her own. Yet another part of me wanted her to eat all that chemical candy because fuck authority Munch!!!

    Once at the park, I saw some friends collected together at picnic blanket. I went and joined them, happy to experiencing this lovely day in this quaint community. The whole scene was really sweet. Children playing in the sun, mom’s watching their kids frolic while talking about G-spot orgasms. You know, the usual.

    We were having a good time is the point. Then somehow we started talking about the news and what was going on in Puerto Rico.

    Friend 1: I think that I need to be more informed about stuff.
    Friend 2: Ugh. I can’t. It’s too stressful. I only have so much empathy. It’s hard to have empathy. Things are always happening somewhere. It’s too much. That’s why I live here – in this bubble. I live in this bubble so I don’t have to care.

    Okay so here is where shit starts to get allllllll fucked up.

    Now I had a LOT of opinions about the above statement. A LOT! But I also didn’t know this person very well. It felt super awkward to disagree with someone so violently that I wasn’t even sure I’d met before – especially because we weren’t alone. It’s one thing to have a debate one on one, it’s another thing to school someone in public. And because I am such a people pleaser, it’s hard for me to knowingly make others uncomfortable. Yet at the same time, isn’t my being a people pleaser also about me pleasing myself because I don’t want to make myself uncomfortable because someone else is uncomfortable?

    The second more humiliating problem was just like this person felt it was too stressful to know about the world, I felt it was too stressful to provoke an argument about the 2,000,000,000 ways I disagreed with her. Just like she wanted to live in the bubble of not caring about the rest of the world’s suffering, I wanted to live in the bubble of not having to care about a middle class white woman that thinks it’s okay to not care about the world because you live in a fucking bubble.

    DO YOU SEE THE IRONY!!!!!

    As much as she didn’t want to have to care about the world, was as much as I didn’t want to have to care about her not caring about the world. Just like she wanted to enjoy her day not giving a shit about Puerto Rico, I wanted to enjoy my day not giving a shit about her not giving a shit!

    AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

    There was also this feeling I had of total impotence. I had no idea how to tell her that she should care about people. I felt the same impotence for that situation that I feel about the trauma that is going on in the world. The same impotence she probably feels about the trauma of the world. There is so much violence, destruction, and gratuitous misery. It’s not like I don’t understand that feeling of not wanting to feel. Yet even though I don’t want to feel, I still feel I have to put myself in the face of feeling.

    Another one of my friends who shares my political beliefs was sitting next to me during this fateful moment. We both just got really quiet and looked down at the grass. My high functioning autism kicked in, and I refused to make eye contact. My social anxiety and fear of confrontation took over my physical form. As much as I wanted to scream, I also wanted to cry. The silence permeated the group. It was obvious that we didn’t agree, and my friend made the suggestion that you really don’t have to do that much to be a quasi-active person or be helpful to others. There were some vague agreements on that, and then the conversation shifted to food politics. If there is anything that white middle class people that live in a bubble can get behind, it’s organic farming.

    I left the park feeling both traumatized caught off guard by this chick’s ignorance. I didn’t have the energy to say anything. I didn’t know how to change her mind, or express my thoughts in a way that wasn’t aggressive. So I helplessly said nothing.

    This is the problem with humanity. We are sheep. Sheep that passively mill around, waiting to be devoured by the corporate and political systems we willingly allow to control us. Flocking about, unconcerned that the wolves lurking in the shadows are ones we’ve actively surrendered to. Yet expecting us to not be sheep may be unrealistic. Adaptation and sheepness have been a major part of our evolution. The fact that we are easily led around by the sheep dog we elect is why we were able to become the successful parasites on the earth that we see today. If humans weren’t sheep, there would be such constant dissent, bickering, questioning, and pontificating that we wouldn’t get much done. Because most of us are sheep, we can be easily organized and controlled. Being sheep is how we’ve been able have the so-called progress of the industrial revolution. There were plenty of sheep to work mindless jobs in factories. Our sheep ways have made it possible to for the few to control the many for thousands of years. We sheep have built pyramids, gone to war, and paved the way for John D. Rockefeller and Mark Zucerberg to have taken over our bodies and minds. It is our sheep ways that have been crucial for the invention of all modern technology and artificial intelligence so the robots will soon rule the planet.

    Yet if we accept our sheep ways, that doesn’t mean we have to be ignorant sheep. We can be knowing sheep- sheep that are interested in evolving. The ability to adapt to our environment was a crucial part of our evolution at one point. The ability to adapt our environment to us was the next crucial aspect of our evolution. Now we have the need to re-imagine our environment because at this is exact moment the earth is trying to shake us off the planet like a wet dog with fleas.

    All animals evolve. We are evolved animals. Now we have to become evolved humans.

    If you are an American, you are one of the privileged people on the planet. If you are white and middle class, you are even more privileged. You can’t have the rational that you were born into a bubble and therefor entitled to stay in that bubble. That bubble was built off the blood of others. That bubble is not clean. No one deserve’s to live in a bubble.

    I benefit off the imperialist and colonialist actions of the United States. Whether I want the government to be secretly destroying Yemen in a covert war or not, I still benefit off of those actions. Even if I don’t want poor black Americans to be incarcerated for absurd drug laws designed to imprison them and force generations into slave labor for the prison industrial complex, I still benefit from those actions. Even if I don’t want Puerto Rico to be drowning, I still benefit from our President refusing adequate financial aid.

    No matter what I want to be happening, all the despicable acts of our government still benefit me, and therefor it’s my goddamn responsibility to give a shit. Poverty, starvation, lack of access to clean water – this is not how life has to be. These atrocities are in direct correlation to political corruption and greed, not because it’s inevitable. The world has the resources for every human to live a descent life with access to the basic amenities. The fact that billions are denied this right is a choice. It is because of misdistribution and a deliberate withholding.

    In America, a large percentage of us can afford to learn and care about the well being of others. Most of us are not in survival mode, wondering if we will ever eat again. For those people, the 20% of American’s that live below the poverty line – I get it, you’re busy. You have yourself to worry about. That’s cool. You have the right to not tear your hair out because of global injustice. But for the rest of us, if you have time to be on Facebook, you have time to care and do shit for others.

    Here’s the lake and sunset that day I swam across… it’s a pretty bubble

  • 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??

  • Generation Blame Game

    Over the summer I performed at a dance festival and let me tell you – there is nothing quite like sharing a dressing room with a bunch of teenage girls. Not only because their boobs are barely below their shoulders they’re so perky, but more because the amount of texting, Snapping, Facebooking, Instagramming, and tweeting was so extreme that I wondered if they had wifi signals coming out of their nipples. I barely had service??

    I can’t criticize the children of today because they are victims of our society. Millenials didn’t create iPhones – Baby boomers did. It’s the generations before you that produce the technology that you’re born into. It’s the humans that came before you that decide the moral compass you’re supposed to adhere to. People create ideologies, think of scientific advancements, pontificate on ethics, ponder human health, opine about systems, and then test their inevitably flawed conclusions on their kids.

    We’re all just the experiments of our parents and the generation that raised us.

    Humans are still evolving and it’s happening more rapidly than ever since the industrial revolution. My kid was born knowing how to swipe through pictures and navigate Netflix. This only exaggerates these feelings of disconnect between generations. I am not THAT much older than a millennial, you could even say I am on the cusp, but I feel like an anthropologist around them – like a modern day Jane Goodall in the forest of a tattoo parlor. I observe them with a slight confusion as I scribble into my notepad; “The subject will post on Snap Chat while getting tattooed. Fascinating.”

    Each generation raises a generation that ends up feeling foreign to them, and I think that’s because we tend to forget that we are all products of our conditioning. In order for me to understand millenials, I have to fully grasp the world Baby Boomers have created for them to adapt to. Baby Boomers are the ones in power. They run our politics, industry, and Wall Street. At the top of most pyramids is a Baby Boomer, perched with their golden rattle like good ol’ Donny Trump – our king.

    I’m the child of baby boomers, and in my view, it’s my parent’s fault they handed me a trashcan of a world. We supposedly have 3 years left to save humanity from Climate Change. The world may be too hot for my kid to survive!!!!! Except for the hippies who fought for our rights in the 60’s, most of Boomers turned out to be the most consumerist, money hungry, self-centered people in history. They didn’t stop global warming – they accelerated it with their greed. When they came to power they gave up their acid and disco balls and paved the path for the economic and ecological tragedy of today.

    Yet that’s not fair of me! It’s not like the baby boomers are beings formed from Immaculate Conception. They are the products of their parenting. The common belief is that the boomers were too coddled by their parents. Supposedly The World War 2 generation, or the so-called “greatest generation” spoiled their kids so significantly that they had no perspective. Huh? I’m not so sure about that. I don’t know about you guys, but my Word War 2/ Great Depression grandparents weren’t exactly cuddly loving people. They’re a little rough around the edges. Sure, maybe they spoiled their kids with material goods – but the Baby Boomers were some traumatized infants.

    Because so many women were popping out babies like pop tarts, the medical industrial complex came up with a new way to birth babies. So a lot of the births during the 50’s and 60’s were twilight births. Now that may sound kinda dreamy… but basically it was out of the Twilight Zone. They would drug the mother to the point where she had zero memory of the birth. None. She was just knocked the fuck out. Then when she came to, they just handed her the baby. Now… this may come as a surprise, but a lot of mothers had trouble bonding with their baby after being dosed with disturbing amounts of morphine.

    These women were then encouraged to exclusively bottle feed their babies with formula. Not even try breastfeeding. Now formula is great when you need it. But half the babies in the 1950’s were raised completely on it. So we have these boomer babies with their disturbing births, their formula diets, and then here is the kicker – the conventional wisdom of that time according to behavioral psychologists was to… wait for it… hold your baby as little as possible!!!!! Yeah. Don’t cuddle your baby. Don’t hold it when it doesn’t need to be held. Nope. That will make them a pussy! Not being held builds character.

    Let me just remind you, that not being touched enough as an infant was later proven to do major and irreversible psychological damage. Touch is just as important to our health as food and water!!! So yeah, maybe the Baby Boomers had more material goods than their parents, but they were neglected as fuck as babies. And look what happened! We are on the verge of extinction now!

    Because boomers where emotionally abandoned that explains a lot of their psychology. Where boomers would let their kids crawl around in the back seat of cars, we modern parents will strap up our kids in car seats as if they were Hannibal Lector. Is that because modern parents are inherently anal? Or because we know more? Or because the “big seatbelt” industry has taken over? Or perhaps we are reacting to the trauma of our own childhoods by over compensating?

    I may question some (a lot) of my parent’s parenting decisions, but I can’t blame them without educating myself on their context. They didn’t have the information we have today, nor did they have the bandwidth to go the library and research the apocalyptic times they were creating. My mom didn’t have the Internet to inspire her to wonder what kind of chemicals were in my shampoo, if my Halloween candy was organic, or if there were razor blades in my apples. She would just be like, “I don’t know, take a bite and find out?”

    The more I understand my parent’s parents, the more I can understand my parents. But for my parents to understand me, they have to understand themselves.

    So what kind of kids are the current generation of parents going to create? Ones that will be so afraid of their own shadow that they willingly submit themselves to a virtual reality Matrix where they never see the light of day? Maybe? I don’t know! I for sure see that modern parents are uptight, but they also started a movement of Attachment parenting – which admittedly may not be very Buddhist of them – but they hold the fuck out of their babies. So we can judge them for being overbearing, but at the same time let’s leave the breastfeeding Time magazine mom alone. Who cares if her 6-year old kid barely had to get on his tippy toes for a sip? That kid may have had to experience some questionable boners, but I’m pretty fucking sure he’s going grow into a sensitive man who believes in universal healthcare.

    Snapping while getting tattooed!!

  • Holy Shit I’m Getting Body Dysmorphia!

    Do you guys have a good relationship to your body? Have you always? Mine has waxed and waned, much like the moon, or a vagina.

    When I was a kid I was SUPER skinny. Picture a skeleton, but with skin, and on roller skates singing along to Bell Biv Devoe. I was very tall, thus stretched out, and basically malnourished. I love you mom and dad – you’re great in every way except in how you fed me my poison. My parents were busy, and didn’t really notice that I pounded pounds of candy for dinner. The “food” I ate was often Chef Boyardee, aka microwavable dog food for children. My mom is saying to herself right now as she reading this, “But Toni, that’s what you wanted for school lunch,” and my retort to that is – 7 year olds are idiots that smell their fingers after they stick them up their butts. DON’T LET THEM DECIDE WHAT IS GOOD FOR THEM!

    I was self-conscious about how thin I was because people would often remark on it. But then again, I was also high as fuck on high fructose corn syrup so I was also trying to chew off my own ear. I didn’t see being skinny as desirable, and would have preferred a more robust figure with greater padding so my butt didn’t get so soar on a sea saw.

    Then in the 5th grade I went to camp for the first and only time in my life. For whatever reason I wanted the life experience, probably because my mom thought it was funny to wear “Magnum Condom” T-shirts to pick me up from school. At camp I didn’t have any friends because everyone had been going their whole lives, and I was just the new girl that never got any mail. Finally one girl befriended me, but she was also anorexic – but who was I to be choosy! The only thing this girl would eat was shredded carrots and Italian dressing. Yet because she was my friend, I did it too in solidarity. When my parents came to pick me up they couldn’t see me at first because I was standing sideways. I obviously didn’t need to lose that weight, but I did learn that starving yourself is a pretty effective method.

    Then when I got to high school I started, you know, banging dudes. My mom put me on birth control so I wouldn’t become a teen mom. LITTLE DID SHE KNOW SHE RUINED MY CAREER AND I COULD HAVE HAD MY OWN TV SHOW ON MTV!

    Once I got on the pill I started packing on some pounds. At first it was cool. For the first time I had big boobs, and an ass. I also cried everyday for an hour because of the excessive hormones but did I mention my big tits!!!?? WORTH IT!

    Because I had grown up so excessively skinny, I also was in the habit of eating like a football player. My appetitive was massive. Yet once I was a teenager on the pill and eating for two despite my non-pregnancy, it didn’t exactly translate. But at first I didn’t really notice. My weight was first brought to my attention when I was hostessing at a restaurant at age 16, and every day after I work I would get a brownie sundae because of course I did. Then one fateful Friday one of the older waitresses was watching me eat with a look of apprehension.

    Waitress: You know – you probably shouldn’t eat a brownie sundae everyday like that.
    Toni: Are we talking about the same thing? Because I think eating a brownie sundae everyday is goddamn delicious.
    Waitress: Yeah, but you’re gonna get, you know…

    Then she blew up her cheeks to indicated “fat.”

    That was the first time in 16 years that I thought food could make me fat!

    I didn’t see myself as chubby, but I started to think I had to “watch what I ate.” Then I was approached by dude to “model” because I was the right height and must have had that dead look in my eye that said “I hate myself enough to do anything to please you.” but he told me that I had to lose anywhere between “15-120” pounds to make it to my ideal weight… my birth weight.

    I then developed another complex. Before I felt too skinny, but now I wasn’t feeling skinny enough!

    To deal I pulled from the memories of camp deprivation, and the effectiveness of eating nothing. For the entire summer after graduating high school I ate nothing but a can of tuna fish a day. My friend had told me the “Atkins Diet” was the best way to lose weight, and so I figured mercury poisoning was a sure fire path.

    For the next 11 years I had a weird relationship to food. Was it an easting disorder? I was probably on the spectrum, much like I am with my high functioning autism. Who are all these confident people out there who can look everyone in the eye!? I wouldn’t say I was constantly suffering over my relationship with food, but it was also somewhat disordered. I was never as extreme of my 3 months of losing 1/3 my body mass, but it was off. I would think a lot about food. What did I eat that day? Was it too much? Does that mean I should eat nothing tomorrow to balance it out? It was in a cycle of binging and starving… plus I smoked a LOT of bong hits so I wasn’t exactly making the best choices at 2 am.

    It was stressful!! Being anxious about food sucked because I LOVE eating. Plus, I think the tension I felt made food hard to metabolize. I never enjoyed eating without feeling some sort of guilt around it – or obsessively questioning myself. The psychology around eating was not helpful for my body in any way. Even though I was eating pretty healthy, I still felt like I was eating too much. I had this thing with my stomach, and always wanting it to be flat. So when I ate food, and my stomach would poof out trying to digest the nutrients – that would drive me crazy town. HOW DARE YOU STOMACH NEED SPACE TO PROCESS ALL THAT I HAVE PUT INSIDE OF YOU!

    Then I got pregnant. I could no longer have a “flat stomach” because there was a baby in there poking out. Just like that, I stopped caring about what I ate. Of course I INSISTED that everything was not only organic, but also harvested by fair trade gnomes, but other than that I ate whatever I wanted. When I was hungry I ate, and never thought about it again. I stopped thinking about food entirely except how yummy it was. I felt like what I assumed it felt like to be a guy. “Me stomach want food. Me stomach happy now that food in it.” I gained about 50 pounds when preggers and couldn’t have given less of a shit because HOLY FUCK MY TITS WERE MASSIVE!

    Then I had the baby and was breastfeeding. Now I don’t know if you’ve ever had a parasite suckle from your teat 70 times a day, but boy does that give you an appetite! So I ate when I was hungry, which was ALL DAY LONG. I would have two hamburgers for dinner no problem. I ate constantly and joyously.

    7-years after the birth of The Munch I still have a pretty ravenous appetitive, even though I only breastfeed when asked politely by random men on the Internet for money – it’s my side hustle. I eat what I feel like eating and never feel guilt about it because I need a lot of food to live my life! I move my body a lot, dancing, walking, doing yoga, and beating my head against the wall wishing I had Lena Dunham’s career – that burns more calories than you’d think. Yet since my pregnancy, I never went back to my previous relationship with food. My body creating and hosting a life gave me such a more profound relationship to it, and I was freed from the stress around eating. Because my psychology around eating has changed so drastically, I think my body processes food better. I don’t watch what I eat. I eat what I want when I want it. That involves, gluten, sugar, meat, cheese, pizza, meatball sammiches… I eat like a dude in high school but add some bok choy. Yet I had been feeling that my body was totally fine! I had no problems with it!!! NONE!

    UNTIL THE TICK!!!

    Now another thing worth mentioning is part of my total body acceptance has to do with the fact that I NEVER look in mirrors. We have a mirror at my dance studio of course, but I’m not looking at my body to pick it apart aesthetically. I’m looking at the whole package and how it moves as an instrument of art. It doesn’t occur to me to pinch my stomach fat, but rather I’m noticing if my arabesque has the right line, or if my butt could move faster while pumping it to Drake. At home I don’t have mirrors except in the bathroom and there’ll all kind of dirty and covered with pieces of food from flossing to close.

    But since my fucking TICK BITE, and my fear of having TICK STD’s I’ve had to search my body nightly to see if any tiny insect is sexually violating me with its tiny tick dick. I have to look in a mirror to make sure I’m not missing anything and… You guys it’s fucking me up!!!!

    I’m like wait what’s that mole on my back? Has that always been there? What’s up with my upper thighs? Is my butt okay… wait, can it move faster to Drake or not? But also is it okay looking?? Oh yes it can move faster, nice.

    I’m getting body dysmorphia trying to make sure I don’t have ticks on me! Looking in a mirror too much will drive you nuts!

    But I have a solution! I will use a flashlight and search for ticks in the dark instead… because then it’s like a fun nighttime party game that justifies getting wasted every night. THAT’S HEALTHY RIGHT!

    Here is the tick that bit me… under a microscope. The Lab that tested him for tick STD’s sent it to me. Sweet right!

    June 7, 2017 • Being Preggo, Breast Feeding, change, emotions, Health, pregnancy • Views: 986

  • 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

  • A Plea For Economic Social Terrorism

    Now that it’s no longer “International Women’s Day,” I notice that no one is thanking me for having a vagina. Where are all my Facebook shout outs for housing a womb to house a child? What kind of shit is this?

    The problem with the current state of activism is that social issues have become trendy. You’ll go on your Facebook newsfeed, and a gaggle of friends who think the same as you will post the same array of information. Once that trend get’s boring, it’s then no longer “cool” to post about. But social issues don’t go away just because they do on Facebook. There is still conflict in Palestine even when Banksy isn’t tagging walls.

    When causes become commodities for social capital, they may get a momentary bump in ratings, but they lose their audience once the next cause premiers on the red carpet. I went to an event the other day where these monks were talking about persecution in Tibet and their need for support and I was like, “Ummm no you’re wrong… Tibet is free, remember? I went to that concert in 1996.”

    We lose our stamina for social causes because we get protest fatigue, and then need Viagra for our activism. In the midst of our busy lives, it’s hard to schedule in “fight against tyranny.” Do I do that before or after I watch the OA? There is a sense of irony at play because the reason we agree to the concept of a goverenment in the first place is because most of us don’t WANT to think about the nuances of how a collective society functions. We prefer to defer to the Mommy and Daddy of our political system to take care of us, (or in our case in the U.S.A., mostly Daddy). Yet because we have given our power over to those that we assume “know better,” we then have to be even more diligent politically to make sure they don’t abuse their power. So in wanting freedom from the responsibility associated with having no government, we consequently lose our freedoms because of the corruption of government.

    As Trump tweets about which gender can fart in which bathroom, he’s simultaneously de-regulating business and allowing for a future of MAJOR environmental assault. Trump’s crusade against “fake news” has strangely inspired news outlets to report on their own fakeness rather than the fact that Trump’s making deals and longterm contracts for his businesses. The way this presidency is going to effect the future is terrifying when you think of how Trump prioritizes profit over the planet at every turn. Beyond Trump’s gross nature of giving chicks the “shocka,” this current regime has ZERO respect for the very real impact of business our ecosystem – which incidentally is the ONLY PLANET we have to live on. We are NOT Elon Musk and can’t afford Mars!

    Half the country is freaking out right now. We see the problematic nature of this Post-Apocalyptic Trump world, and want to do something. I like the spirit behind the call for strikes, but I think we can do more. One problem with the strategy of strikes is that if you are not of a certain social class, and believe you can’t make that kind of financial risk, you feel alienated. Also, there seems to be relatively wishy-washy outcomes. Why wasn’t there a specific demand for the strike on International Lady Day? How about women strike until the Supreme Court is ruled by a majority of women – much like it has been ruled by a majority of men since the birth of this cuntree? But the suggestion to “not go to work so guys realize how important we are” doesn’t exactly change the world. Simply wanting to be honored is too vague. We need be making clear demands, with clear outcomes, and clear deliverables. It’s not like the terrorists in Bruce Willis movies just want to be seen. No! They want x amount of cash, a private plane to get away, and to die just after hearing some pithy comeback like “yippee ka yay mother fucker.”

    So this is my plea: let’s engage in acts of economic social terrorism. I don’t think black people should pay taxes until reparations have been given, and the prison industrial complex has been abolished. I don’t think students should pay student loans until that exploitive system has been re-established and the cost of education brought down. I don’t think any of us should pay health insurance companies or our medical bills until we have universal health care. And if you are anti war, and believe that our military is one the LARGEST contributors to global warming, and terrorism, and is the greatest threat to the future of humanity, then do not pay the 21% of your taxes that go to supporting that system.

    If we all organize and refuse to participate in the economic structure that tyrannizes us, we will be heard. And guess what? There isn’t the infrastructure to come after us individually. It would be a bureaucratic nightmare. We could shut down the White House and Wall Street, and we don’t need guns to do it. We just need to be aligned.

    If we want change it’s not going to be through sporadic involvement. Change comes by kicking the system in the balls… where it hurts… with MONEY!