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  • Maybe We Should Get to Know Each other BEFORE Getting Naked?

    Toni: I totally forgot about that attempted rape!!!!

    That was an actual sentence that came out of my mouth last weekend. I wasn’t trying to be flippant – it was just an authentic reaction to a memory I hadn’t thought about since it happened. Not because I was repressing trauma (I don’t think) but more because it was just one of so many times where a man tried to sexually violate me that I swept it under the Persian rug of my consciousness. I got away, and nothing happened, so why file it in the memory banks? That’s how many #metoo moments a lady can have. So many, you forget about the ones you escape.

    Sadly, not every time I was in a creepy situation with a guy did I feel tough enough to scream in his face, “I’m going to cut off your dick and eat it” – too many times I felt the opposite. I have plenty of memories where I felt unsure and unsafe. I acquiesced. I resigned. I did things I didn’t want to do because I didn’t have it in me to yell about chomping off penises. This is the problem with the gray area around sexual assault. The story that Aziz Ansari is currently the unwilling ambassador of. The encounters that leave a woman feeling sexually violated even though she wasn’t held down with a gun to her head, and the man is left confused, not believing he did anything wrong. I think in Western American culture we have come to a common understanding of what violent rape is, but we have no idea about the massive spectrum of harm against women that is now dominating the conversation.

    WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT THE GRAY AREA!!

    Not just us ladies. If men want to stop getting accused of being rapey they’ve got to be open to understanding why shit feels rapey. Probably a lot of men are thinking right now, “Shut the fuck up… just shut the fuck up about all this. Your feelings make me uncomfortable so stop sharing them. Shut the fuck up and take it.” Well, we have. We’ve shut the fuck up for thousands of years and now we’re done being quiet.

    Women are trying to talk about it, and that is actually the MOST important part of this movement. Sure it sucks for these public figures that are now becoming the reluctant figureheads of these dialogues. It may not feel fair to some that Aziz is experiencing a massive public shaming for behaving in a way that millions of men do daily. But you know what else isn’t fair? The millions of women getting raped at this moment across the world. Life isn’t fair. It hasn’t been fair for women since the dawn of the patriarchy, and it hasn’t been fair for most men either. Some men that aren’t technically “bad” men are going to go down, and yeah, it’s a real bummer for them – but it’s also the ONLY way men will listen. I think many of us feel conflicted because who wants a seemingly benign dude like Aziz to be the poster boy for sexual assault? Especially when what he did feels so relatable to so many? Trust me, I’d rather have a white piece of shit like Weinstein continue to be the face of the #metoo stories because I hate the racial undertones. Yet Weinstein was such a monster that most men were like “Shit, I’m not like that mother fucker so I must be okay.” The reality is that these more common stories have to be the ones we’re paying equal attention to even if they lack the obvious violence of the Weinstein style rapes. The more men identify with Aziz and his story the more men will develop a greater curiosity to understand what all these “lady feelings” are about when it comes to sexual assault. The more men that burn in fire of this flaming desire women have to be heard, the more men will wake up and listen.

    This is not a bad thing. This is actually really important for men, women, intimacy and culture. I think we’re actually evolving, or at least the process is in front of us. Yet the question shouldn’t be “why don’t these women just leave if they feel uncomfortable,” but rather “why aren’t men curious about the woman’s sexual and emotional experience?”

    Of course there are instances when husbands rape their wives. There are countless stories of someone you know raping you. This happens too. Knowing each other will not stop all rape, but it will have an impact on these millions of confused moments between strangers. In modern western “hook up culture” having sex with a stranger has become normalized. Yet there are MANY problems with this expectation that you should get naked with someone you barely know. One major issue is that you have NO idea their sexual history or experience with trauma. When you don’t know a person, you have no way of knowing if they are fucking you because they want to, or because they have become psychically paralyzed and are trying to get away from you but don’t know how. Our personal histories contribute to our sexuality and how we react to situations that feel violating. Not every person that feels scared is going to speak out and let you know. Sometimes they are too petrified to say how terrified they really are. If you don’t know them, how would you have the emotional intelligence to pick up on their energy? As a man, isn’t that something you want to know?? Don’t most men want the woman they are with to genuinely want them? So if men like Aziz Ansari don’t want women to blog about them publically and tell their #metoo stories when they think they were just having a good time, they might actually have to get to know women before fucking them.

    Is this a bad thing? I don’t think so. Women are actually pretty interesting. We are worth getting to know. Yet we live in a culture that treats people as if they are disposable. Both men and women have become so accustomed to fucking strangers that the expectation to connect to a person intimately is no longer a pre-requisite of sex. We have stripped all the humanity from sex when we continue to refuse to actually know each other, know each other’s pain, and have curiosity for who we actually are. I’m not suggesting we expect each other to live out a Jane Austen novel, but rather, I don’t know… start developing a more patient and curious dynamic with the people we plan to share our bodies with? We’re more willing to expose our genitals to someone than we are our hearts.

    Sure the occasional one-night-stand can be fun – but that still needs to be a respectful encounter where BOTH parties are pretty clear of their intentions. This means that rather than using another person’s body to masturbate with, we actually have to have a real conversation making sure the exchange is mutual. Call me old fashioned but my best sexual experiences are when the guy I am with is interested in my experience with him. He is caring and aware of not only my pleasure, but also checking in if what he’s doing is okay. What makes the scene hot is his genuine interest in me as a human, even if I never see him again. And guys, wouldn’t you rather air on the side of caution??? Let me tell you something, when I want a guy, I fucking make that shit known. If I’m going to have a one-night stand, I’m goddamn ready to do that. I promise you – the type of woman that’s down to fuck for the night is the type of woman that will go after you. There is no need to push yourself on someone feeling timid because that’s a sure fire sign that she’s NOT INTO IT!

    We don’t need a movie “he’s not that into you,” we need the movie “she’s not that into your dick so don’t force it on her okay sweetie?”

    There are too many instances where men are caught off guard by how they make a woman feel during their sexual encounter. The apology of Aziz is maybe the most disturbing part of the story – how these two people were on SUCH drastically different pages regarding the same event. Him thinking she wants it, her feeling assaulted. Him believing that because he texted her a few times and took her out to dinner that he was being a gentleman, her feeling used and abused. The most crucial part of this narrative is how almost every woman and man in this country can relate to it. We’ve all been there, so now we all can talk about it.

    Texting someone a few times is not getting know someone. We pretend it is because so much of our communication is now through that medium, but a text convo is not going to build trust in an authentic way. Having a “text” relationship before a date is NOT building the intimacy necessary to be respectful during sex. For her to be able to say “I am uncomfortable” and for him to actually hear that. I know Aziz doesn’t want to think of himself as rapey, but he also wasn’t interested in this woman’s pleasure. He wasn’t interested in her mind. He wasn’t shoving his fingers down her throat while asking her what her favorite book was, or if she was close with her father. When women are objects of sex for men, there is no reason for men to try and understand who women are. I’m sorry to say this guys, but women are kind of sick of being sex dolls.

    We fear intimacy because we fear love because we fear getting hurt because we fear ourselves because we fear intimacy because we fear love because we fear getting hurt. YOU GET IT? We are driven by fear. Men treat women like androids not because they are brave, but because they are scared. They are afraid of women because women can hurt their hearts. So why not think of a woman as purely a pussy because that’s easier than being vulnerable to the potential pain she may cause? It’s a pre-emptive strike. If I treat you like you mean nothing to me, then you can’t make me feel like nothing.

    Everything about modern culture is actually tearing us away from each other. Most porn is a psychological barrier objectifying women and sex. Social media is a physical barrier fooling us that an online community is as valuable as real life interaction. The patriarchy is the ruling system dividing the genders and creating power dynamics that affect every facet of how we interact. We can’t talk about rape culture and #metoo moments without deconstructing the societal infrastructure that supports this complete lack of genuine connection. The complicated reality is that for men to know women, they also have to know themselves. There is no more avoiding the self. The day of reckoning has come. We are all victims of culture, yet we all have to take responsibility for our actions.

    So I know guys – it’s hard. But think of it this way. If every man had to suffer the social consequences of being sexually inappropriate with women then holy shit we’d have to restructure the entire planet because there is a lot of them. All those high powered 1%-ers, those lizard people politicians and executives would no longer be in power. Men in all industries would fall. It would be kind of amazing. Maybe this is what all people have been waiting for? Our current society is fucked as fuck, on the brink of nuclear war, and in the midst of environmental mayhem. I am willing to bet my left tit that 99% of the top 1% of men that are currently destroying all hope for humanity have sexually assaulted women. So if this #metoo movement means these dudes lose power and a new infrastructure must be formed in it’s wake then actually… everyone wins!

  • Why Do I Let People Draw On Me?

    Hi! I had my birthday last week! Did you remember? Did you send me a loving Facebook message that read HBD? Did I get a text from you with ample emoji? Or were you too wrapped up thinking about yourself and not celebrating that glorious day when my mother ever so delicately pressed me out from her puss?

    My birthday is December 29, which is not the best date for a birthday if you’re hoping for a lot of undivided attention. There is just a lot going on with family, Christmas, New Years, and the whole world coming to an end thing. People are busy.

    This year I had very little vision about how to best commemorate me. I usually prefer to hike a mountain so I can proudly stand at the top and yell, “Hey world, Ummmm what’s up? I kinda hope this year is better than last year or whatever? Thanks!” It’s a moment where I show a lot of personal strength and conviction.

    Sadly for me, New England is currently experiencing the effects of climate change. I now live in the depths of the Tundra where we endure days on end of negative temperatures, warming ourselves in vats of animal fat cuddled next to a burning fire made from random, flammable, household objects in the living room. Wait a minute…. Maybe Trump is right after all? It’s colder than ever, so “global warming” is OBVIOULY a myth! PHEW!! Pass me the fossil fuels to mainline! Mama’s getting high tonight!

    Because of this pesky weather we’re having where my friend got frost-bite sledding down a hill too fast, I decided that maybe I should get a tattoo on my birthday instead of braving the potential of gangrene. This tattoo idea was extra seductive because much like I have a family healer, tarot reader, and acupuncturist – I also have a family tattoo artist that will ink me up in my kitchen. Truly, the only way to get a tattoo is in your own home where you can relax, put your feet up, and smoke weed. Whoops I’m sorry. I meant, eat weed. Then smoke some later. Tattoos hurt.

    This whole event got me thinking about why I get tattoos in the first place. Not everybody wants drawings drawn on their body. My mom tries to make me promise with each one that it will be my last, but her and I both know that’s ridiculous – especially when my next tattoo is going to be her face on my chest. ARE YOU HAPPY NOW MOM?!!!!

    For me tattoos aren’t just about the image I’m printing on my skin, but more the emotional imprint made while marking that period in my life. Each tattoo is a stamp of a memory, a version of the Toni I was when I got it. When I stare at the pictures that have been pierced into me over the years, I am then transported back to that time. Who I was in that moment, what was going on with me, what I cared about, what I was working towards – the actual sensation of being Toni back then compared to the Toni I am now. These designs are a portal to my past. They provide significant access to those memories because I can tap into the feelings I felt as another human etched into my membranes with a needle. The right of passage the pain provided is a unique opportunity to time travel through my skin’s excursions.

    So let’s go on the voyage of my personality through the stories of my tattoos!

    1) Age 13: Toni’s best friend Bitty came over with a needle, thread, and some “Indian Ink.” Is that okay to say? It was just the brand of the ink at the time… I know it should’ve actually been called, “Native Americans who we mercilessly murdered through genocide” Ink. Bitty had given herself a tattoo of a sun, so Toni decided to get the moon to complement her friend’s. They went into the bathroom of Toni’s house and Bitty free-hand poked a crooked crescent moon into Toni’s ankle. This 13-year old Toni had not yet tried pot, and did not like boys. She ate a lot of steak and cheese subs after school, had yet to get her period, but was known to drink a glass of wine in the bubble bath with her friend’s from time to time. She wore Adidas sneakers and GAP jeans. This Toni’s greatest fear was that somehow her head would get detached from her body in a freak accident, and then she would only be a severed head people would be forced to carry around. Her favorite movie was “The Little Mermaid.”
    2) Age 16: This Toni was living in Washington DC. She was going to summer school to please her parents and hopefully get her into a better collage. Toni was also working as a hostess at her grandfather’s restaurant, and ate a brownie sundae everyday after work. 16-year old Toni just got her heart broken, and was VERY depressed and HYPER emotional about it. She had two other boyfriends at school mind you – her official boyfriend and her secret boyfriend – but this 3rd boyfriend that didn’t go to Toni’s school was the one she was most in love with – mainly because he had a grey tooth that intrigued her. This boy broke up with Toni because he “didn’t see her enough” since he was in boarding school, and he also “wanted to hook up with other girls and not feel bad.” Retrospectively this makes sense, but also confused Toni because he could have been a cheating liar like 16-year old Toni, which for whatever reason, made more sense to Toni. Toni had never been dumped before and felt out of control. Toni cried a lot, but there was also this hot kid named Brad she would stare at during some class. Brad had invited Toni to go with him and some friends to get a tattoo in some guys’ kitchen that gave underage kids tattoos. He was sweet. That tattoo man, not Brad. Brad was a dick, which was why Toni liked him. When Toni was in the kitchen, she had no idea what to get so she called her dad. Toni’s dad was working on his computer, distracted, and told Toni to get Tinkerbelle. Toni complied, but when she came home to show her best friend Bitty her accomplishment, Bitty then informed Toni that Tinkerbelle’s dress was green not blue. Toni contorted her spine to look at the blue dress that was now permanently on her lower back and said, “Shit. I think you’re right.”
    3) Age 18: Toni had just graduated high school and was moving in with that 3rd boyfriend that broke her heart! HA! GOTCHA PUNK! They got an apartment in Newport, Rhode Island and decided to get tattoos together. It’s humiliating to admit, but Toni and her boyfriend chose tribal band themes. (Note to reader: Please have compassion for this deep embarrassment. You must remember this was 1998 and when you’d get a tattoo back then, you’d have to either pick something from the wall, or peruse through a binder filled with images of Yosemeti Sam holding a hockey stick. There weren’t a lot of options for creativity). This Toni was excited for her future, independence, and trying to procure a fake ID. She had run a marathon, was an experienced weed smoker, had tried acid MORE THAN ONCE, and already outgrown rave culture. She was very mature and her favorite film was “Dumb and Dumber.”
    4) Age 18: Toni was moving to Seattle to commit a year of her life to social service. She was going to do a program called City Year, and was ready to have meaning in her life through giving back to society. Toni felt an immense sadness for the state of the world and deeply craved personal purpose, yet she also wanted to do whatever her boyfriend wanted to do. This Toni decided to get a tattoo of a toe ring with her friend because she liked toe rings, but thought they were uncomfortable inside her sneakers.
    5) Age 20: Toni was mourning the death of her best friend Bitty. She had died in car accident after Toni’s first year of college, and Toni was needless to say, devastated. Toni went with Bitty’s sister to get tattoos for Bitty. They each got the same sun that Bitty had tattooed on her ankle when they were kids. This Toni was entering into a state of grief and depression that would last for years to come.
    6) Age 27: This Toni was really struggling. She had spent her 20’s fruitlessly trying to save the world from George W. Bush, and failing at starting a business. Toni had wanted to start an organic fast food restaurant that rivaled McDonald’s, but a variety of circumstances (mostly self inflicted) inhibited Toni’s dream. This Toni felt that her Tinkerbelle tattoo had become a self-fulfilling prophecy – that she’d spent her life and time sprinkling her fairy dust around, saving nothing for herself, and perpetually in love with man-boys that didn’t appreciate her. Toni decided to cover her Tinkerbelle tattoo to commemorate Bitty, who in the Chinese zodiac was the year of the monkey. Toni didn’t think of the irony of having a monkey on her back and still doesn’t thank you very much.
    7) Age 28: Toni had just returned from living on bus for a year that ran on veggie-oil. She had traveled the country with that same 3rd boyfriend that had broken her heart, then put it back together, and then broke it a few more times. On that bus they did things like went to Burning Man because of course they did, and traveled up and down the California / Oregon coast. This Toni had come to reconcile the history of her being a failed female entrepreneur, and felt the soul searching done while living on a bus had changed her fundamentally. Toni was on a spiritual path of holistic healing because she had a brain tumor in her pituitary gland and was convinced she could heal herself holistically. Toni didn’t really know what the word holistic meant though, but holistically liked the sound of it. Toni decided she wanted to get the “tree of life” tattooed on her inner arm. The tattoo man drew a tree and Toni didn’t like it. He drew another tree and Toni didn’t like it. The tattoo man then looked Toni in the eyes and said, “Draw your own fucking tattoo.” Toni did. She liked it.
    8) Age 29: Toni had just completed a 10-day silent meditation retreat. She was in a state of rewiring her brain, and shedding the skin of who she thought she was. Toni decided to get a tattoo at the same parlor that gave Bitty her underage tattoo when they were 16. (Bitty was very jealous of Toni’s Tinkerbelle, and the only way to rectify this trauma was to find a man at “Mom’s Tattoos” that would pretend it was reasonable that Toni and Bitty “forgot our ID’s at home”). Toni went to Mom’s and got a lotus flower on the front of her heart, and on the back. It was the only tattoo Toni ever got that didn’t hurt.
    9) Age 35: Toni was in a bad place. There was drama with her family, she felt like her life was meaningless, and nothing she ever tried to do professionally had ever materialized the way she wanted. But she had her kid!! So that was cool, especially because Toni was told she could never have kids due to her brain tumor. Also, said kid was pretty cool and Toni liked her. Toni decided it was time to cover up her tribal band because holy shit how did she live with that for so long? THE SHAME! The family tattoo man came to Toni’s kitchen the evening of Thanksgiving to do the cover up. Toni wasn’t sure what she wanted to get, and suggested it has something to do with trees as she herself was smoking trees. The tattoo man decided it might be easier to do the cover up if he just drew on Toni’s leg with the tattoo gun. Toni agreed that this was the best idea and two hours later Toni had an epic motif of trees around her ankle. Then Toni took another hit of weed and realized, “Oh wait, I totally forgot. I already have a tattoo of a tree” and lifted the sleeve of her shirt to reveal her arm. Toni and the tattoo man had a good laugh.
    10) Age 37: Toni realized that her daughter drew the exact same spiral-heart shape design that Toni used to draw as a kid. Toni had her daughter’s spiral-heart tattooed precisely as her daughter drew it on her arm because Toni loved the shit out of that kid that reminded her so much of herself.

    Here I am getting my 38th year tattoo… and obvi being a role model for The Munch. If you’re wondering what I got, it’s the constellation “cancer” and a moon for my moon child – the light of my life, and the person who makes me make her sandwiches.

    January 3, 2018 • 7 years old, emotions, Musings, Old School Stories • Views: 613

  • Do You Want To Share Reality With Me?

    The other day the Munch was having a play date with a friend, and they started arguing over which game to play – bakery vs. chipmunks making poop pie. Now call me out of touch with the youths, but I personally didn’t see a difference between the two ideas. I suggested they merge the games by one pretending to play bakery, and the other pretending to play chipmunks making poop pie. Sounds reasonable right? Well, it’s fucking not according to these girls.

    The girls condescendingly explained to me that my vision of separate realities would not work for them, and then rolled their eyes at my ignorance. They instead had to agree on a shared reality of what they were playing, even though what they were playing was pretend. I had assumed that since the game existed purely in their imaginations, it didn’t really matter what the other person was imagining – but I was goddamn wrong. It mattered a fuck of a lot to these girls, and was worth spending the next 20 minutes negotiating with the complex nuance of a Palestinian freedom fighter and Israeli soldier. These kids refused to continue playing their fantasy game until they had agreed on a common understanding of their imaginary experience.

    The sharing of reality was crucial, even inside a make-believe world.

    I think we can all learn something from this bakery vs. chipmunks making poop pie saga, mainly that my kid is weird as fuck for insisting chipmunks make poop pie when everyone knows they actually make diarrhea flan – but that’s just semantics. But the other lesson we can glean is just how vital it is for people to have a mutual understanding of their perceived reality both on the micro and macro levels.

    If you’re in a relationship with someone, living with them day in and day out, waking up with them every morning to see their face, going to bed with them every night with their breath on you – you know, the romance of being in a long-term committed relationship – then you also know how important it is that you both analyze your dynamic in a similar way. Sharing reality with someone is the only way to keep things functional. If you and I were together and we got into a fight because I was an asshole and you were an asshole, our common understanding of our individual asshole behavior would be imperative to coming back together. I would HAVE to see how thought I was an asshole, just like you would HAVE to see how I thought you were an asshole. If we both agreed on our asshole behavior, then peace could be made. (PS that agreement would consist of you admitting that you were the asshole and how the whole fight was actually your damn fault okay? GET IT!?)
    Yet if you don’t own your part of the equation when shit goes down, you don’t share a common reality of what happened, and then things then fall apart. When you refuse to look at yourself or be honest about how your actions impact others, then it’s easy to justify whatever behavior you want. You can become indignant and stuck in a paradigm of feeling superior. Yet part of being in a relationship with someone is learning how to understand the effect of your behavior on the other person. You have to be able to admit fault and come to a collective agreement of what happened. That is how we get closure. We have to mostly agree on our understanding of what happened. Of course we will always hold onto our subjective twists, yet the majority of the story needs to be consistent in order to feel emotionally connected.

    The best relationships are the ones where the couple is on the same page when it comes to dissecting their lives together. If you were to separate them and ask them to deconstruct their relationship, their fights, their faults, their main issues, what works and what doesn’t – they would mostly say the same things. When you share the story of your relationship then real communication is happening. When relationships have authentic communication, then it’s more possible to develop deeper intimacy. A major aspect of trusting each other is trusting that you both see things in a similar way. In order for that to be truly achieved, both parties have to be open to candid self-reflection. The more honest we are with ourselves about our motivations, insecurities, and shadow sides, the more honest we can be with our partners.

    We all can behave in ways that suck, or allow the worst of ourselves to sometimes take over – that’s to be expected. Yet when you own up to those parts of you, and those patterns, then it’s more possible to work through them in a real way. In order for that to be accomplished, you and your partner have to set aside your egos and replace the need to be right with the desire to understand each other.

    In the macro sense our shared reality is dwindling by the second, which is why Trump, partisan politics, and the idea of “fake news” is so fundamental. It kind of enrages me that Trump has taken over the concept of “fake news” because that used to be a hyper-progressive lefty thing. When I was in my 20’s I was always talking about fake news too – but what I meant by it was the corporate controlled media that had a vested interest in censoring information to protect their economic agenda. I would go on and on about Diebold and the voting machines being rigged in Florida so Jeb Bush could hand the presidency over to his brother. At that point the Internet was just starting to question official stories like 9/11, and I was ripe to eat up all the information about the lizard elite and their secret societies. Yeah fine, maybe I was off the deep end a bit and a little too open to aliens being the answer to all I didn’t understand, but I also think there was validity to questioning the “official stories” the government was telling me.

    Then the Internet became flooded with information, and as a result there now is an oversaturation of conspiracy. The real conspiracy is that there are now too many conspiracies to keep track of. Maybe that was an intentional move by the “New World Order” to keep us confused? Rather than denying “alternative information” that wasn’t controlled by the corporate media, they decided to allow all of it in order to dilute the brand.

    There are now so many versions of alternative truths that it is impossible to decipher what was what. No matter what you think, you can prove your hypothesis on the Internet. You want to think vaccines are harmless? Well, there is plenty of information that will support that thinking. You want to think vaccines will cause your child to become a mutant and grow scales? You can find that too. No matter what you want to believe, you can reinforce your beliefs with the “facts” on the Internet.

    Then we have Donny Trump yelling about “fake news” which only furthers us from having a collective reality as a society. Yeah maybe it was just as dangerous when everyone thought the New York Times was the Bible, but at least there was a communal story we were all buying into. There was unity in that, even if it was also delusional. The fantasy world we as adults buy into isn’t that much different than the imaginary world Munch and her friend were creating – they both rely on story to keep everything together. But now that there are so many potential narratives to believe, we’re all psychically being ripped at the seams.

    For thousands of years humans have used stories to organize themselves – the two most effective being the stories of religion and the story of money having actual value. Money isn’t real, but a collective fantasy we all agree to, just like religion. These are the fairy tails that have kept humans structured for millennia. It may be scary to think how much make believe stories are the scaffolding we’ve built our entire society around, but it’s true.

    Yet currently in modern America we no longer have a collective story that we’re all connecting to. Maybe that why the “Make America Great Again” slogan was so appealing to so many? Perhaps part of the nostalgia we cling to is how everyone was way more conformist in the past and bought into the story of the American identity? Yeah they were fucked up racist, sexist, homophobic stories designed to make us consumerist drones, but most people told them to themselves and their children. It was the American sexist, racist, homophobic story, until then those damn hippies started unraveling everything, encouraging people to think for themselves and question the narrative that women belonged in the kitchen, people of color belonged in segregated ghettos, and homosexuals belonged in hell.

    I embrace the rewriting of these stories because the past wrote a fucked up plot that I don’t want to be part of, but what are the new stories we’re writing? Some of the stories people are telling themselves today make me question if we’re even the same species. I don’t share reality with the white women in Alabama that voted for Roy Moore! That’s not a bedtime story I’m telling my kid at night. I don’t even know where to begin to find a common reality with those chicks that voted into office a molester? Yet I guess that’s what we have to start figuring out. What is the most base, common reality we share with people and then start slowly building a common understanding. Maybe we both enjoy marshmallows, and we can use that to keep finding common ground, and write a collective story together where maybe, just maybe, a fucking child molester shouldn’t be considered a candidate for senator.

    (Ps if you’re wondering where these delightful/disturbing images are coming from, follow my on Instagram to see my interpretive dance where Trump uses the language of my body to express his heartache after the Roy Moore loss. Toni Nagy)

  • Maybe I’m not a total failure after all?

    In this age of social media where we’re constantly seduced into comparing our lives to the glorious existence of others, it’s easier than ever to feel like a total failure. If it weren’t for Facebook I wouldn’t know that a kid I went to high school with was now a U.S Representative and probably going to be president one day while I’m watching his speeches about health care stoned in my sweatpants. Forget the fact that he’s a Kennedy, he knew what he wanted out of life and pursued it with focus while I’m busy thinking how I should start micro-dosing mushrooms because then maybe I’ll come up with more vaginal related humor.

    I try not to envy others because jealousy is one of the most useless emotions. It doesn’t motivate me but rather traps me in a cage of my own insecurity and all I can do is feast off the flesh of whatever carrion the zookeeper of my psyche nonchalantly tosses at me. I grew up in a very competitive environment living in a Harvard Dorm as a child, and then going to a private school where kids were having panic attacks in the 5th grade because they feared an 85% on their spelling test meant they weren’t getting into MIT and only getting into Brown would cause deep shame to their family.

    I was used to competition and probably even felt it was healthy. It wasn’t until I drank ayahuasca in my 20’s (of course that happened) that I realized my competitive nature was part of my dis-ease. The medicinal vine showed me that comparing myself to others was what was holding me back emotionally in life and an energy I had to address. From that moment forward every time I felt myself comparing myself to someone else, either to feel better than them or worse than them, I would send that person loving kind energy. You should fucking try this sometime because it actually works. The minute you feel the impulse stop yourself, send them some love, and move on to the next thought. Don’t worry – you have thousands up there, like being curious if white supremacists worship albinos. I HAVE TO KNOW!

    Yet even though I developed this practice to stop me from comparing myself to others, I still have all this competitive energy socialized into me. Because I’ve been so committed not to direct it towards other people, its morphed into competing with myself. I think this is mostly okay, but also means that I’m always striving towards something in front of me. No matter what I accomplish, I’m then already focusing the next goal. I’m like one of those horses in a race chasing a fake rabbit that will always be a few paces ahead. I run faster and faster, frothing at the mouth hoping to catch up with a dream that is unattainable because I’m not meant to reach it. Okay fine, that’s not a great way to be either. Whatever no one’s perfect.

    Everyone always tells me I have to enjoy the journey because the journey is all we have. Yeah, yeah, yeah, the stupid journey. Don’t get me wrong, I believe this to be true, it’s just hard for me. I try my best to have patience with myself and realize that there is no destination because the place I’m trying to go will always change. I can’t reach the horizon because it actually doesn’t exist. It’s just an abstract line in front of me that will always move farther into the distance. There’s no point in stressing out about my lack of success because I’ll probably always want more. The best thing I can do is to accept that truth, and appreciate the process. I’m trying. I really am. Some days are better than others, but there are moments where I can actually feel this peace of mind and not just pretend I do.

    But what is success really? The way I measure success is through my work ambitions, but is that a metric I should be using? Aren’t there other ways to track success beyond the recognition of the economic marketplace validating your effort? Is my obsessive determination to quantify my artistic self my only worth? Of course not, even though it can feel that way for me.

    What I realized about myself recently is that all the parts of myself I value the most are the most conventionally “masculine” aspects of my personality. I respect that I work really hard, that I’m driven, that I don’t have emotions, that I rarely cry, that I’m hyper rational and argue like a corrupted corporate lawyer. It’s rare that I look at my more feminine qualities and honor them as part of my success.

    YOU GUYS!! DID YOU HEAR WHAT I JUST SAID? This is so humiliating to admit? I secretly worship my inner male and cast aside my inner female? Me?? The womb worshipping witchy woman? How can this be? How insane is it that a rabid feminist that gnaws at the heels of the patriarchy is still so internally ruled by it. I never feel pride about my more “feminine” successes. They are not a part of my self-esteem. In fact, I barely even notice them. So how can someone like me, who so openly honors the feminine in others, disgrace it in myself?

    When I confessed this to myself I was overcome with confusion. My whole life’s goal has been to venerate the metaphoric vagina in all of us. I believe the feminine aspects of all humans have to be penetrated into culture. Society has been ruled by the so-called “male” for so many thousands of years and we’re obviously out of balance. I’m not talking gender binary because gender is a fluid spectrum every person experiences. I’m talking about how society has defined, boxed in, and co-opted our understanding of gender. Whether we identify with gender or not, the gender stereotypes exist and we’ve been over valuing the “masculine” since the dawn of the patriarchy.

    If I’m going to self-righteously preach the glory of the feminine and how we need its influence, I also have to apply this rhetoric to myself. Isn’t it time I de-program my vision of success through this masculine financially based model and look at what I’ve accomplished that isn’t quantified? I may be an economic failure, but that doesn’t mean I’m useless. For the first time I looked at my life and proclaimed to myself that my greatest success has been being a mother.

    I know. I just said that.

    This may be something many women feel, but it was never something I felt. It didn’t even occur to be to see my mothering as a success. First of all, my life is my writing and that’s not funny content to write about – no one wants to hear about that. Can you imagine if my blog was just a series of humble brags about how much I loved my kid and what an easy time we were having? Boring. Snore. Blah. Makes me want to barf. But the truth is, that I’ve done a pretty fucking great job raising my kid, so much so that I can barely write about her anymore because she’s just so damn delightful. We have very little conflict, she’s wonderful to be around, I really enjoy her company, and our boundaries are super clear. I don’t feel like I even have to parent The Munch right now. I ask her to do things and she just does them because we have an understanding of how to best live together and there is mutual respect. The Munch is more like a roommate than I kid that I have to constantly monitor their behavior. I mean just writing this paragraph kind of made me gag, but I’m trying to hold back the bile.

    I’m sitting with this. I’m doing my best to let myself feel the success in my mothering and just not feel like a total failure for one day of my life. Sure most of the things I apply to reject me. Yeah I prostitute myself on the regular for “likes,” “comments,” and “followers.” Yes I spend everyday desperately trying to make myself culturally relevant in an artistic world oversaturated with talent and content. That’s all still true and can eat away at my soul like a raccoon at the dump of trashed self-confidence. Yet I do have this one gem in my life – this little person I’ve influenced that is not an asshole. That’s got to count for something right?

  • 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)