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  • 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: 2054

  • 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!

  • 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?

  • It’s Going to Hurt!

    We adult humans spend a good portion of our lives avoiding pain. When we get too cold, we most likely go inside to stop the discomfort of freezing fingers. When we’re too hot, we again go inside – but this time into chilly air-conditioned rooms. We take painkillers to dull the uncomfortable sensations in our bodies, and medicate our brains to ease the uncomfortable thoughts in our minds. We often don’t attempt physical risks in fear of injury, and will avoid relationships altogether that we think have the potential of breaking our hearts. And when we participate in golden showers, we do so in the comfort of a Ritz, not in a grimy a Holiday Inn.

    We run from pain because we fear it.

    Because of this pervasive trepidation of suffering, we socialize our children to avoid pain also. If you go to a playground, you will hear a chorus of parents shouting “careful,” over and over in a round – like an extra annoying version of “row row row your boat.” Parents are constantly trying to protect their children and keeping them from falling – forgetting that a face-plant is actually a pretty important part of learning. Sometimes falling off the monkey bars and getting the wind knocked out of you is a good thing. That way next time you’ll know to fall on top of another kid, to soften the impact.

    I guarantee you that the most crucial and life-changing moments of your existence were not your happiest – but rather overcoming something challenging. We don’t learn from ease, we learn from pain. When we breakthrough pain, we realize our own strength and resilience. That is how we grow and evolve. No one remembers the days that were super chill, nothing difficult happened, and someone served you bonbons on a golden plate. We instead remember the times a grown man pissed on a prostitute, or got pissed on by a prostitute.

    I think one of the greatest disservices that we can do to ourselves, or our kids, is thinking that life shouldn’t be painful – because guess what? IT’S GOING TO BE! The expectation that we can evade pain is not only unrealistic; it’s setting you up for a lifetime of disappointment. I don’t know about you, but I would rather know I can get through painful experiences than pretending life will shower nothing but prosperity upon me… because only then will I realize that I’m actually wet with urine.

    You guys… I just can’t stop with these references. It’s too special. Trump’s life is comedy gold…en shower.

    Back to the point. The other day The Munch got a splinter. Now there are two kinds of splinters in the world. A splinter that goes into your skin at a diagonal angle – which means it is easy to get out – and a splinter that goes into your skin at a 90 degree angle – which means your fucked.

    The Munch got a 90-degree splinter into the heel of her foot. I was out of town, and her dad called me to explain the situation. I told him to soak her foot in warm water to soften the skin… but I forgot to mention SOAPY warm water. So basically he put her foot in purely warm water, and immediately the wood expanded – making the splinter even harder to extract. He tried to get it out, but at that point it was too embedded.

    The next day I came back, and the splinter was still there despite many attempts, and holistic remedies. We tried olive oil, eggshell, banana peel, Epsom salts, whale sperm. Nothing worked. I could run my finger over the skin, and it wasn’t even poking out anymore. Anytime we tried to grab the end of the splinter with tweezers, the wood just splintered off. The Munch couldn’t walk, so there was no choice but to get it out, yet the question was how? I’m not sure if you’ve ever tried to take a splinter out of a 6-year olds foot, but it’s kind of like wrestling a rabid wolverine.

    Munch: Ow mom OW!!!!! Don’t touch it! IT HURTS!!!
    Me: Well I have to at least look at it…
    Munch: OW OW OW OW OW OW OW!! STOP NO OWWWWWWW!!
    Me: I can’t get it out if you keep moving around and kicking your foot!
    Munch: YOU’RE NOT BEING GENTLE!
    Me: I am trying to be… but if you don’t let me get it out, we will have to take you to the doctor to do it. You can’t walk, and it can get infected.
    Munch: NO WAY NO WAY NO WAY NO WAY!!! I AM NOT GOING TO THE DOCTOR!!!!!!
    Me: Then you’re going to have to let me do it.
    Munch: OW OW OW OW OW OW!!!
    Me: Dude you have to stop kicking!!!
    Munch: I CAN’T STOP KICKING BECAUSE YOU KEEP POKING AND HURTING ME!
    Me: Well, do you want to go the doctor then?
    Munch: NO NO NO NO NO I WON’T GO!

    You can see this was not going well. Then I realized something. Part of why The Munch was resisting so much was because she thought I was going to be gentle, and not hurt her. Yet the problem was that there is no way to dig a splinter out of a foot and not have it hurt! The only way to get this demon wood out was to pick, prod, squeeze, and shear the skin.

    Me: Listen. This is going to hurt. There is no way I can do this and it won’t be painful. But if you don’t want to go to the doctor, you have to let me hurt you.
    Munch: Fine, but you have to be gentle.
    Me: I’m will do my best to be gentle, but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to hurt. It is. I am going to hurt you. You have to wrap your head around that. But that’s the only way I can get it out. Life is full of pain okay Munch? There is no running from it. But you’re the bravest girl I know. You had someone cut your eyeball out of your face… twice. You’ve lived through surgery; you can live through this okay?
    Munch: Okay. Just don’t take me back to the hospital. I hate that place.
    Me: Deal.

    For the next hour of our lives, with her dad holding a flashlight to The Munch’s foot, I dug into her skin. Sure The Munch would have to take breaks, but there was no more resisting, no more kicking, no more shouting. She just let me carve my way into her foot and then squeeze the shit out of it to try and loosen the splinter. Then, I finally saw my moment. I got the tweezers, and pulled it out. We all started screaming and jumping up and down in celebration. I swear on everything holy pulling that splinter out was as emotionally satisfying as watching the birth of my child. In fact, it was more gratifying.

    Obviously the Munch had a shift of consciousness. Once she not only expected the pain, but also accepted it, her tolerance quadrupled. She was able to sit there peacefully and deal with the discomfort because she had surrendered to that reality. Once you allow the pain, you realize, that it’s not that bad. You will survive, and the satisfaction of getting through it is profound. I think we all can remind ourselves that pain is not the worst thing that can happen to us. Stagnation is. Allowing ourselves to be stifled by the fear of suffering. So go out there, make mistakes, get hurt, have someone destroy your heart. You’re going to be okay! I promise. Live life embracing pain. I know I for one am going to remember this the next time I get pee in my eye from a presidential golden shower, because that shit does sting.

    The tools and splinter

    splinter-blog

  • It’s my Birthday TODAY!!! My Gift to You Is Life Advice!!

    Today is the day to commemorate that fateful morning when my mom deposited me onto this planet. What a coincidence that you happen to live here too right? Weird.

    Birthdays are a time of self-reflection. A moment for you to look at who you are, who’ve you been, and who you’re becoming. Yet it seems I am not alone. I bet most of you are doing this same ritual because of New Years. Because of the timing of this holy day of my birth, I get to participate in the collective experience of most of the Western World looking back at their year and wondering, “What the fuck just happened.”

    So my gift to you on this magical, extraordinary day – a day that I hope my Facebook friends think of me for that 4 seconds it takes to write HBD on my wall – I give to you some thoughts to ruminate on as the New Year rolls in.

    1) Commit to a life of brutal and radical honesty… with yourself: It’s heavy dissecting yourself and your place in the world – especially if you are honest with yourself. I’m sure if you truly picked apart every part of yourself you would be left with quite a few bloody scabs. Our motivations are not always pure, and often times we are driven my selfish wants. Nobody is perfect, and it’s we have to accept that life is on going process. There are plenty of parts of myself that I know are problematic. I for sure have flexible morals, and malleable values. I may lie to people to avoid their reactions or dissapointments, but I refuse to lie to myself about myself. What I’ve come to notice is the more I can be entirely truthful about who I am to me, the more I can achieve that with other people.

    2) Behavior is different than personality: Close intimate relationships are the root of the human experience, but they are also incredibly hard because people are so deeply flawed. When someone you love is pissing you off, rather then attacking them as a person, realize that their behavior is what you are actually angry at. It’s much easier to figure out how to change and grow with people if you focus on behavior patterns, rather than pointing fingers and making accusations that end up tearing down another person’s self-esteem. When you think about behavior, this is an adaptable part of ourselves – everyone can change their behavior with practice. It’s much easier to actually get through to others when you focus on how they act rather than who they fundamentally are.

    3) Sometimes it’s your civic duty to start a revolution amongst coke whores: I have a sweet memory of being in NYC getting super drunk, then ending up at an after-party and finding myself on a bathroom floor with a Lithuanian model offering to jam her fingers down my throat to help me puke. Apparently I wasn’t doing it right, and she could tell by my lame strategy of only using one finger rather than 2. What an amateur right? As this model was holding my head, about to deep throat me with her hand, I thought to myself, “although she is delightful, I don’t think I need to put myself through this life experience.” I looked into her spectacular eyes and I told her I didn’t’ have to puke – so she suggested we do cocaine to sober me up. What a gem! We returned to the party, and the host brought a small pack of 6 ft. amazons back into a bedroom with a plate of drugs. He then started barking orders at the girls about who would be doing cocaine off of who’s body parts. “You do it off her stomach, and you do it off her tits and you…” He points to me – and even in my drunken state of seeing double – I said, “No way dude, I’m not doing that.” I am a feminist!!! I staggered out of the room to sit on the couch see if my eyes would stop vibrating. Later, the dude handed me the plate of drugs to do like a normal person. All the models stared in disbelief. It was as if they didn’t know they could do that! An insurgency was sparked that night. A rebellion where gorgeous girls realized they could ask for drugs without having to be a sexual spectacle. This was met activism! Let’s not give Gloria Steinem all the credit. This was my feminist revolution! My point is that we should always question authority, make our own rules, and do your best to inspire painfully beautiful Lithuanian girls when you have the chance.

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    December 29, 2016 • Change, Emotions, Musings, Problems • Views: 1443