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Musings
Category

  • Waiting For Your Turn To Talk

    Sometimes I find myself in conversations wondering, “when are we going to get back to my favorite topic? Me.” I love talking about Toni. Talking about Toni is the most interesting thing I do. I can’t get enough of it. If you want to talk about me, I will never tire of it. If you’re interested in what Toni thinks about this or that, then I will pull up a chair. But you know what gets exhausting? Talking about you.

    As humans we are obsessed with ourselves. We find ourselves infinitely fascinating, and tend to favor our own opinions over others. Most of the time when we are relating to others, we are just waiting for our turn to talk.

    But guess what? NOBODY LIKES THAT!

    Even though we all want to compulsively talk about ourselves, our thoughts, our visions, and our complaints – it is seriously irritating when you notice other people being that way. You can feel the energy of them not listening. Their eyes are distracted, and its painfully obvious how they’re desperately trying to remember what it is they want to say. Their impatience is palpable. So you just trail off, knowing they will jump in to perform a 15-minute monologue. It is one of the most off-putting behaviors when someone talks at you endlessly, giving you the feeling that you substitute yourself with a cardboard cutout, and take off for an hour to go through Instagram filters.

    It doesn’t matter how interesting, compelling, or charismatic they are. It’s draining to have a conversation with someone that’s actually performing a one-way soliloquy. It leaves me feeling like an insignificant audience member drowned by the shadows, merely the facilitator for the proper reaction. Insert laugh here, tears there, and an “awwwwwww” at the end to wrap it up.

    Genuinely listening to others is a very attractive quality. Asking questions about their lives, remembering things they say, keeping their cast of characters fresh in your mind… this will endear you to people. If you can make someone feel heard, you will also make them feel seen, which in turn will make them feel important to you.

    So why is this so hard?

    There is an art to dialogue that is simply no longer taught or prioritized. Back in the times of ancient Greece, dialogue was the ultimate conveyer of knowledge. Socrates feared the influence of the written word because he believed that medium would destroy dialogue. He felt books are too easily misinterpreted because you can’t openly discuss your reactions with the author of the ideas you just plowed into your head. Socrates rejected writing because his worldview was predicated on the idea that best way into a genuine inquiry of philosophy was through live conversation.

    Yet how ironic is it that the only reason we know the dialogues of Socrates is because Plato wrote them down!

    Oral traditions were more exclusive with knowledge because you had to have heard the information from someone’s mouth. Where the written word can be massed produced and mass marketed. Yet does distributing information on a wide scale dilute it? On the one hand it’s fantastic anyone can have access to the vast library of human knowledge, but the criteria for who is talking has been democratized to the point where there are no longer any standards. You don’t need a PHD to create a website, you just need an IP address.

    If you think about the current manifestation of this, the Internet is so flush with information and words that you can prove anything you want. You can look up sites that say GMO’s are bad, and you can look up sites that tell you GMO’s are great. You can prove anything you want to yourself, because everyone’s goddamn opinion is posted on line to justify your thinking.

    On a personal level, this loss of dialogue has affected us even deeper. Although I enjoy reading and writing, it can be said that the modern manifestation of texting our feelings through emoji hints to the prophetic nature of Socrates’ thoughts. We would rather email someone to tell them off, then have the actual human interaction of working through conflict. How many of you have received an email from a friend/family member/lover that is just a diatribe of all they things they don’t like about you? And how have you received that? Have you ever been like, “wow, this scathing email attacking my personality really makes me think?”

    No! You usually write a contemptuous message back, and a strange cycle begins where your egos battle through this platform of screens. It is really hard to come back from these things, and usually the only way to find peace is through initiating personal contact. It is easy to hide behind screens and words rather then the complexity of face-to-face contact. That is why trolling has become such a social phenomenon. Yet we don’t only troll strangers in the dark web, we also often troll each other with the refusal of committing to direct communication.

    I think it’s crucial in these times where we are constantly being seduced by our slutty phones to work on the craft of conversation. To not text while talking, or hurry someone along so we can make our point. The best thing we can do for each other and our own psyches is learn how to be totally engaged. You know that feeling when you are talking to someone, and they are really interested in what you are saying? They are giving you their energy of paying attention. Then you pass the baton and are just as excited to hear the words that come out of their mouth. Isn’t that such a life affirming experience?

    Let’s do more of that!

    So next time you are talking to someone, a friend, someone serving you at a store, where ever you are… act like you sincerely give a shit. And I bet once you start genuinely listening, you may actually start genuinely giving a shit, which will inspire them to give a shit, and then maybe the robots won’t take over after all.

    March 23, 2017 • emotions, Musings, Relationships, Talking and Not Talking • Views: 323

  • Scratching That Itch Doesn’t Make it Go Away – it Just Moves it

    We’ve all had those moments where you ask someone to scratch your back, and some willing, but slightly irritated victim obeys. No one wants to scratch someone else’s back because as a rational person you know what you’re in for – a journey into the impossibility of satiating an itch. Seconds after the skin scraping ritual begins, the itch moves. “A little to the left,” you say. Once again, it moves. “Now back to the right,” you instruct as their nails skid across your human casing. “Now up… down… over… to the left… no to the right I said… back down again… up… more up… up some more… and…”

    An itch isn’t meant to be relieved; it is designed to torture you with craving. We fool ourselves into thinking that digging your claws into the right spot will make it go away. We forget the unavoidable truth that the very nature of yearning is rooted in the harsh reality that even when you get what you want, it isn’t what you want any more. Our collective story is fraught with examples of this. I want that man, but now that I have him, he bores me. I think that those drugs would feel divine, yet now I am puking into my shirt. I need that job – huh, boy this job is stressful. I need a vacation, and now I need a vacation from my vacation. I’ll go on this dating app to have meaningless sexual encounters, yet at the same time look for a relationship. Even though we can often see the hamster wheel of another person’s life, we put ourselves through the same cycle over and over and over again, running into the oblivion of our ravenousness.

    I think it’s that exactly feeling that our smarty pants phones tap into. This need for an instant hit of something outside of ourselves to distract our minds from the pain of our thoughts. For most of us, our brains have a mind of their own, and we are thinking about things we don’t want to think about, yet can’t stop thinking about. So we want, and want, and want some more. We want more love, more sex, more drugs, more success, more entertainment, more food, more sugar, more adoration, more acknowledgement, more appreciation, more money, more security, more freedom, more stuff… and then we want it all over again, just a better version.

    This constant striving may be the catalyst of the vast majority of our emotional suffering, yet it’s also the drive that pushes towards progress – and maybe even our own survival. The curiosity of humans, this ceaseless thirst that we cannot quench, is unique to our kind. Back in pre-history when Neanderthals reached the shores of an ocean do you know they did? They turned the fuck around because there was a goddamn giant scary body of water in front of them, and they couldn’t see the other side. Do you know what Homo sapiens did? They built a raft to float out into the unknown and see what was beyond the horizon. When the Neanderthals reached a mountain range they would camp at the bottom, but Homo sapiens, even the straight ones, would climb to the other side. Neanderthals lacked the seemingly crucial social construction of craving for more, where we Homo sapiens succumbed to it. And who the are the ones that are extinct now!?

    Even though our wanting is part of our demise, it’s also part of our successes as a species. So how do we as individuals have a more reasonable relationship to the seduction of desire? Is there a way to find balance amidst the chaos of greed?

    If there is anything that being a parent has taught me it’s that looking for someone else’s socks can make you suicidal. The other thing I learned is that children have a much greater capacity than adults to deal with disappointment. It may not seem that way at first. If I tell my kid “No you can’t watch Monster High while eating your leftover chemically ridden Valentine’s candy before bed,” she might scream for a moment in protest. This is where depending on my emotional capacity; I may give in just so she shuts the fuck up. But if I stay strong and deal with her momentary rebellion, she will forget about it, and move on. She doesn’t hold it against me. It’s not like The Munch will even bring it up again like, “remember that time you didn’t let me have that 3rd cookie?” No. She never says that shit. She just keeps living her life, not holding onto the past of her unfulfilled desires.

    Wanting shit is not the problem. It’s how we deal with not getting what we want is.

    The reason why kids move through their feelings with greater ease and grace is because they fundamentally think differently than adults. There is more space between their thoughts, because their egos aren’t as developed. The adult mind is dealing with CONSTANT chatter from the ego. Even right now as you read this very post your ego is still talking to you, judging what I say. Yet with kids, their egos aren’t as loquacious, leaving more room in their minds for observation and imagination.

    The more the mind is engaged with observing the world around us, the less energy is spent judging it. The more the brain is bouncing around creative concepts, the less it’s criticizing. So the solution to our all our problems is right in front of us. Think less by training your mind to observe, and through that you will find the wisdom of contentment in where you are in the moment – knowing it’s all a process and you’ll never truly be satisfied anyway.

    I think The Munch has tapped into this angst of mankind, and as such told me this glorious nighttime story.

    Munch: “Once upon a time there was a toilet, and this toilet was very sad. It was a sad toilet because no one was peeing in it, so it couldn’t drink pee, and no one was pooping in it, so it couldn’t eat poop. And that is the story of the sad toilet.”

    Am I raising a genius or what?

  • Not Playing the Game is the New Game

    How much do you censor yourself on a daily basis? Do you ever find yourself in situations where you want to say one thing, but instead say another in fear of how you will be perceived? How defined is your personality by the expectations of others? Do you feel like your true self has to be tamed or contained in order to protect your feelings and spare yourself from rejection?

    What would happen if everything you wanted to express, you actually did?

    As socialized humans most of us have it ingrained in us that we think before we share, and consider the emotional reaction of others when deciding how to behave. When people shun these rules, or challenge them, they are often out-casted. Yet what do you think are the cultural norms that serve us in our humanity, and what are the ones that keep us from it?

    The other day I was meeting a friend for lunch at the Green Grocer, and decided to do a bit of grocery shopping before hand. As I was loading up my bok choy and bone broth at the register, I suddenly had the feeling that I may have just shit my pants. As you can assume, this is an alarming sensation mixed with a fair amount of anxiety. At that exact moment my friend entered into the store, and started talking to me. Now, it’s kind of hard to be yourself when you’re questioning whether or not there is shit in your pants. So I did what any normal person would do… leaned over and said, “I may or may not have just shit my pants, and kind of need to investigate before I can be fully present.”

    Look… I get it that discussing sharting is not typically grocery line conversation. Yet at the same time, how frustrating is it to talk to someone who isn’t really paying attention and doing weird gestures with the bottom half of their body? Wouldn’t you rather know the truth of your company dealing with a potential bodily crisis rather than thinking you’re boring them as they stare off into the distance with an expression of deep questioning and angst?

    Lucky for me, there was no shit in my pants and I could continue with lunch unfazed by such an inconvenience. However this delightful experience did get me thinking about all the things that we hide from each other that actually might be important to know.

    Like most people, I exist in a quantum mass of contradiction. It’s not like I don’t care what people feel about me, because I do… I just don’t care what people think about me. Does this make sense? I think this comes from the two influences of my parents. My dad is like a social ambassador to the UN. He’s incredibly polite, he can talk to anyone, and he has the uncanny ability to charm even the vilest people. Where my mom will go into a store and ask the sales lady if the leggings she’s trying on is giving her a camel toe. THIS IS WHERE I COME FROM GUYS!

    I am a peacemaker. I care deeply about the emotional well being of others, but if within that context, you also happen to think I’m totally out of my mind, I’m okay with that. I feel like everyone has a mental illness they’re covering up, and the best thing we can do for each other is pull back the veil.

    Yet I also have to acknowledge that the way I deal with people has been fundamentally different from the way I’ve dealt with the opposite sex. When I was in high school my view of men was that all boys use girls. I decided that I was NOT going to be the sucker, or get used by some fucktard dude, and my solution was to cheat on EVERYONE I dated. I figured if I used guys the way they used girls, I wouldn’t feel used. So I always had multiple boyfriends, and lied to everyone. It all culminated when I was 18-years old and ran the Boston Marathon. When I got to the finish line I saw my boyfriend that went to my school, the boy I was cheating on with my boyfriend, another boy who I was having a long-term emotional affair with, my out of school boyfriend, and finally another boy I was leading on. So after running 26 miles and seeing these five boys do you know what I did? I KEPT RUNNING!!! I tried to run home… but everyone stopped me. And would you like to know the consequences of my actions? A LOT OF PEOPLE GOT HURT!

    But I least I didn’t get used right??

    The problem with modern romance is that the culture has become such where people are embarrassed for having feelings, and are ashamed for feeling love. The cool thing to do is show that you have no emotions, and how you’re just so damn cool about everything that whatever goes, and nothing matters, and who cares because Tinder.

    It’s as if the protecting our egos has become more important than sharing our hearts.

    No way I’m I gonna be the one admitting the fragility of ventricles. I’m gonna act like my aorta doesn’t need you because the humiliation of admitting that you got into my right atrium is too much to bare. You guys… I did really good in 8th grade biology can you tell?

    Men seem to think that all women want are relationships, so they act all frosty to show they aren’t ready for any serious commitment. Women know that men are paranoid about them wanting relationships, so they act all blasé to prove you’re not the kind or girl who’s desperate for commitment. Then it becomes this game of pretending like neither of you give a shit, when really, if you don’t give a shit about the person you’re fucking, chances are the sex is shit.

    You can’t enter into relationships feeling guarded, because if you do, you are avoiding the intimacy of who you both really are. There is so much fear around “what is this going to turn into,” or “am I going to get hurt by another person’s indifference,” that people so often self censor or become hyper-calculated.

    When I was in my 20’s I got bored of playing the game. So then my new strategy became to tell the guy I liked everything that’s wrong with me right in the beginning. I’d be like, “hey, I’m mostly lovely but I’m never wrong, I will emotionally eviscerate you in an argument and point out every flaw you’ve ever had, and I will totally lie to you to avoid conflict or get what I want.” EASY RIGHT!

    Technically that’s not how the game is played, but I would argue that NOT playing the game is the new game! How refreshing is radical honesty in this photo-shopped auto-tuned world? How sexy is vulnerability when everyone is treating each other like robots from West World? We are not disposable, and we shouldn’t treat each other as such just because you can swipe right again tomorrow.

    Much like how my friend probably didn’t think she wanted to know about my potentially poopy pants, it was BETTER for her that she did because then she didn’t take my feces inspired pre-occupation personally. The more open we are about what we are dealing with emotionally, the better friends we can be to each other.

    Me at 13 plotting the destruction of the future boys in my life…

    February 22, 2017 • emotions, Musings, Old School Stories, Pee & Poop, Sex Stuff • Views: 830

  • The Male Plight

    The other day I was at rehearsal for my belly dance company, and was working with a cane as a prop. As the other dancers and I were chatting and figuring out our positioning, I did what any normal adult woman would do with a cane – put it between my legs and pretended to have a penis. I then of course started to stroke it… because I’m a grown up.

    This obvious display of my maturity got me thinking about genitals in general. Looking at my cane wiener, I realized how vulnerable men must feel to have their cock and balls exposed to the world. The exterior positioning of the flopping male genitalia make men more susceptible to danger. They have to walk around with their most sensitive bits unprotected, flailing and bouncing about indiscriminately. Perhaps because of this anatomical liability, men often filter the majority of their negative emotions through a lens of aggression – as a preemptive strike to compensate. It doesn’t really matter what they are feeling – embarrassed, scared, hurt, ashamed, lost – the way they express those feelings often through a lens of anger. I believe that the reason we have nuclear war is because men have to protect their dicks.

    Women don’t have the problem of our privates being public. We are all tucked in, like a suitcase. I think that’s why women are generally less violent. Yet we do have this gaping open wound that is constantly leaking, which is why women often express their emotions through tears. We cry when we’re sad, when we’re happy, when we’re lost. We cry because much like our weeping vaginas, it’s hard to hold in emotions when there is a giant HOLE IN YOUR BODY.

    Then of course we have the pageantry of our periods to contend with. We can’t just wear a long skirt and allow our menses to flow freely. Nooooo. It would be frowned upon to walk around leaving behind you a red trail like a communist snail. Society wouldn’t allow that. We live in a democracy after all.

    As a woman it’s easy for me to identify with the hardships of the feminine experience. As I just did so lovingly for you. Yet it’s also crucial for me to concern myself with the male plight. If I don’t show empathy for the opposite gender, then I can’t expect it in return. In this current Post-Trump paradigm there is so much to divide us as our ideologies and dogmas cloud potential connection. In order to counteract this intentional ploy of the ruling lizard elite to tear communities apart so we are easier to control, I must put myself in the head of a man…’s penis.

    I think one of the hardest parts about being a man in the modern world is having to constantly abide by the creepy rules, even when you’re not creepy. Imagine being a dad with a daughter, and your little girl wants you to play with her and her little friend. Picture these two sweet cherubs innocently requesting, “Tickle us daddy! Chase us around and tickle us!!” As a man you can’t go around tickling other people’s kids! The police would be at your door in minutes. Even when you’re not a sex offender, there is so much that men have to do to ensure that they are not seen as one. It must be hard to have to force yourself to question, “Is my being affectionate going to be seen as being a creepy uncle” all the time. Yet at the same time, the creepy uncle is REAL! We all have one!!!

    There is a burden men carry around because of all the deplorable acts other men have committed. Women are socialized to mistrust men, and first assume they are a threat until proven otherwise. Women are guarded as a means to defend ourselves against potential danger, but the sad truth is that there are many men that we don’t have to protect ourselves from. I am sure it must be really painful to be assumed to be a raper or molester when you are a man who has no interest in raping or molesting.

    So what is the solution to this dilemma? For safety reasons it would be absurd to teach young girls not to be cautious, but the energy of being deemed dangerous when you’re not is psychologically brutal. Women genuinely fear men because of the awful behaviors of men, and as a consequence men react to this rejection with misogyny and sexism. This cultural mistrust between the genders is a feeding ground for division. The more we are steered away from intimacy and towards skepticism, the more fragmented we are, and the easier we are to manipulate.

    My suggestion is much like we need resumes and letters of recommendation for jobs; we also need them for our men. That way you can have men vetted by other women, and not have to live in a constant state of skepticism. For example, when you go on a first date with a guy, you can read his letter of recommendation from his last girlfriend before you drink the cocktail he just bought you. “Brad is really sweet and giving in the bedroom, but he doesn’t unload the dishwasher and leaves his socks on the living room floor.” Huh… looks like Brad is kind of a slob, but isn’t going to put roofies in my drink! Or “Jason will buy you diamonds and take you out to dinner, but he takes selflies in the mirror and will cheat on you.” No way… I can’t live with the mirror selfies Jason! You guys… there is SOOO much potential to heal the gender divide!

  • It’s Going to Hurt!

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

    We run from pain because we fear it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The tools and splinter

    splinter-blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    December 29, 2016 • change, emotions, Musings, problems • Views: 727

  • Change Your Loop, Change your Life!

    Do you ever wake up in the morning and think to yourself, “this again?” Don’t get me wrong, life is cool and all – but there is also this mundane aspect of existence that makes me wonder, what is the point? The day ahead of me is filled with so much repetition from the day before. I will wake up, go to the bathroom, drink coffee, go to the bathroom again, work, look in the mirror and contemplate my place in the world, go to the bathroom, then work some more. (You guys, I go to the bathroom a lot. Should I see a doctor?)

    We all have patterns to our days. If you were to track your self over the past couple of years, I’m sure your movements would create some sort of fractal of never ending repetition. Then something happens – you might move, get a new job, break up, get together, something… and that pattern is broken! But then a new configuration is created, and once again stuck in a paradigm of your own creation.

    Question: Are our human lives really that different from the robots of Westworld??! Another question: Do I watch too much TV?

    In Westworld the androids had their loops that they were stuck in, and the only way for them to get out was to have a shift of consciousness. We are JUST like that. The only way to change our loops is to have a moment that rocks our world so deeply, that we see everything slightly different. This will force us to live in a new way, because once you learn something, you can never unlearn it. Trust me… there is so much I wish I didn’t know about the pork industry, because hot dogs are delicious. But even though we escape one loop, that doesn’t mean we don’t enter into another. Maybe the key is not expecting to get out of our loops, but rather keeping evolving in our thinking so our loops end up looking more like spirals? So we don’t live our lives spinning in circles, or orbiting around the same problems, but rather moving up towards something new.

    But what does that mean to shift your consciousness? I don’t want to spurt annoying new age rhetoric. I would rather squirt solutions. (P.S If I die tomorrow; please put that on my gravestone).

    We are always going to have problems with our lives; the key is not having the SAME problems for years on end. Maybe shifting our consciousness means actually dealing with the problems in front of us, and getting a new set of problems? That seems doable right?

    Yet it’s scary to evolve because in order for that to happen, you have to put yourself in uncomfortable situations. The problem with that is that we Westerners LOVE being comfortable. We spend most of our time, money, and effort searching for comfort. Yet the irony is that we don’t remember the comfortable times of our lives, we remember the moments where we weren’t.

    I think that’s why I had a kid. Not because I like kids. The only kid I truly enjoy is the ones that remind me of me. I wanted to have a kid because I was curious about the challenge. When I got pregnant, my life felt flat, and I wasn’t sure where I was going with it. I wanted to get out of the loop I was in, because it had no real meaning to it. I was lost and there was something profound about the idea of pregnancy and birth – a right of passage I wanted to go through. Birth is one of the most cosmic acts a person can experience. You create a life inside your body, and then eject it out into the universe. It’s a spiritual activity, like yoga, meditation, talking about different ways to prepare bok choy, or eating a 90% cacao chocolate bar. But after that part was over, I was like, “holy shit, now there’s a human I have to take care of!”

    So then I entered into the loop of parenting, and I was relieved. I had a whole new set of problems that didn’t involve not “making it” in New York. It was so consuming, and my brain chemistry changed so all I cared about was my needy as hell baby. My baby became my life – especially because as a mother that thing was sucking off my fun bags all day. Yet there was something comforting about this phase of life because my world was so small. The only thing that mattered to me was keeping my baby alive, sleeping, and arranging my clothes so the barf wasn’t as noticeable. Then my infant became a toddler, and those things are still pretty high maintenance. Even though I had more time to myself, there was still a lot of work I had to do to socialize my kid not to be an asshole.

    But now that The Munch is 6, I’m kind of done parenting. At least until she starts doing drugs and blowing boys. There are some responsibilities I still have – like being her short order cook and carrying her crap around like a Sherpa – but I no longer have to be this warden of her behavior. She’s basically pretty cool. Her conditioning has mostly been implemented, so we don’t fight about much, nor are there tantrums or emotional conflicts. We’ve come to understand each other’s boundaries. She knows she can eat treats if she eats vegetables first, so we don’t have to have battles about her sugar addiction. She gets that her mom needs things to be compulsively clean and respects that, just as I know that it’s best not to interfere with her wardrobe or laundry and let her wear what she wants – which is the same thing every day. We’re in this sweet spot where she’s kind of like a roommate I have to sometimes insist takes a bath.

    I think a lot of people like the parenting loop, which is why they keep having kids. Caring about your children’s well being is a noble way to spend your days! You don’t have to question your value, because there is an indisputable worth of being a good parent. I really enjoyed that phase of life, because it was a loop that was filled with a lot of obvious love and appreciation from my kid. There was much The Munch taught me about the nature of humanity, and the psychological development of people. Also, her presence made me SUPER appreciative of my time in a way that having more freedom never would. I am sooo much more focused than before. I can seriously accomplish more in one hour, then I used to in an entire day when I had nothing but myself to think of.

    Yet I am more terrified now of getting pregnant than I was as a teenager, because now I know what it actually takes. For me, the loop of parenting was also driving me nutty. With this hyper focus my child had given me came with it a driving ambition that has taken over my psyche. Maybe creating a life made me a more creative person, so thanks for that kid, but now I’ve got some work to do! I really like my child, and I’m SUPER glad to know her – but I am ready to do without all this parenting!

    Now The Munch has her own life, her own friends, and doesn’t need me in the same way that she did. She’s good to go. I mean I can’t leave her alone with the oven on or anything, but I’m not worried about her feeling abandoned if I pursue my dreams. You guys… I am officially entering into a new loop! My world has expanded, and it’s a relief, but also terrifying. Hopefully soon I will have a whole new set of problems to complain about!!!

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    December 22, 2016 • 6 years old, ambitions, Musings, Parenting • Views: 403

  • Do People Really Change?

    I would not describe myself as an emotional person. I’m what you call even-tempered, non-reactionary, or dead inside. I rarely pick fights with people, and the only time you will see me angry is when you’re angry with me – so I mirror that “anger emotion” like a robot from Westworld to make it all stop.

    That isn’t to say I don’t feel feelings. I do. At least I think I do. But I mostly keep them to myself. I tend to internalize my emotions rather than externalize them. That’s not to imply they embarrass me, or I’m afraid someone will judge me for not being happy. Who is happy anyway? I don’t trust anyone who is happy all the time – unless they’re my ecstasy dealer. I will easily admit to my feelings and say that I’m depressed, sad, disappointed, hurt… but I’m not really going to ACT that way around other people. It’s more a descriptor of my energy rather than my behavior.

    I never thought of myself as repressed, but I have to admit the harsh reality that every 4 months my body completely breaks down. I will have crazy back spasms, break out in shingles, hurt myself sneezing – whatever. There will be about a 2- week window where my body will be in complete rebellion and I will have to spend the days healing, reflecting, and “nurturing” myself. BORING!

    My most recent experience was hurting my left butt. I know. Who hurts their left butt? But my left butt was sore all the time, and it made it really hard to move. I had a big dance performance coming up for my belly dance company, and was starting to freak the fuck out. We had been rehearsing and preparing for a YEAR! A year of work!! I really wanted to dance.

    I went to see my healer and she went to town on my butt, but to no avail. It was still gripping. Holding onto something – a real and literal pain in the ass. I went back the day of my performance and again the healer went hard on me until finally – BAM! It was over! She had released my ass!

    I was elated. I went to my studio to help set up, my heart filled with joy. I was so grateful my ass was better and I would be able to dance. Then, as I was sweeping the floor, my knee gave out.

    I WAS SWEEPING THE FLOOR mind you. Not doing a back flip. Just walking slowly pushing a broom.

    I could not accept that I was hurt. I tried to knock my knee back in place. Push my shinbone where I thought it needed to go. Massage the tendons. Loosen the ligaments. But it was not happening. A year of rehearsals, dedication, effort, and I couldn’t perform. My butt felt amazing though.

    I went back to see my healer and asked what she thought the emotional aspect of my pain was. I do believe that our bodies manifest emotional pain that our spirit isn’t processing, so I was curious what she thought was going on with me. My healer said she thought it had to do with childhood issues, the current stress I’m under, my over-critical inner dialogue, blah blah blah why aren’t I a robot from Westworld again?

    I went to my friend’s house and decided to pick a tarot card. I asked the tarot what was the message of my knee and the card I picked was… you guessed it… Childhood.

    Fine tarot. I get it. But what about childhood?! What does that mean? I could be anything!!!!?? Can’t you be a little more specific tarot!?

    Here is where shit gets weird. As I was lying there unable to walk, I check my email. My friend from high school, out of nowhere, sends me pictures of a letter I wrote to her when I was 17.

    As you would have it, the secrets of my pain and the message of me knee were written out for me in plain English… just 20 years ago.

    (FYI The context of the time of this letter was that I was fighting with my parents and staying at my grandmother’s house).

    Here are some excerpts.

    letter-page-1

    “I just finished the ‘Great Gatsby’ and it greatly depressed me. I mean here is a guy whom everyone is using for something, and no one completely understands him. And it’s sad because that’s all he truly wanted, and he never got it.”

    First of all… nice usage of the word “whom” 17-year old Toni. Second of all, I find it both hilarious and tragic that the “Great Gatsby” depressed me. How bourgeoisie! It’s clear that I identified with him, and also felt used and misunderstood. Even though I probably wouldn’t qualify these feelings as my current problems – I also relate to them in a deep way.

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    “I feel like everyone wants something from us and we never really get anything in return. I mean, it seems all guys really want from us is sex (however that’s all we want too) but still, wouldn’t it be nice to have someone love you even if you didn’t have a hole they could empty themselves into?”

    Wow… okay Teen-Toni. That’s kind of a bleak view, but also one I don’t totally disagree with. I think for many women, we question the motivations of men. Do you they really like me as a friend/ co-worker? Or are they waiting for me to get drunk enough to fuck them one day? But at the same time… “THAT’S ALL WE WANT TOO!” Touché Teen-Toni… tou-motherfucking-ché.

    The male-female dynamic (for heterosexuals) is often fraught with confused sexual emotions. It is hard to cultivate dynamics that are tainted with an underpinning of desire. It’s a challenging context of which to find purity of intention. Yet even if women feel they are also using men for sex, there is something still inherently shitty about feeling used for sex when you’re a woman. Probably because anatomically speaking as a woman you have a hole in your body and are inviting someone else inside. That’s a vulnerable place to be. I mean, how many people would you put your finger in their mouth? Probably a lot. You wouldn’t even have to think too much about it. But how many people would you let but THEIR finger in YOUR mouth? NOT AS MANY!! It would take wayyy more trust no? Hence the sexual double standards we all struggle with.

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    “The more I think about it the more I know that all I really want is for someone to understand me and wants me to be happy. That’s kind of why I left home for a while because I figured if I wanted that, I should figure out what it is I want myself.”

    Okay… again, I wouldn’t say I felt this way out loud, but I also deep down totally get it. Probably why my life’s work is creating content in a desperate attempt to express myself and be understood. And “I should figure out what it is I want myself” – ummmm why didn’t I have a teen self-help advice column??

    letter-page-3

    “Sometimes I feel there are too many people in my life, and sometimes I feel there are not enough. But through it all, I always seem to feel alone.”

    Okay, these are some amazing lyrics for an angsty 90’s rock ballade, and holy shit I was deep. I totally agree with you Teen-Toni!!! Who doesn’t feel this way!!?

    “I crave to be with someone, although I don’t know who it is. I can’t really deal with my parents anymore because I think they are having problems with each other. At this point I don’t really care because I can’t relate to either of them because they can’t relate to me.”

    Oooooo snap! I was pissed!!! But I find it interesting that I couldn’t relate to them, because I felt they couldn’t relate to me. Being a teenager is a such an isolating time, and it feels as if parents are fundamentally unable to get you. Is that because of the generational divide? Or is there an inevitable cultural clash that comes with the search to find one’s own identity? Does any teen feel like their parents relate to them?

    “Sometimes I feel like I am being selfish, and other times I don’t. I can’t tell anymore.”

    Totally Teen-Toni. Still can’t.

    “I am not in love with any boy anymore and I don’t know what to think about that either because it will probably change. My grandmother says pimply teenage boys are a waste of time and all they want to do is empty themselves inside of you…”

    Hmmmm I guess I was kind of a romantic… but my CATHOLIC GRANDMOTHER was none too impressed by my sexing up teen boys. Maybe she had some influence on my cynicism…. Both then and now!!!

    letter-page-4

    “It is kind of a harsh outlook, but it seems pretty accurate. Every where you go people want something from you, and I know there is no avoiding that.”

    Damn Teen-Toni… that is so fatalistic, and yet… yes. I hear you. I grapple with the concept of unconditional love. I want to believe in it, but it feels that much like communism, it’s impossible in practice.

    After reading all this – it’s kind of shocking how little I’ve changed in 20 years.

    I’m also so taken aback with how deeply I seemed to have felt my feelings. They were so raw then. Even though I essentially feel the same ways as Teen-Toni, for Adult-Toni these feelings are no longer on the surface. I’ve come to accept so much of this as part of life, or at least part of my life. I don’t let it get to me anymore – at least not on a conscious level. It’s as if at 17 I was walking around like a giant open wound, and now, almost 37, I’m just a big scab.

    So get this!

    I went home that night, still unable to walk because my knee was so enflamed. Sad and frustrated, I sat down at the kitchen table while the Munch had her dinner. Then, out of nowhere, The Munch grabs a pad of paper and asks me to write down all that I was feeling. I complied, and then she asked me to write down all my needs.

    CAN YOU FUCKING BELIEVE THAT??

    She then drew pictures representing my feelings and my needs and gave it to me to remember.

    Now that is some profound ass shit. What an amazing exorcise to do when trying to heal. DON’T YOU THINK YOU SHOULD DO THAT YOURSELF RIGHT GODDAMN NOW!? I don’t know where The Munch came up with that … but the next day I could walk again.

    I can’t wait to read what kind of letters that kid will be writing to her friends bitching about me when she’s 17.

    Below is the picture Munch drew for me. Notice the “emotional ambulance” between our names. Then you see the faces of my feelings… frustrated, anxious, and later loved (with my nose looking surprisingly like a set of cock and balls). Then below the faces are my needs, which seemingly include meds, a tower of penises surrounding a bong, more meds, a happy heart, and back to the meds.

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    December 15, 2016 • Family Drama, Health, Mommyhood, Musings, Old School Stories • Views: 710

  • Can’t I Get Paid To Just Be Me?

    The first trauma we experience as humans is birth. At one minute you’re floating in a warm pink gelatinous ecosystem, and the next you’re squeezed mercilessly by the only home you’ve ever know, ejected into a cold world full of unknown dangers, then slapped on the ass by some stranger. No wonder why the first thing babies due fresh from the puss is cry.

    The shock of birth is so harrowing that our minds file it under, “never remember.” When The Munch started talking at one year old I asked her, “do you remember what it was like to be inside my tummy?” and this was her answer: “Yes, it was more gentle.” I then asked her, “Do you remember what it was like to be born?” and she ran out of the room screaming. TRUE STORY!!!

    The second great trauma of our lives is the transition into adulthood. That moment where you realize that you are fully responsible for your own wellbeing, no one is going to save you, and you have to take care of yourself. No longer can you look for a grownup to protect you, because you are the grownup – one that’s expected to make money, own property, and commodify your identity around a “career.”

    The ideal is to find a job that feeds your soul, aligns with your values, and makes you feel like you have some sort of meaning to your life. Yet when I think about what my struggle has been, I have to admit it’s been getting over the harsh realization that no one is going to pay me for just being me.

    It was probably insane for me to ever assume that, and it wasn’t a conscious expectation. It was more this underlying current that powered my thinking. Retrospectively I can see how absurd that desire was. If you were to ask a little kid today, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” they have the social awareness to answer you with a phrase that makes sense. They conceptualize a character they plan to fit into. A policeman… a fireman… an astronaut… a vampire. They intuitively know is never okay to say, “I’m just gonna be me when I grow up.”

    But aren’t I delightful???? Isn’t being me enough for the world?

    NO! It’s not!! Not even close!!

    Most of my 20’s I was trying to squeeze myself into mold that I thought “success” looked like. I wanted to save the world from a catastrophic future filled with genetically modified nightmares, and my vision was to start a socially responsible businesses that would re-imagine industry. Those were some lofty ambitions for a girl who spent most nights ripping bong hits… but I worked hard!! Yet go figure – I guess investors usually want people with “experience,” and have a “history of success” that don’t eat liquid acid on a random Tuesday afternoon. WHATEVER!

    Just because I believe I can do something doesn’t mean anyone else does. I have to PROVE I am capable, and part of that process is fraught with strategy, compromise, and more strategy. I have to think about how I’m being perceived AND how to create financial value from my creations. Of course I can spend my time creating for the sake of creating, but unless I can eat a dick joke, I have to translate my efforts into dollars.

    But you guys, don’t you ever feel oppressed by the pressures of modern society? Don’t you think we would all be happier if we switched to a barter economy and didn’t have to worry our place in the capitalist system? Is money really what we should be spending our precious time on this earth acquiring? Don’t you think the mass production of products is raping our souls and the planet? Yeah the US military is the number one contributor of global warming, but there is still a vast amount of pollution caused by the manufacturing of mostly pointless goods. What if we all collectively decided that we have enough stuff? We could just trade shit and free ourselves from the psychological tax of dollars and cents.

    The economic burden that consumes us is supported by the marketing machine that makes us feel that we are less than. The more insecure we feel the more we assume that buying things will make us feel complete. Material objects end up becoming what we strive for rather than experience, human connection, and memories. There is this new age liberal rhetoric keeps suggested if we would only come together, then we wouldn’t be at the mercy of corporations and government. But how can we come together when everyone is fighting on Facebook all the time? What if social media was invented not to unite us, but to destroy us with our own bullshit closed minded opinions??!!

    Maybe it’s the impending doom of WW3, or maybe I’m just bitter because I don’t make money with my vagina puppet play? Just kidding… it’s not a play – BUT AN IMAX FILM I AM DEVELOPING FOR THE MASSES!

    You guys… these vagina puppets don’t just make themselves you know…

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    October 27, 2016 • Musings • Views: 662