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  • Pulsing Ego Walks Through Fire and Falls into Darkness and Depression

    I don’t know about you, but I spend a pretty good portion of my life doubting myself. My pulsing ego beating against the soft membranes that barely contain it, writhing in agony as I try to understand my place in the world. Intellectually I know filling my days abusing myself is probably not the best choice of my energy, so I do my best to talk myself out of my negative feelings about me. I say things like, “come on Toni, you may be financial failure and unable to commodify yourself or your art thus indicating that perhaps what you’re creating has zero value to society, buuuuuut you are a good listener and make delicious quinoa!”

    It only sort of works.

    Yet sometimes I find myself tumbling into a darkness of my own making, drowning in a cavernous abyss of insecurity where I question every decision I’ve made in the last 20 years and wonder if I’ll ever accomplish my dreams or if I’m destined for a bleak future where my ambitious aspirations will forever haunt my ego in an enteral feedback loop of failure.

    It just depends on the day!

    Recently my kid had school vacation, and she went away for 7 days to Washington DC to spend time with her two grandmothers. My mom had planned this trip months ago, yet despite my knowledge that I would be kid-free for a week, I didn’t create any grand plans for myself during this time. Usually when The Munch goes away without me, I go away as well. Almost all of our family vacations are spent apart.

    Once The Munch left, I suddenly started thinking that I should do something more exciting than spending the week at home working like I do every other week. Yet none of my attempts of finding fun or making meaning out of my life were panning out. There were no performance opportunities, no creative projects, no people dying to see me, no one wanting to work with me… nothing.

    By not having my kid at home to distract me, this extra time to myself opened up the door to the dungeon of my psyche. It’s not like I don’t get depressed about my life when The Munch is home, because I do – yet it’s hard to go really deep with it when this bright ball of light keeps bouncing around asking me to feel how smooth hot wax is that had dried to her fingers. YEAH I GET IT! I’VE LIVED ON EARTH BEFORE! The diversion of caring for another human that’s so outwardly boisterous and content keeps my disdain about my superficial existence, superficial. I more skate on the surface of my self-loathing, gliding above the ice of my anxieties, and avoid falling into the fishing holes of flagellation when The Munch is with me. Her innocence and wonder at life is contagious, and makes it harder to take my pain as seriously.

    But with the Munch not around for me to deal with her needs, my needs became like a putrid rotting open wound I couldn’t stop picking at. Once the scab of my sense of self started bleeding, I decided it was probably best to peel off all my skin and turn inside out in the process.

    Needless to say I was a lot of fun to be around!

    On Wednesday I went on a walk with my friend and told her about my spiral of self –questioning, yet rather than allowing me to stew in self pity, she reminded me that I am making a choice to pursue an artistic career. I am not a victim and my goals are lofty. There are millions of talented people who work just as hard, and there is no guarantee for any of them. I knew she was right. I know she is right. Logically yes! YES TO ALL. Yet emotionally my struggle of accepting what I know to be true was torturous. That’s the crazy thing about self-inflected pain – it’s just as painful as the pain you didn’t cause yourself.

    I then talked to another friend who reminded me of how many hundreds of auditions she does – the amount of effort she labors out into the ether, putting herself out there time and time again. Reminding me that there is a futility in trying, but it’s also only in trying that anything ever happens – so even in perceived pointlessness there is a point!

    I then had to ask myself why? Why do I try? What drives me? What pushes me forward? Why do I spend my days writing gentalia infused social commentary? What is the point?

    I kept coming back to the same answer. It’s my pain about society. I want to be a part of changing the way people think. I have a deep desire to make an impact on culture and challenge the status quo. I want to shake shit up. Maybe I’m going about it in a weird way by making videos with penis costumes and having friends seduce life-sized dolls to comment about the patriarchy – but it’s not my fault my muse is obsessed with dick jokes and comedy! I’m inspired to make art because I’m inspired to inspire others to question. For the love of Gaia I was a philosophy major at Sarah Lawrence… what do you want from me?

    So that night I spend about 8 hours on my computer trying to find every writing contest, comedy festival, short film contest I could find and started submitting my work. I use to do this all the time, but the problem with applying to things is that every time I open my email, I’d get another rejection. I’d get rejected from things I didn’t every remember applying to. It got a bit demoralizing, so I stopped trying. Yet even if there is a .00001% chance of getting accepted to things that I apply to, that’s still better than the 0% chance I have when not even applying. So to deal with the pain of rejection, I had to open my heart up to more rejection. I have to just keep working and get better at what I do until I don’t get rejected.

    Isn’t that the hilarity of life?

    I tried to re-commit to myself and my process – which is something I think we all have to do. We have to re-commit to relationships, dreams, visions, goals, because they all will disappoint you. Yet even though my brain said “re-commit to your art Toni,” my heart said, “no matter what you’ll never be satisfied so you might as well take all that eternal angst and commit your organs to science.” The days went on, and I tried to talk myself out my sadness, but couldn’t.

    The Munch returned, yet my emptiness remained. We had our friends over to make chocolate chip banana bread, and my friend told me I was putting in too many chocolate chips which I didn’t even think was possible. We sat down to do a tarot reading and I picked a card on my career and suddenly my stomach hurt more than it ever had in my life. I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I went to the bathroom and tried to evacuate the demon clawing its way out my colon, but nothing came out of me. I couldn’t puke, I couldn’t poop, nothing.

    I told my friend I was really hurting and felt like a creature was gnawing its way through my intestines – she suggested maybe I had ecoli. I went back to the bathroom and the pain was so intense it was blinding. Now I am NEVER one to go the hospital, yet I started to think maybe that’s where I needed to go. I felt like I was dying. I didn’t have the energy to go to the hospital, so I decided I just had to relax. I had to relax into dying because fighting it seemed like the wrong vibe. I tried to breathe into my dying and I went and laid in bed under 3 blankets, shivering to the point of frenzy.

    The pain wouldn’t release me from its clutch, so again I slinked to the bathroom, barely able to hold up my body. I exhaled and felt a cramping so severe I honestly almost passed out. And then I took the most excruciating but also shamanic shit of my life. As soon is it was over, the pain was gone. Just as fast as it came.

    I laid on the couch for the rest of the night and had some chocolate chip banana bread – and yes there were too many chocolate chips.

    The next day I saw my healer, hoping for answers about my stomach pain, my back pain, and my emotional pain.

    Toni: I had taken some expired Advil. Do you think that could have been the reason my stomach hurt so much?
    Healer: No, I don’t think so. Get on the table and let’s check you out.
    Toni: Okay.
    Healer: Well, your first chakra is split, your 5th chakra is split, and your 3rd chakra is not only split, but it has an entity attached to it.
    Toni: Oh dear!
    Healer: Let me just remove the entity… AHHH it jumped on me!
    Toni: Goodness! Did you catch it?
    Healer: Give me a moment.

    (Pause for dramatic exorcism of entity)

    Healer: Okay. It’s gone.
    Toni: Wow. Do you think that’s why my stomach hurt so much yesterday?

    My healer looked at me with an expression of genuine bewilderment.

    Healer: I don’t know? How could I know that?

    Let’s not forget that my healer DID know that I had an inter-dimensional being lodged in my 3rd charka that she had to physically remove – yet what she did NOT know was if that galactic creature was the cause of my stomachache… which is actually totally fair when you think about it rationally.

    I left my healer’s house feeling better. You could attribute it to a thousand things… pending your belief system and how open your mind is. All I can say for sure is that I feel a lot lighter… that could have been the epic shit too? Who knows?

    I mean… this IS how I choose to spend my days after all…

    May 9, 2018 • emotions, Mommy Mind, Mommyhood, Musings, problems, responsibilities • Views: 477

  • Emotional Hand Jobs

    I have a lot of social anxiety around people. Wait, let me rephrase that – I have a lot of social anxiety around people that don’t know me and I have to prove my worth through some sort of pithy conversational cue that indicates my humanity and suggests there’s more to me than a woman who has dirt under her fingernails from some unknown source. Considering my personal preference to eliminate all superficial banter that Homo Sapiens are seemingly comforted by, I usually start off with such talking points as, “tell me your primal wound,” when meeting a stranger. My interest is in wanting desperately to know who someone truly is, and not hiding behind the conventions that masquerade us as the happy, perfect, success we all want to be perceived as. I want to know your darkest parts, your deepest shame, your emotional-self, the piece of you that scares you the most – and wouldn’t you know it, not everybody is down for that journey?

    Living in the woods for the past 9 years has insulated me from the societal pressures of impressing humanoids. In my community of cuntree living I’m mostly accepted as my authentic self. The chipmunks understand my crude nature, the trees don’t judge my incessant yammering about capitalism fueling the psychological raping of the patriarchy, and the grass is accustomed to my endless well of genitalia infused humor. Yet when I leave my population of moss-covered rocks and venture into the big world of urban existence where I’m exposed to a plethora of people to connect with, I tend to constantly question who the hell I’m supposed to be in order to be liked.

    Of course there the simple answer is, “yourself”- be yourself Toni!

    Or another answer is, “who cares what people think?”

    Both of these I agree with and try and implement, yet who is “myself” around those I don’t know? How can I not be aware of how others perceive me when I can’t help but notice as their brow furrows at my comment about “butt-fucking corporate greed” and how soon we will be a population of genetically modified humans where only the wealthy will be able to afford designer, Nietzschean, Uber-babies while the poor will lack the resources of genetic perfection thus igniting a cultural war between the immortal demi-god elite and the deformed, polluted, regular humans? I see how their eyes glaze over as they slowly excuse themselves from talking to me, and move stealthily away to have more comfortable conversations with someone else – avoiding eye contact should I return with more polemic antidotes.

    I’m a lot like cilantro in that way. To some, I taste very soapy.

    I struggle with accepting the fact that I turn a lot of people off because I realize I’m making a choice to approach people in the way that I do. I know I could be more likable if I was socially lubricated enough to give out emotional hand jobs. Deep down I know I am capable of deep throating their desire to stay on the surface and discuss things that aren’t as emotionally loaded as, “does your dad actually love you?” Yet instead I feel this need to avoid jerking someone off even if I know they’d enjoy my company more and instead end up furiously metaphorically masturbating while staring them in the face hoping they eventually drop their trousers and do the same.

    I feel torn about wanting to be liked and wanting to be real because those things don’t always go together.

    When I was a young kid I didn’t have any friends. SURPRISE! I had my older brother and he was the only playmate I needed. When I started the 1st grade I made one friend named Trudy who didn’t wear underwear, so I knew she understood a lot more about life than I did. She was also great at cartwheels despite the provocative consequences of the afore mentioned fashion choice. Trudy moved away for the 2nd grade, so I made one more friend to replace her. She was a very shy girl with ringlets named Ashley and we spent most of our time not talking and jumping rope. In the 3rd grade I was separated from Ashley so I became friends with a girl Lizzie, who had an exceptionally impressive blond ponytail that swung when she walked. Lizzie was popular because she was the new pretty girl with the hot hair and the popular boy had a crush on her – and as we all know – a women’s value is often defined by the caliber of boy that likes her because… the patriarchy. Yet sadly Lizzie and her luscious mane moved away after one year, leaving a black hole of the “popular girl” vacuum to be filled. I figured I would go back to my life of obscurity and singing songs about frogs and pigs with Ashley, yet because I had been Lizzie’s best friend, I inadvertently inherited her crown.

    I found being popular to be very stressful. Having many friends is theoretically nice, but when you’re a co-dependent, people-pleasing, 9- year old that feels responsible for the emotional happiness of others and has been socialized by Catholic guilt to prioritize everyone but yourself because love is conditional and only given when behaving in the manner adults want – it can be a bit overwhelming. I always wanted my friends to be happy and this created a dynamic where I was more concerned about being who THEY wanted me to be rather than who I actually was. I was intuitive enough to understand the parts of me each friend preferred, but then my personality became a performance art of negotiating the traits each audience member was most likely to enjoy.

    I lived like this for ummmm… 30 years? There was this hyper concern about the needs of others that made it impossible to prioritize the needs of myself or truly settle into the relationships that made the most sense for me. I was so desperate for love that I’d take it from anyone, even if it meant folding myself into an origami shape of their liking – “oh you’re not into me, well how about you try Toni as crane.” It wasn’t until I birthed a human that I started to address shedding this strategy of manipulating others by manipulating myself into the manipulated figure they most fancied. Not only because of my child’s all-consuming unconditional love that accepted all, didn’t judge, and whose only expectation was my utter devotion – but also because taking care of a kid is very time sucking and forced me to prioritize what was actually important.

    I think we all change, mold, and develop as we grow, but for me personally becoming someone’s mother shook me out of a coma of my own making. I started to genuinely feel like, “who gives a shit what anyone thinks but her?” My kid’s opinion of me is truly the only one that matters and she thinks I’m the fucking shit. The Munch loves my videos, she thinks I have a beautiful voice (I don’t), and she’s convinced I’m an accomplished artist purely because my hearts aren’t crooked and I can draw a descent star shape. Not that I’m basing my sense of self purely on my daughter’s perception of me because I’m aware there will come a time when she’s resentful, rebellious, or questions why she can’t smoke pot in the house when mommy does – but what I have learned from raising The Munch is that I will never be able to be who someone wants me to be because they will ALWAYS want more. They will endlessly suck from my teat, ingesting the milk of my efforts to please them and then digest my excretions while expecting me to change the diarrhea in their diapers.

    So I’ve gone the other direction. I’ve come to terms with the fact that not everyone is going to like me, and maybe I even speed that process along by being so unapologetically myself right out the gate. If you’re not interested in discussing the future of A.I. and how maybe hating yourself is what you love about yourself most, then we probably aren’t going to have a lot in common anyway. I’m not perfect at this practice of course. I can get intimated by strong personalities that think they’re better than me because hey – you probably are better than me. I can allow myself to feel bullied in conversations if the person I’m engaging with resists my efforts because they are stuck in their own ideology and too closed-minded to be willing to explore. I can find myself back in old patterns of wanting to please and allowing comments I think are dumb, offensive, annoyingly sexual towards me, or purely shallow. When I’m at my strongest I challenge, and when I’m at my weakest I acquiesce and let things slide I later wish I didn’t. Yet life is a work in progress and I guess the best I can do is keep forcing myself on people and hoping I run into those that are interested in investigating their darkness with me.

    April 18, 2018 • change, children, emotions, Mommyhood, Musings, Parenting, Political Banter • Views: 583

  • No Seriously My Child, You have NO CHOICE but to be Strong

    When I was a kid snow days were a gift from the heavens – an unexpected present from the Goddess herself, gloriously saving me from yet another mundane day of pretending to understand fractions. I’d wake up and see the world draped with that distinct frosty substance, and my heart would fill with relief as I wriggled back into the womb of my bed ready to spend my day playing “Super Mario Brothers.” Yet now that I’m a parent, a snow day instead fills me with that feeling of, “Awww fuck.”

    When you’re an obsessive workaholic that finds your sense of personal value exclusively through what you produce each day and your self-esteem is predicated on what you’re able to accomplish to the point where you fall into a deep state of anxiety if you’re not able to achieve all you expected from your waking hours – a day off can actually be kind of stressful.

    As such, I had to make a plan with The Munch about our day so we could both get what we wanted – my needing to fulfill my self-imposed compulsive demands of productivity, and her wanting to quite reasonably play with me outside. Now of course The Munch’s request for me to join her frolicking in the open tundra was appealing, yet only after I was able to feel some output out of my day. Our compromise was that she would entertain herself for 2 ½ hours, and then we’d play.

    Part of me wanted to just let The Munch do what she wanted to do (in order to extend my work time) and let her watch some bullshit show on her screen. But fuck that! No memories are made when watching some slutty monsters go to high school (this is a REAL show called “Monster High” – and I’m not slut shaming them, because I believe monsters should be as sexually adventurous as they please, just commenting on the unnecessary attire and body types they are drawn with). I didn’t want to let my kid’s imagination rot by letting her passively fill the hours with media, as tempting as that can be because are imaginations really that important?

    Since The Munch is an only child, expecting her to play by herself for a few hours is reasonable. The Munch set a timer for exactly 3 hours (the extra half hour was her gift to me) and off we went to our perspective rooms – her to play make-believe, and me to write make-believe, but in a very serious way.

    When my time was up, it was time for us to go outside. The Munch and I decided that sledding was a good plan, yet there aren’t really any good hills near my house. The closest one is about a 2 mile walk away. Of course I could have drove through the blizzard to get us there, but like most moms, I needed my car to get covered in snow so I could dig it out on film the next day pretending to be a sexy snow bunny for a video idea I had about New England girls being just as hot as California girls. Every kid has to deal with that right??

    Since we couldn’t drive, we decided that we’d hike through the snowy terrain to the sledding hill. The Munch and I packed some snacks and water, tied the sled to a string so she could pull it behind her, and off we went out into the nor’easter.

    We first had to hike up a hill about a ¼ mile long that’s as steep as a mountain. We were still optimistic at this point, despite the snow propelling with alarming speed into our faces causing an inability to see. Once we almost traversed to the top of the crest, The Munch accidently let go of the string pulling the sled, and had to run full speed and dive to catch it, otherwise the sled would have slid the entire way back down the hill. I have to say I was pretty impressed by The Munch’s instincts, because she plunged headfirst and slid about 8 feet to grab the string just in time.

    Watching my daughter throw her body down a hill and glide on her stomach like a seal version of Neo from the Matrix to retrieve this sled got me thinking. I know it’s common rhetoric to talk about the need of raising your daughter to be a strong woman. You hear that a lot right? Yet I started to think about the harsh reality that I may have to raise my daughter to be strong in a different way than what I’ve been assuming. Not just strong in the sense that she’s strong enough to say “no” to a man whose advances she doesn’t consent to, or strong enough to become a leader in whatever occupation she chooses. There is the emotional strength I’m familiar with of being a woman within the patriarchy and trying to find my place of significance despite the insidious sexism that still permeates most of modern culture. Yet with my quest of challenging social paradigms I’m still physically comfortable and live in a western world that provides me with the illusion of personal safety. Despite my being sexually harassed and Weinsteined every so often, I do take for granted my access to the basic luxuries of life – like having electricity and easy access to food.

    Yet suddenly it dawned on me that I may have to empower my daughter in an entirely other way as well. The Munch may have to be strong in ways I never had to be considering the future I’m handing her. There is a pretty good chance that my daughter has to be strong enough to survive THE MOTHER FUCKING APOCALYPSE!!!!!!!!

    Was I being alarmist? Maybe? Was I perhaps a little stoned/paranoid, thus envisioning the potential future we are racing towards that’s laden with biblical style horrors led by the insanity of our current administration? Possibly? Yet it’s also naïve to assume that The Munch is going to experience the same lifestyle I am currently enjoying considering there is major probability of MASSIVE GLOBAL CATASTROHPE.

    I started to get so despondent realizing the very REAL potential that shit could seriously hit the fan, and how my daughter’s main concerns in life won’t be comparable to mine – like how many “likes” her videos get – but rather her troubles will be whether or not she’ll endure the pending ice age caused by all the cataclysmic erratic weather patterns. Or if she’ll be able to live through the violence that will ensue as resources diminish and water is the most valuable commodity.

    As we continued to hike through this mammoth tempest towards our sledding hill, my mind was filled with prophecies of this tragic future and how my child might one day be desperately searching for animal carcasses to feast on the raw carrion, as fire would be a luxury only the 1% could enjoy. I started to realize that maybe I haven’t been doing my daughter any justice by keeping her warm, and cozy, and fed, and instead I needed to teach her to survive in the wild!

    The Munch: Mama, I’m hungry. Let’s take a break.
    Toni: We have to keep going! You have to be strong!
    The Munch: But I’m tired! It’s harder for me to walk than you! The snow is deeper for me! It’s only up to your knees, but it’s up higher on me! It’s past my thighs!
    Toni: Munch, what if there’s a war? Like world war 3? And we have to hike out of here to survive? How would we hide from the enemy if you had to rest because your legs were tired?
    The Munch: Easy. I’d just do this.

    The Munch proceeds to curl up in a ball to “hide.”

    Toni: Dude, I can still see you even though you can’t see me!
    The Munch: I’d just bury deeper in the snow and camouflage.

    The Munch snuggles in, and brushes some snow on her back to “camouflage.”

    Toni: I can still see you! We have to keep going!
    The Munch: My legs hurt, and my feet are cold. I should have worn wool socks.
    Toni: Dude, you have to push through the pain! Your body is capable of so much if you’re determined. You have to persevere, and train yourself to face suffering – not run from it. And who knows, you may not even have access to wool socks in the future? You have to get used to freezing toes. We have to keep going… Now what are you doing?
    The Munch: I’m drawing a picture of summer in the snow. See, here’s the sun – and the sun’s smiling because it’s warm out – and here are some flowers, and that’s me swimming.
    Toni: Munch, there is no time for drawing pictures in the snow! If we were running from the enemy we’d have to be efficient. Do you know if you can eat this kind of bark? What about this moss? Have you ever tried moss? Wait… now what are you drawing?
    Munch: It’s us sledding. See, that’s you, that’s me, that’s the sled, and that’s the sun smiling.
    Toni: No more drawing smiling suns! You have to get up and walk!
    The Munch: But I’m hungry.
    Toni: Fine, if you make it up this next hill, then you can stop and eat.
    The Munch: That hill is like a mile long!
    Toni: It’s the only way! You have to be strong!!!! We can play “I spy” while we hike.
    The Munch: We can’t play “I spy,” because everything is white and brown?
    Toni: MUNCH, YOU HAVE TO JUST KEEP GOING! YOU HAVE TO BE STRONG!

    We finally made it up the next hill, having negotiated through the snow for over a mile. I then let The Munch stop to eat, but there was no shelter for us, so we just had to sit in the snow as the wind blew more snow in our faces while even more snow fell from the sky. I took off my backpack that was… you guessed it… covered in snow, and then took off my gloves to fish out her snacks that were also… covered in snow because the snow had snowed inside my bag somehow? Those two minutes with my gloves off were excruciatingly cold, and I wasn’t sure how The Munch was going to eat her cut up apples and cheese with her gloves on? Yet The Munch took off her mittens and proceeded to enjoy her snack for the next ten minutes – not a care in the world, not complaining about her blue fingers, not saying much really. She just hummed to herself as snow collected on her eyelashes while she ate her food.

    We then slid down the hill we had just climbed and eventually hiked home. Once we were finally inside after 3 hours of outdoor training, as we peeled off our sopping wet gear The Munch turned to me, ice crusted in her hair, and said:

    Munch: That was really fun Mama! I like playing I the snow with you!

    It was then I realized that maybe The Munch will make it after all – especially because I then made her stand outside barefoot for a bit to toughen up her feet.

  • 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)

  • 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

  • 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)

  • 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: 1210

  • My Life Pretty Much Sucks, How About You?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Noam with his paper towel.

    Noam’s apartment.

    My tearful goodbye, sending Noam away.

    The culprit… my cat.

  • Getting Old

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    May 25, 2017 • ambitions, change, children, emotions, kids, Mommyhood, Musings, Parenting • Views: 1706