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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Dealing with Rejection

    I have a lot of rejection in my life. I will work really hard on something, put it out into the world hoping someone will like it, wait patiently for their response (otherwise known as checking my email compulsively every 11 seconds), and when I finally get a reply… they will say “no.” I then have to put the pieces of my self-esteem back together like a puzzle that is NOW MISSING FUCKING PIECES BECAUSE MY EGO HAS BEEN SHATTERED!

    Not everyone picks a career path where rejection is part of the process. But writing and making movies is my passion, so it doesn’t feel like a choice. I NEED to make content that will distract people from their lives – while I desperately try to make them think deeply about their lives and how they shouldn’t be so easily distracted. It’s a delicate balance.

    I know everyone who’s in the dating scene also deals with rejection, but if a man weren’t into me – who cares. It’s not like you are going to be compatible with every dude you may want to mash your genitals against. When a guy has rejected me it may have hurt, but that pain was easier to move past because it’s just some dude’s opinion. I mean… it’s not like I ever made out with a boy I met at a club, found out the next day he had a girlfriend who happened to be my Facebook friend, and then proceeded to stalk them both for the next 6 months wondering why he wanted to be with her and not me. I mean that would be crazy!!

    Even though I know rejection is going to be part of my path, that doesn’t make it any less soul sucking. For me it is the worst kind of rejection because my art is the deepest part of who I am. I can’t play it off and say “well that person didn’t really know the real me,” because I am exposing myself fully – maybe too fully for some.

    A few years ago an editor for a publishing company contacted me saying she thought I should write a book, and to write a proposal for her. I did what she asked, and after reading it she responded “No thank you. That’s enough of that. ”

    She found me only to reject me later!?

    But these things happen all the time. I recently applied for something and got rejected the same day!? How did you know so you didn’t want me so quickly!?

    I try to do all sorts of new age hippy visualization actualization manifestation work. I pray on the new moon, and write my intentions on the wall with period blood. I light candles and picture the future I want. I thank the universe for abundance and try to show gratitude. But I’m beginning to feel like the cosmos can suck my dick.

    My most recent venture is a movie script that I wrote with my friend Bridget. It’s a comedy about a female friendship, and let me tell you, it is pretty insane. If you read it you would say to yourself “yup, she went there.”

    I am working with a producer who has been helping us try to get it made, and she has been sharing her Hollywood network with us. With her help, we got the script to the actress I wanted to play the main role – Ilana Glazer from Broad City.

    The producer was the one who suggested Ilana for the part, and I knew instantly she would be prefect. I love Ilana. I think she is a comedic genius, and have so much respect for her. So for the last 89 drafts of working on the script, I had Ilana in mind. I thought about her obsessively… when driving, eating, sleeping… meditating (even though I am not technically thinking, so rather I was meditating on her). I talked about her constantly, and would wonder what she would think of this scene or that.

    I would have these fantasies that Ilana loved the script so much that she not only wanted to do the movie, but also wanted to be friends with Bridget and me. We would do fun friend things like braid each other’s hair and share tampons. A montage of our relationship played out in my head, and it always ended in a harmless pillow fight with lots of giggling.

    Those 3 weeks that Ilana had my script were the longest of my life – and then I got an answer. She said “no.”

    My heartbreak was consuming. I couldn’t say, “oh she isn’t that great anyway who cares” because she is that great. She is fucking amazing. Her type of comedy is the shit. I will never know why she said “no,” but “no” is what she said and I have to live with it. No sharing baths in our future or getting matching tattoos. I guess Ilana wants to write her own damn movie.

    After the Ilana rejection I was super depressed. It was a heartbreak of epic proportions. I couldn’t move on, or think of anyone else to play this part. I would just look out my window and think of Ilana.

    I had this deep melancholy I couldn’t work through. But I had one more glimmer of hope for this script. I had applied it to the Sundance Screen Writer’s Lab, and it had gotten through the first round. That meant they liked the first 15 pages, and wanted to read the rest. If I could get into Sundance – that would hopefully open up the doors I needed.

    I was going to find out on December 16th – but that was also a busy day for me creatively. I had to work, had dance rehearsal, and then was going to film my friend’s rap video. I couldn’t be in a terrible mood for that, because it would be really hard to rap when someone was behind the camera crying about their failures… Just not the right vibe for hip hop.

    I didn’t check my email until 12pm. I sat down took a deep breath, envisioned an acceptances letter, and looked. It was a “no.”

    My stomach dropped.

    I felt so lost and hopeless. The sadness was starting to set in, and I was about to cry. I texted my friend Bridget and we commiserated in the dejection.

    I felt like I was at a crossroads emotionally. Part of me was ready to get super fucking depressed and feel really sorry for myself. But I also just was really depressed, and felt a little bored of depressed Toni. When I’m depressed, I’m more self-absorbed. I care less about what other people are saying, because I am just waiting for my turn to talk about how bad I feel about everything. Depressed Toni is kind of egocentric.

    Just as the tears were about to fall I thought of something. When I had read the list of films that were going to Sundance they were all really serious. There were movies about Civil Rights, sexual assault, autism, public executions… really heavy shit. I started picturing Bridget and myself at a roundtable where everyone was pitching their script. The person next to us would say, “My script is about a young girl who was kidnapped from her village in Uganda and then sold into the sex trade.” Everyone would nod quietly in deep contemplation. Then it would be our turn, and we would say, “Our movie has the main character getting dumped by her boyfriend while dressed in a giant penis costume, and also a pretty sweet colonic scene where years of impacted shit sprays into her mouth.”

    I started laughing hysterically.

    The movie we wrote was never getting Sundance. If Sundance were to be interested in a comedy, it would be a sweet irreverent story about a boy and his goat in the mountains of Uzbekistan with beautiful cinematography. Not my crass over the top comedy that culminates in a birth scene where someone pulls out their own placenta. That is just not happening!

    In a way I was totally delusional thinking what I wrote was EVER going to make it into Sundance, but that mirage at least slowed me down for a while. Where I am usually excessively manic and a workaholic, I actually relaxed for a few weeks. Even though I thought I was going wallow in misery after this rejection, I actually feel pretty energized and ready to keep trying.

    I may not be where I want to be right now in my career dreams, but I think I am going to start sewing that penis costume anyway.

    Look how happy he is!

    aufblasbares-penis-kostuem-sexy-kostuem-bachlor-party-zubehoer-frivole-karnevalskostueme-18261

    December 21, 2015 • Musings, Working Mommy • Views: 1695

  • Is It Bad That I Didn’t Miss You?

    There are a lot of things that we are supposed to say in order not to seem like total sociopaths. I am supposed to say things like “I love my parents,” or, “I would die for the people in my family,” or “excuse me” if I fart. To say anything different would make me look like a total psycho. As the mother of a child the one thing I *really* should be saying is “I miss my child desperately when I am away because she is the joy of my life and the light of my loins.” Okay but here is the thing, I was just gone for five days from The Munch – and I am pretty sure I didn’t miss her at all.

    Ummmm is that bad? Does that make me a terrible person? I didn’t even really think about Munch that much when I was gone either. Holy crap – that makes me a worse person doesn’t it. Fuck. I am not doing well right now. Wait… wait for it… okay breathe… it actually felt awesome not to think about or miss my child. Shit.

    For the first 15 months of Munch’s life I was basically with her every minute of every day. Trust me. Read my blog during those early years and there is a meticulous account of every detail, including the consistency of her feces once food was introduced. But now that The Munch is four, there is more autonomy for us both. We have our own lives separate from each other. Munch goes to school, she has a babysitter, she spends time with family… Yet even though I do have physical freedom in my everyday life – what I don’t have is mental freedom. I am always having to think about where she is, who is picking her up, what food she has, if she is wearing the right leotard, does she have her rain coat, is there an extra pair of shoes in her bag, and are they the right fucking shoes because my kid is both neurotic and crazy.

    PS…. I also didn’t miss the tantrums, the yelling in my face about not giving her a 3rd piece of chocolate, the shoe throwing, the stink eye, the refusal to get dressed in warm clothes… you know, the basic toddler rage or a developing human.

    I don’t go away that often, so those days where I could just think about me and my needs were seriously epic. I was hundreds of miles away from Munch, and having a break from being responsible for her was as satisfying as burping after drinking soda too fast. It made me realize just how emotionally taxing it is to always have someone else on your mind. To be constantly worrying about them, and wanting to make sure they are okay. It is like Munch is a fascist dictator of my brain and heart. But it is not her fault! Well sort of, because she is really demanding…. But I blame the biological and psychological bond of motherhood more because holy fuck is it intense. Thanks a lot nature!

    On day three, The Munch was missing me so I talked to her on the phone. She was crying and telling me she wanted me to come back – but I got her laughing so then she was fine. Although I was momentarily sad that Munch was sad, it was also amazing talking to her on the phone because I never really do that either. There aren’t a lot of opportunities because we aren’t usually away from each other for that long. Yet having a phone call with my kid only further reinforced the truth of how the physical separation between us is only increasing as she ages. The attachment of those baby years is no longer, and now our relationship will have to withstand distance. Munch and are only going to grow farther apart because her life will take her away from me at times, as will mine. We can’t be together every moment of every day, so the journey then turns into staying emotionally connected even when we are not in each other’s faces.

    There is a certain beauty of loving someone so much you yearn for them. The Munch missed me because I have been the anchor of her life, and I represent so much in terms of love, safety, and security. Yet soon The Munch will crave independence, and want to get away from me. It is probably then that I will miss her desperately and call crying, but she will be like “Ugh… thank god I am away from my mom so she can stop fucking writing about me for five minutes.” But fuck you future Munch because I will write about that phone call so you can’t escape me!

    When I got home Munch was sooooo happy to see me that it actually made me tear up. She kept hugging and kissing me – telling me how much she loved me. I felt so honored to mean so much to this precious person. I was totally humbled by how much I adored her, and how lucky I was to have this tiny tyrannical human in my life. I held Munch in my arms and knew that every moment, even the hardest ones, were totally profound because of the depth of our love. Then of course she got mad at me because I wouldn’t let her watch “My Little Pony,” and I started planning my next trip.

    didn't-miss-you-blog-(i)

    September 22, 2014 • 4 years old, Adventures, Mommy Mind, Mommyhood, Parenting, Relationships, Working Mommy • Views: 1760

  • Swimming In Bacteria Like a Boss

    Okay. So I totally fucked up. But it’s not totally my fault. It is also nature’s fault… and global warming… and all the politicians/corporations/bankers who are ass fucking the planet. But I guess it is also my fault too.

    This is what happened. I live on a lake. It is a beautiful clean mountain lake. I have always thought it was a magical, healing, energetically pure body of water. It never occurred to me to doubt its virtue. The other day my baby sitter, Lilliana, brought The Munch to the beach to go swimming and was told not to go in because of bacteria contaminating the water. When Lilliana texted me this information I was like, “what the holy dick hole. I don’t believe this shit. I have never heard of this in my life. NEVER in 30 years on this lake have I been told not to swim because of bacteria! That is some serious yuppie bullshit!!”

    I just didn’t believe the hype, and quite arrogantly considering I did ZERO research on the subject. Had I just taken… oh… I don’t know… 3 minutes on the Internet all my questions would have been solved. But NO! I was NOT going to be told that I couldn’t swim in the damn lake I have been swimming in my whole damn life.

    Okay so this is where shit got bad. Later that afternoon when I went to pick up Munch she mentioned our plan to go swimming that we had made earlier that morning before this whole debacle.

    Toni: Do you think we should care about the bacteria in the water?
    Munch: Nope.
    Toni: Cool. I am going to trust you because you have the wisdom of a 4-year old. Forget the fact that I am an adult who can and should research potentially dangerous situations. Lets do this because you, my child, say its cool.

    And we drove straight to the bacteria filled beach.

    Okay, so here is a little context. For one… august has been cold as fuck. New England weather already sucks, and our summer has been uncharacteristically short. It didn’t get warm enough to swim until July, and then we had a serious cold rainy front for most of August. Essentially we got dicked out of summer and our only swimming time. After days and days of crappy weather, it was finally a nice day to swim. To not go because of some cryptic threat seemed ludicrous.

    Then next influence is my overall denial of drastic changes in the environment. I know they exist – but I don’t want to actually believe it. I see all those kids wearing sun shirts to protect their skin from the hole in the ozone, but I keep going back to the fact that I never wore sunscreen when I was a child… so what is the big deal? It is this stubborn renouncing of obvious truths because to admit reality is too painful. Yeah maybe when I was a kid the lake wasn’t contaminated, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t now.
    Here is another element of the equation that maybe is less nature’s problem and more mine. I felt SUPER guilty about how much I have been working all summer, and wasn’t feeling like I spent enough time doing stuff outside with Munch. The fact that the season was almost over, made me feel like I didn’t appreciate it. The months went by so fast, and I spent an ample of amount of time inside working trying to make something out of my life. It was this crippling realization that my relentless ambition kept me from enjoying the fleeting warm months with my child.

    The last contributing factor to this scene is the “Holly” in me. You see, my mom –Holly- has a very particular approach to life. She is they type of woman who has mustard from the 80’s that she will put in your sandwich – ignoring the fact it expired 15 years ago – and rationalize eating it because fermentation or whatever. She has fed me rice with maggots unknowingly cooked in, because hey protein. She doesn’t measure when she cooks because measuring is for pussies. She let me ride in the back of a pick up truck because you know, safety is for weak. My mom just doesn’t give a fuck. She operates on her own frequency, and her attitude has obviously impacted my psychology.

    So being told I couldn’t swim because of some stupid bacteria seemed absurd! Forget the fact that NO ONE was at the lake. Never mind the water was eerily still and I could see the algae floating on the surface. Munch and I went anyway, had a wonderful swim, and watched the sunset.

    Sooooooooooooo…

    The next morning The Munch felt a little off. Her throat hurt, her tummy was cramping, but she seemed to pull through after breakfast so I totally forgot about it.

    Later that afternoon we again went to the beach. I assumed whatever silly little water thing HAD to be cleared up by now because it was all so ridiculous any way. Buuuuuut…. yet again it was closed. Yet this time though, there was a GIANT sign explaining what was going on with the water. So yeah…. I spend a moment looking it up, and it turns any contact with this bacteria can make you sick as fuck – including skin rashes, fever, sore throats, and stomach problems.

    Ummmm whoops.

    After I read that, I couldn’t help but feel sick myself. I couldn’t tell if it was in my paranoid head, or it was because I HAD BEEN SWIMMING IN BACTERIA FILLED WATER LIKE AN OVERCONFIDENT FOOL!

    So my guilt about not playing outside enough with my kid quickly transformed into guilt about maybe poisoning her with bacteria infested water. Luckily, she seems fine and never got to the explosive diarrhea or anal leakage stage… thank god Munch has been eating over at mom’s house having old mustard sandwiches with maggot filled rice to build her immune system.

    bacteria-blog-(i)

  • How Can I Make You Notice Me?

    You ever have one of those moments that is so bizarre you think you are being filmed? Like the only way to give context to what you are experiencing is that someone is behind a camera orchestrating the insanity. You look around at the people witnessing the lunacy, and wonder if they too are perplexed, or if you the one who is mad for noticing the madness.

    I had one of those moments last weekend when I took a modern dance workshop about the art of performance. The teacher was a dancer whose career started in the 1960’s in New York City, and every stereotype you would assign to a dance teacher from 1960’s New York applied. She wasn’t a person as much as a character out of fiction, but at the same time, she was also a genius.

    Her hair traveled down to her knees as did her breasts in a hot pink leotard, but her beauty shone through any signs of aging. She would make sweeping statements like “the light of the stage supports the aura inside” and then face the window and lose herself in the moment for five whole minutes – oblivious to the passing of time. Then she would have us leave the room so we couldn’t see each other to perform for each other – which was as crazy as it was brilliant. This exercise was followed by another where each one of us would strike a pose in the center of the room while everyone else put their faces inches from your body to stare. We were asked to grab a pedestrian prop and oscillate between performing with it, and interacting with it as if no one was watching – but still while everyone was watching. Everything she did made no sense at all, and yet was totally profound.

    The question she asked that I can’t get out of my head is “what makes you look at one person and not another?” What draws you to someone when they are performing? What makes you notice them more than others?

    I think her inquiry was much more philosophical than practical. Although I will never have an exact answer, just asking the question is meaningful. My initial reaction was intention. The performer has to be really clear with their intention regarding what they want the audience to feel. Having good technique is of course important when it comes to any art form; yet it is not the totality of what makes something great. There has to be passion, substance, and belief behind what you are doing to truly stand out.

    I see a lot of talented mechanical dancers who can do things with their body that are unimaginable, yet they don’t project out into the audience. You are watching them dance, but it is as if they don’t care if you are there. Their energy is too internal, and they are not externalizing emotion. Sure there are times when someone could shut me out as the spectator of their work, but there has to be purpose behind it. Like they want me to feel left out for a reason. The person creating the art has to have vision behind what they are doing in order for me to connect to them.

    When I think to back to my own relationship to dance, I started really late, but my trajectory has taught me more about art than any class ever could. When I was 19 years old, I was in a state of rebellion and did not want to go to college. Considering both my parents were professors, very liberal, and gave me a lot of freedom – this was the best “fuck you” I could think of. Yet my not getting a higher education was a non-option unless I wanted to be disowned, so I filled out the common application and told my mom to send me wherever she wanted.

    I got into this school called Sarah Lawrence that was very artsy fartsy. When I arrived the first day I took one look around and was like “holy fuck get me out of here.” I called my mom and asked her why she sent me to The Lilith Fair for college, but she told me to stop being so ridiculous. I had gone to a really preppy high school where I had played sports all my life, and my artistic self had been only been expressed through doodling pictures of hearts with boy’s names inside. I had no idea how to fit in to this new environment. Everyone was supposed to take an art elective, and I had no artistic talent that I knew of.

    I started taking dance because there was no soccer team. I liked to go out dancing at the club and drink vodka, so I figured this was the next best thing. Forget the fact that I was surrounded by girls who had been doing plies their whole life, and felt like a fool. It was really humbling to suck, but I had to commit myself to something, and figured at least dance would help me avoid the Freshman 15.

    What I lacked in experience I made up for in enthusiasm. I would take extra classes in New York city every weekend, I would do summer programs, I would get to class early and leave late just so I could stretch more. I knew I wasn’t the best, but I was going to be the most dedicated.

    The dance teachers at my school probably were amused by my perseverance, but I don’t think they thought I had any real future in dance. I started too late, and that was that. My best dance friend Mika was another girl who also wasn’t a bun-head since birth, but who shared my undying dedication. Her and I spend all our time dancing, and even though we were not taken as seriously as the other girls who had the history we lacked, we still took each other and ourselves seriously.

    Fast forward 15 years and I saw Mika for the fist time in a decade at a hippy conference where I was teaching belly dance. Do you know what she is doing with her life and career? Dancing! She performs all the time, is a dance teacher, owned a studio, travels the world to do field work, got her masters in dance, and is now getting her PHD at UCLA in dance theory. Her love for dance made dance her life!

    From that first class that I took, I have been dancing 5 days a week since. I teach dance, perform, choreograph, and own a dance studio. The irony of this aspect of my life is that dance was something I always considered a hobby. I never expected it to be anything more than a creative outlet, so it was always fun, and life affirming. Yet it has become a really stable part of my current career. But as with my writing, which is what I WANT as my career more than anything in the whole fucking world, I am still struggling.

    I guess I have to admit that there something about the fact that I never had any specific agenda with dance beyond a devotional practice that has made it the most consistent part of my life.

    (My darling Mika…)

    noitce-me-blog-(i)

    July 23, 2014 • Musings, Old School Stories, Working Mommy • Views: 2026

  • Existential Ejaculation

    The feeling of completing something is beyond rewarding.  When you have worked for so long, and put so much effort in, that moment you finish is orgasmic.  Well almost.  It is not like I dry hump my blog entries or artistic projects and actually get off- but I am close!

    Four years ago I had this idea for a short film while I was going for a walk, and The Munch was still in my tummy.  Even then she was bossing me around and telling me what to do.  Eat now Mamma, go pee, eat some more, feel tired, go pee again, take a nap, go pee one more time, now eat again.  But between urinating in a semi-public area on the side of the road and shoving a granola bar down my throat, an idea pierced through my skull like a laser beam.

    But it was just an idea.  And I left it in their ruminate.  Not sure if it would ever manifest.  Then two years later I told my friend Bridget about it.  She liked it. We talked about doing it.  Took a few notes.  Wrote stuff down.  More time past.  22 months floated by like lily pads on a pond.  Then Bridget was visiting again and we decided to try shooting it.  We did two scenes.  Sort of liked them, but were in both in bad moods and felt unsure. Probably because we had our periods at the same time because we are gross girls! Ewwwww yuck!

    Then something shifted.  The time was now.  I wrote the rest of the script, got a team together, and we filmed it.  And now I feel like a metaphysically came all over the place. I feel so satisfied to have taken an idea and made it into a reality.  There is something truly magical from making something from nothing.

    (kind of like me sperming into bridget, impregnating her with my mind, and making this amazing fake pregga belly!!!)

    existential-ejaculation-blog-(i)

     

    June 6, 2013 • Mommy Mind, Musings, Working Mommy • Views: 2861

  • The Selfish Madonna

    The romanticized vision of the mother is as a selfless being that radiates unconditional love with endless serene expressions.  This vision is depicted in countless paintings of ‘mother holding child,’ many of which are of the Virgin Mary cradling Jesus.  I guess if I were Jesus’ mother I would be all peaceful and calm – since he was always turning my water into wine.  But for those of us who didn’t spawn holy beings, there are some pretty high societal expectations of the mother.

    There is this perception that mothers are supposed to prioritize their kids above and beyond their own needs at all times.  Yeah… kinda.  I mostly do that.  In a lot of scenarios.  But I think all moms have moments when they can be a little selfish.

    Lets take my mom as an example.  That will be fun. Won’t it Mom!?  When I was a kid, every holiday my mom would leave little baskets outside my door filled with treats.  Okay, relax.  This isn’t the selfish part.  So I would wake up in the morning and find this delightful indulgence of candy and chocolate.  Relax… I am getting there.  I would be so grateful for this lovely display that I would often save my gift.  You know… like to eat it later. I would then come home from school and the head of my Easter bunny would be gone.  So would the tail. Don’t even get my started on my Halloween candy. I don’t know about you, but coming home to your Valentine’s chocolate replaced with the empty wrappers was pretty traumatizing for me.

    There are so many things that I do for The Munch that takes into consideration her desires before my own.  But sometimes I just do what I want to do.  Like hide her favorite book so I don’t have to read it 48 times that morning.

    There are moments when I feel like pursuing my career, taking time for myself, or doing anything without her is selfish.  Of course people assure me that isn’t true.  Fuck, I can tell myself that is bullshit – but it is hard not to feel conflicted at times.  I would like to say that the time I spend away from her makes me appreciate the time I spend with her more, but I really hope she sees it like that too.  As much as a think it is vital for a mother to have a life outside her children, living parts of my life not including The Munch can feel crappy.

    I guess this is the modern conundrum.  If I were a cave woman, I would have her strapped to my back in a fur satchel and bring her with me until she was old enough to harvest and hunt for her self.  You know.  Like 6 months.  We would work together side by side and I wouldn’t have to make any of these hard decisions.  And maybe I would steal some saber tooth tiger meat when she wasn’t paying attention, but I wouldn’t touch her wooly mammoth blood because that is just wrong.

    Biologically I am bonded to The Munch in this unique and profound way.  The mother child connection is one of the most mysterious and meaningful unions, and that is why it has this reputation in the imagination of society.  But psychologically it is really important for me to continue evolving without her.  Maybe part of that process is slightly selfish, but this is going to be something she will go through too when she is a mother, so hopefully The Munch will understand that no decision is simple when you become a parent.  Especially when it comes to Halloween candy, because you better believe I am going to eat all of hers too.

    (Check out my mom ready to go after Munch’s lollipop!! She is not fucking around!)

    selfish-mommy-blog-(i)

    April 9, 2013 • Family Drama, Mommy Mind, Musings, Parenting, Working Mommy • Views: 2952

  • Creative Constipation

    I just spent the last hour looking at a white piece of paper… so that happened.

    Toni: “Much I don’t know what to write about. What should I say?”

    Munch: “Nothing.”

    Toni: “But I have to write about something! What should I do?”

    Munch: “Jump up and down.”

    Toni: “Okay….”

    Munch: “I am jumping so high.  Look at the light because I am jumping! The light is jumping too!”

    Toni: “Munch this isn’t helping me though.”

    Munch: “Mamma look at the sunset.  Say hello to him.  But you can’t see his face.”

    Toni: “Hell sun, I wish I could see your face.”

    Munch: “No you don’t want to see his face.  You want to see the moon’s face. But you have to wait.”

    Toni: “Okay fine.  But Munch, help me.  What should I write about?”

    Munch: “I don’t know.  If you go upside down like this it will be so silly.  I can go upside down, and then other side up and everything is so funny huh?

    Toni: “Yeah you are right about that.”

    Munch: “Well that sometimes happens.  But that is okay.  Because the cat is very angry. And that baby is so shy.  She is fine playing over there, but she is touching the mirror and hugging the mirror. But not putting her face on it.  She puts this over here, and up higher over here, and then it drops down and she says ‘oh no.’ She is too heavy, but she still wants to pick me up with her stroller.  Pick it up and carry it.  And tomorrow I will take her to the park.  And what is that? I think it’s a bee.  It’s a pretend bee.  It’s not a real bee.  Just pretend.  And the bee will kiss all the flowers.  But it won’t sting me because it is not summer.  And baby has socks, and she is lying down and says to the cat meow.  Meow.  Meow.  Meow.  See you later mirror.  Mamma, you should do that.  And then you will have so much to say.”

    Toni: “Okay I am going to try that.”

    Munch: “Mamma you are not doing it right… you have to get really close to the mirror but don’t touch it with your face.  But I want to come with you.”

    Toni: “Inside the mirror?”

    Munch: “Yeah, but I need my Hello Kitty bottle and my sunglasses.”

     

    March 15, 2013 • 2 years old, Mommy Mind, Musings, Talking and Not Talking, Working Mommy • Views: 2471