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  • The All Feeling Tyranny of the Wounded Inner Child

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • 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!!

  • Fuck your Hippy Bullshit

    Last week The Munch had a fever of 104 for days. So I did what any caring parent would do. Let her watch TV for 15 hours a day as I continued living my life. She wasn’t complaining about melting her brain with Barbie shows, so why should I?

    After about 5 straight days of The Munch infiltrating her mind with Netflix shows, and whatever else she found on Youtube – including accidently stumbling onto some KKK rallies while looking for Katy Perry – I knew I had to intervene. When I am sick, I see it as a sign from the universe that I have to re-examine my life. It’s a time of self-reflection where I stare into the mirror and ask myself the tough questions like, “is that mole growing?” I figured that maybe The Munch wasn’t getting any better because she was distracting herself with media rather than diving into the waves of her consciousness.

    Toni: Okay Munch, today is a day with no screens.
    Munch: Why? I don’t feel good.
    Toni: We have to get you better that’s why. You have hardly eaten in days. You’re getting so skinny! Granted your runway ready, but…
    Munch: I don’t want to do anything but lay here and watch things! I don’t FEEL LIKE PLAYING!
    Toni: I know. But maybe part of why you don’t feel good is because you’re spending all your time watching things and not facing the part of yourself that doesn’t make you feel good.

    She looked at me with annoyed eyes.

    Munch: Then you’re hanging out with me all day.
    Toni: That’s exactly my plan.
    Munch: Well what do you want to do? I’m bored.
    Toni: I think we should spend some time doing a meditation to try and uncover what is it about your life that’s not working. Or what emotional issue you have to address.
    Munch: NOOOOOO!!! I DON’T WANT TO DO THAT!
    Toni: Munch there has to be a lesson buried in this? Is it me? Am I the problem? Is it something about a past life?
    Munch: I JUST DON’T FEEL GOOD AND I DON’T WANT TO DO ANYTHING!
    Toni: Munch, your mind has great power! Do you want me to tell you some stories about when I was sick and I used my mind to help me heal?
    Munch: Fine.
    Toni: Okay so remember how the doctor had told me I would never have babies?
    Munch: AHHHHHH! I don’t want to hear this story! I JUST WANT TO FEEL BETTER!
    Toni: Yes! I want you to feel better too! So let’s do a guided meditation to help your mind make your body better!
    Munch: NO!!!!!

    The Munch glared at me with an expression that read, fuck your hippy bullshit.

    Toni: Okay. Maybe we try that later. But I think watching TV for a week straight has potentially obliterated your personality.
    Munch: I don’t care.
    Toni: How about we read a book?

    I picked Charlotte’s Web, forgetting that the goddamn eclipse had pulled out of me a menstruation from another dimension from planet Gaia. The PMS I was experiencing was not only cosmic, but also torn from the fabric of the menses multiverse. My uterine lining was shedding into the space-time continuum, rocketing my emotions through the dark matter that envelops us.

    Toni: “I’m less than two months old and I’m tired of living,” said Wilbur.
    Munch: Mama are you crying?
    Toni: I can’t help it Munch. This book is so sad.
    Munch: Well stop reading it if it’s gonna make you cry.
    Toni: No. It’s a classic. Let’s continue.

    But I couldn’t stop weeping.

    Toni: “When I’m out here, there’s no place to go but in. When I’m indoors there’s no place to go but out in the yard.”
    Munch: Mamma you’re still crying!
    Toni: God it’s so tragic! The futility of existence!

    We made it half way through the book when The Munch decided I needed a break. I made her go outside, and she hid under a blanket. We cuddled, we talked, and we sat, staring at nothing. This is hard for a work-a-holic manic personality like me, but I knew it was what Munch needed. To just spend a quite day with nothing but my attention so that at the end of it… I break down her inhibitions and annoyance and force her to do a guided meditation with me.

    Toni: Okay close your eyes and we’ll get your mind all strong and ready to help your body.
    Munch: Fine. I’m ready.

    And wouldn’t you know it… SHE WAS FUCKING BETTER THE NEXT DAY!

    Not interested in my bullshit

    Getting “fresh air” from under the blanket

  • The Universe Hates Me

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

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

    SO DO I!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    THEN…

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

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

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

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

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

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

    This time I fucking screamed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Munch: Mama there is something disgusting in my playroom.

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

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

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

  • Ruining Childhood With The Truth

    Childhood is a blissful time of naïve innocence. That is unless you are living in abject poverty, or a war torn country, or a town where racism is the social norm, or a place where they sell girls off as child brides – so basically for everyone except those billion kids.

    But for my Aryan looking privileged child, things could be pretty idealistic for her – that is of course if she didn’t have me as a mom.

    See how there’s balance in this cold dark universe after all?

    I try to keep it real with The Munch because I think she’s emotionally capable of understanding complex ideas, and also because I have no interest in raising an entitled asshole. Yet I can see how my parenting can infringe on The Munch’s potential to believe the world is a benign, benevolent place. “Yes Munch, bumble bees are fuzzy, and they’re being systematically destroyed by Monsanto’s pesticides, threatening a global pandemic of potential mass extinction.” Trust me. She get’s it. “That is a police siren sweetie, and yes they are here to protect us.. but we also can’t forget that the legal system is inherently corrupt, the prison industrial complex exploits millions of Americans as slave labor for private companies, and inherent bias has resulted in the murders of thousands of innocent black men.

    Although I want The Munch to maintain her youthful idealism, I also think it’s important she knows that Santa Clause is a physical manifestation of excessive materialism. It’s a delicate balance right?

    The Munch is a sensitive creature, and some of the information I tell her does impact her ability to enjoy things. For example, when in our small town they explode the fake missiles that mock the horror of the other countries we routinely bomb… wait, I’m sorry. That was my auto correct. I mean fireworks. When they light the fireworks, they set up a raft on the lake to light them from. Yet as a result, all the trash from the fireworks ends up falling into the lake, polluting it. I just happened to mention that to Munch, and then the whole time she was watching the fireworks, on her birthday mind you, every time she saw the debris dwindling into the lake, she would cover her eyes in dismay. “I can’t watch Mama. It’s so terrible for the environment. Those poor fishies. All that trash and chemicals poisoning them.”

    You may be asking yourself, “Are you a monster Toni? Ruining fireworks for your 7-year old… on her birthday?” Well… it’s not my fault. My mom raised me! This is a woman who gave me an NWA tape when I was 7-years old so I could “learn about politics.” The same woman that insisted we listen to the assassination of the Romanian dictator Ceausescu on Christmas… AS A FAMILY… WHEN I WAS 9 YEARS OLD!

    I’m not the only one doing this to her! When my mom plays dolls with The Munch they have a character who’s a Syrian refugee named Toni who lost her eye in the war, and now wears an eye patch. Another doll, Violet, is confined to a wheel chair because she stepped on a landmine… and she’s also an orphan that must be taken care of by the other children who’s parent’s died as casualties of war. I can hear my mom “playing” with The Munch and going through the narrative about their ships being turned around by the evil right wing, leaving these dolls to drown in the ocean.

    So yeah… maybe the Munch isn’t exactly having a “normal” childhood, but at least she’s being informed of geo-politics!

    The refugee baby dolls Toni and Violet (PS that top picture is perhaps my favorite picture of all time of The Munch when she was 2… learning about police brutality)

  • Mushrooms On A Mountain

    It’s been a long time since I’ve done mushrooms. Partly because no one has been offering them to me, and partly because I’m a goddamn grown up… if you forget the fact that I’m currently growing out my armpit hairs with the sole goal to dye them blue. I could claim my motivation is a video I want to shoot, but I also think it’s crucial to my personal development that look like I’ve permanently got Gonzo in a headlock.

    It was my friend’s 40th birthday and she had a vision to hike the mountain on mushrooms. Now who am I to deny anyone of their dreams? That would be like someone telling me, “You know Toni, I don’t really have to taste my own feet for your sketch comedy skit do I?” Yeah, you goddamn right you do!

    That isn’t to say I wasn’t nervous. I was!! I didn’t know what mushies even felt like anymore. Plus I’ve been watching NOTHING but Twin Peaks for the past month so my brain is ligit scarred. I can’t see a log anymore and not think it’s talking to me about owls.

    But I was in great company, and that made me feel safe. Plus there was also plenty of weed, weed tincture, edible weed, and weed lube in case it became that kind of party.

    At the base of the mountain we each ate one, and then starting hiking.

    Now in the past if I were to eat mushies I’d probably mow down about ten of them and see what happened. But those were the days where I had fewer responsibilities, and could do stuff like that. It’s not like today where I have the very important task of making a realistic looking Donald Trump Sex doll hanging over my head.

    Yet I think if adulthood has taught me anything, its moderation. When I was young I would do drugs until I felt that feeling of, “whoops, I’ve done too much.” But now I know to pace myself, take it slow, and see how it plays out before taking any more. AREN’T YOU SO PROUD OF ME MOM?

    I have to say, this was an epic experience. When we got to the top of the mountain to our surprise no one else was there! It was such a gift to be the only humans at the top. You know how random people have a way of tainting a quasi-spiritual drug induced experience. Mostly because they can’t understand why you’re telling jokes to a pinecone.

    The wind was unbelievable at the summit. I was overwhelmed by the power of this invisible force; a breeze that I couldn’t touch, or hold, but that still cradled me with its intensity. The element of wind seems so ethereal because you can only see its consequences on the world, but not the wind itself. We stood at the highest peak with our arms outstretched, and leaned into it so much that we were at a 60-degree angle from the ground. It was so loud it was as if we were in a giant subwoofer, the base of the mountain penetrating our ears.

    I stood there for almost a half an hour, until my ears may or may not have started to bleed. I can’t be sure because that also could have been a Fairy’s menstrual flow she accidently left behind when whispering to me. Sometimes Fairy’s tampon leak too you know! We then watched the sunset as a cloud enveloped us. We were straight up inside of a goddamn cloud Carebears style!

    At that moment I felt sooo much love and appreciation for my friends. This overwhelming gratitude for their existence took over my mood. Yet at the same time, I also felt this intense sense of melancholy. The pain that comes with love, and the inevitable suffering that goes hand in hand with loving hurled this shadow I couldn’t escape. As much as my heart opened to the exaltation of love, it still couldn’t hide from the tragedy. So I did what any normal person would do. I hugged a rock until the darkness came.

    We then hiked down in haze. At one point we sat on the forest floor and turned off our headlamps to experience the blackness of the woods. It was so dark you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face, but you could see the giant’s hand over the moon of course. Because we had had our headlamps on, we hadn’t seen the fireflies that had been following us. Yet once we shut off our manmade halogens, we could see the hundreds of glowing bugs serenading us under the eerie canopy of the trees.

    The whole experience was like a vacation from myself. It was a holiday from the thought patterns of my mind. Rather than thinking about the usual things – the details of life and anxieties about the past/future – I instead meditated on the nature of reality. How reality is like an infinite layered cake, with infinite possibilities all stacked on top of each other. We shape our reality based on the decisions we make at any one moment. Our decisions shape the realties of others, and we are all tied together in this netting of the decisions we decide to act on. If you’re sitting in a field, one potential decision is to smell a flower, another is to dig everything up and build a Wal-Mart. We are the architects of reality because of the decisions we make, so we should really take more time to think before we act.

    Of course I can’t rely on magic mushrooms to bring magic into my life, but that doesn’t mean that making space for magic isn’t crucial. Maybe I don’t always have the luxury to carve out the time and space to allow my consciousness to wander into the wacky world of psychotropic substances, but that doesn’t mean the substance of my thoughts have to be so mundane. I don’t need drugs to open my mind, but I do need to make sure I don’t get shut in by the needless worries my mind creates. Mushies are just are a gentle reminder that reality is more complex then it seems when I’m purely focused on the minutia of everyday life. If I spent my days doing mushrooms on mountains I would look at my phone way less, but I also could just look at my phone less. The point of mind-expanding materials is not to do more materials, but instead use them as a guide to remember to make sure I expand my mind in the material world.

    June 22, 2017 • Adventures, emotions, Musings • Views: 600

  • Oh, That’s Just My Open Wound

    On the average day, I feel a LOT of feelings. I usually wake up with a deep dread, wishing I were still asleep because in that reality I don’t feel like a failure – oh and there was also that velvet couch I was eating covered in frosting. I then do a meditation and perhaps feel a moment of calm inspiration only to be punctuated by stress the second I open my eyes. I drive The Munch to school looking at her sweet face in the review mirror and feel like, “aww look at all that hope in her eyes that has yet to be crushed by the knowledge that Trump has raped her of a future.” This then transmutes into the drive back home where I start to wish the day were already over, only to sit at my computer with a mixture of creative energy and crippling self doubt… and its not even 9:30 am.

    By the time I’ve gone to bed at midnight I’ve gone through maybe 14 cycles of “life is okay,” and then “holy shit what is all this for besides facing the eternal misery of my futility playing the stings of my heart with the violin of delusions I call an existence.”

    Everyone goes through this right? (Insert nervous laughter)

    Yet if you were hanging out with me I don’t think you would say, “That Toni is one moody mother fucker,” because I keep most my emotional ebbs and flow buried deep inside, much like a dog with their bone. But instead of the fleshless carcass of an animal to chew on, I instead gnaw on the skeletons in my closet that I’ve come so accustomed to dressing up.

    That’s normal right? (Insert anxious hand wringing)

    The reason I try not to let myself get too carried away in my emotional self is because I know that feelings are ethereal wisps of wind that blow in and out of your consciousness like dandelion seeds. You can feel one way for one moment, and then the complete opposite the next. Although feelings are important and crucial aspects of the human experience, they are also somewhat absurd because of how unpredictable and illogical they are. As such, my internal world is much different then how I project myself to others. In the outside world, I come off as very unemotional. I don’t cry very often, I’m not quick to anger, I’m patient, I don’t overreact, and many think I’m easy to talk to. I keep a safe distance from my feelings because I don’t want to take them out on others. Of course all my close friends know my shadow side – I’m manic, compulsive, bossy, particular, controlling, excessive, and overwhelming… but because I mostly keep myself in check their overall impression is that, “Toni’s chill, and a good friend.”

    There is this dichotomy between how I feel and how I act because I ultimately want to be an emotionally mature human. It’s not that often that my feelings overtake my behavior, so when it happens, no one really knows what to do with me. I’m not really used to relying on others emotionally, so when the darkness comes, the black depths of my being is confusing to others. I’m not approachable when I’m upset, and therefor not that easy to comfort. Mostly I just want to be left alone to drown in my melancholy.

    I know we all have primal sores of our childhood, and there are plenty I have as well. Yet I feel like I’ve come to terms with most of them. Sure there are moments when I can access the sadness of my socialization, but I don’t feel ruled by it. I’ve tried to face my conditioning, forgive what hurt me, have empathy for the adults that disappointed me, and let go. I’m SURE there are aspects that still influence me greatly, but I don’t feel controlled by my past pains.

    Except for my open wound.

    When my best friend Bitty died, a piece of me died with her. Last Sunday, June 11th, was the 17th year anniversary of her death.

    17 years is a long time to have passed. They say time heals all wounds, but in truth time just means you get used to the pain. It doesn’t go away, but rather becomes a part of you. Like roots of a vine growing around your soul, the pain of loss entwines your spirit and tangles into your psyche.

    The tragedy of Bitty’s death affected everyone who loved her. It bonded us in a web of mourning. An entanglement that can’t be escaped because holding onto the pain is also holding onto her. I can think of Bitty and remember the happiness of our relationship and feel a certain sense of peace for her spirit, yet that doesn’t take away the core loss. There is a bottomless yearning that I feel because I can no longer look into her eyes, see her smile, or watch the way her lip curled when she was angry. I’m still her friend and our love is just as real as ever, but I miss her physical presence in my life and nothing can change that.

    I miss her.

    I miss her so much.

    The day of Bitty’s funeral, I couldn’t leave the graveyard. Everyone slowly made their way to the lunch, but I stayed. I stared at where her body was buried, still in total disbelief that this was really happening. I felt so helpless that I couldn’t turn back time and have stopped this from happening.

    I wept at her grave that day as the tears that over took me. The anguish was consuming. Possessed by regret that I had spent any time away from her. If I had only known all I had was 20 years with her, I never would have left her side. I would have sewn myself to her so as not miss even one moment. I would have given anything to see her again.

    There was this senselessness to her death that I couldn’t wrap my head around. Why? Why did this have to happen? The mystery of misfortune was plaguing me. There are so many disastrous things that happen every day, and those that live through them are just left with the question of why. Our brains want to solve puzzles, yet death is one that we can never decipher. Yet all I wanted was something to ground this horrible event.

    I made a promise to Bitty that day. I swore to her that I would live for the both of us, and that I would make my life meaningful to some how make her death make sense. I opened up myself to her, and invited her into my body. I didn’t want to lose her. I wanted her with me, and I needed her to know that I was still there for her, even if I couldn’t stop her from dying. I blasted open my being so she could find a home in me. I knew her soul had traveled on, but there was still the human energy of her, I could feel it. I embraced it.

    I’ve tried to maintain inspiration from Bitty’s death because that’s the only way I know how to honor her life. Because of Bitty, I believe in magic. She is the guiding energy of my life. Every moment of coincidence, synchronicity, positivity, I see as Bitty. I feel her talking to me, looking out for me, guiding me. I attribute all the beauty in my life to her, because she changed me. Growing up I was never artistic. Bitty was the artist. Everything she did was creative. She drew, she made clothes, she made jewelry – her room was an explosion of her unique aesthetic. Yet since Bitty’s death, the artist in me was born. I don’t see that as random, and I am so deeply appreciative of that.

    Bitty’s death destroyed me, but it also awoken me. It connected me to the spirit world, and everything mystical. Without Bitty’s death I wouldn’t be who I am to today, and I’m so grateful to her. She’s been such a good friend even if she’s no longer on this earth to share time with me.

    But I miss her.

    I’m starting to forget our memories. I don’t have her to go through them with me anymore. As I grow older, my brain gets filled with new memories, making the ones with her harder to hold onto. I would trade any memory I have had of the past 17 years without her for one more moment of our time together. My memories of her are everything because they’re all I have.

    This is my open wound. One that is not always so raw, but when it is, it’s like my skin has been peeled off and all that is left of me is vulnerable organs unable to defend themselves against the elements. There are times when I can talk about Bitty and I feel almost nothing, because I can’t let myself. Yet there are moments when just the thought of her makes my soul scream so loud it’s deafening. My head filled with echoes of my heart crying in despair.

    This Sunday was a hard one for me, and I couldn’t escape it.

    But it’s okay. It’s okay that I go through this, and I always go back to the one and only therapy session that I’ve had in life. It was about 2 years after Bitty died, and I was still crying daily. Waking up thinking about her, going to bed thinking about her. People were worried. I was consumed with grief. The therapist asked me one question, and it was all I needed to hear.

    “How do you think Bitty would feel about the way you’re reacting to her death.”

    I thought about it, and I know everyone was telling me, “she wouldn’t want me to suffer,” but they didn’t know Bitty.

    She would be happy I was this upset!! She was my best friend! If I just moved on easily or wasn’t tormented Bitty would be like, “What the fuck Toni!!!”

    That realization gave me permission to feel, and I keep that with me. The universal spirit of Bitty that is all one with the cosmos of course wants the best for me, but the human Bitty that I knew also thinks it’s totally reasonable I’m this broken up about her death. I loved her. Of course I care this much. That’s just what happens when you lose someone you love. You never let go, you never get over it, and you always miss them.

    June 14, 2017 • emotions, Musings, Old School Stories, Relationships • Views: 1038

  • 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: 906

  • 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.