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Family Drama
Category

  • Fuck your Hippy Bullshit

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

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

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

    She looked at me with annoyed eyes.

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

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

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

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

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

    But I couldn’t stop weeping.

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

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

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

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

    Not interested in my bullshit

    Getting “fresh air” from under the blanket

  • The Universe Hates Me

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

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

    SO DO I!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    THEN…

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

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

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

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

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

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

    This time I fucking screamed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Munch: Mama there is something disgusting in my playroom.

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

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

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

  • Ruining Childhood With The Truth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • I Can’t Play With You!!

    It’s really hard to play with my kid. My brain has been corrupted by adulthood. I no longer have an imagination that can travel off to distant lands where vampire kitties can fly. I don’t know how to lose myself in a fantasy world because the so-called real world in front of me is so goddamn consuming. All my imagination has transmuted into anxiety about the end of humanity and trying desperately to envision a future where I no longer torture myself with endless craving. HAVE I MADE IT YET?

    Playing with The Munch is challenging. As she’s busy making up a world where bunnies pick daffodils made of sugar, I’m instead obsessing about how Mitch McConnell is to blame for the Trump presidency. I can’t lose myself in the moment, and keep trying to make the chipmunks talk about universal health care.

    It’s my own fault though. When you have an only child, you end up having to play with them more than if you had more kids. In many ways having one kid is MUCH easier as a parent. I have more freedom. It’s easier to find childcare. If I asked you to watch my one kid for the afternoon you’d most likely say yes. But if I asked you to watch my 3 kids for ten minutes you would probably lie to get out of it right? I think there is a major misconception that having more kids doesn’t make that much of a difference because you already have one – so why not add a few more? NOPE WRONG! The difference between having one kid and two is almost as profound as having zero kids and one. The amount of need you deal with is added exponentially with each kid. The equation is something like one child squared to the 10th power.

    Yet when you have a bigger family, the kids are more of a pack. They play together leaving you more free time to yourself to clean up after them. I don’t have that. Lucky for me The Munch has many friends and plenty of play dates, but there are inevitable moments where she looks to me to be the one to act out scene 7 of the mermaids that are astronauts’ saga.

    But you guys…. I think I have the answer to satisfy my inability to free my mind from the burden of hyper awareness about the destruction of world, and my daughter’s insistence on playing with me… a solution besides getting really high I mean.

    We now play political games.

    These games have been a profound journey because I get to learn what my 6-year old thinks about political policy. It is both equally awe inspiring and depressing.

    The Munch: Okay so Ariel the mermaid is a princess, so that means she’s royalty.
    Toni: What does it mean to be royalty?
    The Munch: It means you have to be kind and gentle and you have to like solving problems. Oh, and you have to love everybody.
    Toni: How do you become royal?
    The Munch: Well Ariel’s dad was royal and his dad was royal and his dad was royal and his dad was royal…
    Toni: Who was the first royal person though? Why did they need royalty.
    The Munch: Because everything was so confusing and the mermaids wanted someone to help create solutions to problems.
    Toni: I see. In the human world royalty is kind of different – so I like what the mermaids are doing.
    The Munch: What do the human royals care about?
    Toni: Mostly power, that’s why the humans have so many wars.
    The Munch: The mermaids have wars too. But they are silly wars.
    Toni: What’s a silly war?
    The Munch: Well, there are no weapons because they are too dangerous. They don’t want to hurt the other animals or fish in the ocean with war and weapons. So it’s a splash tail war. They just splash each other with their tails on the top of he water… like this.
    Toni: That makes a lot of sense.
    The Munch: So how were the first people made?
    Toni: How do you think the first people were made.
    The Munch: Ummm I think there was a ghost lady that has always been here – she’s never been born or anything. And that ghost lady created all the people and the earth and the planet and the stars and the mermaids.
    Toni: You’re probably right.

    This is the set up for tonight’s game. It’s called “Hey congress, rape is not a pre-existing condition.”

  • 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

  • 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.

    letter-page-2

    “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.

    letter-page-2-copy

    “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.

    toni-feelings

    December 15, 2016 • Family Drama, Health, Mommyhood, Musings, Old School Stories • Views: 1000

  • Raising a Little Conformist

    When you have a baby, and that baby cries, it’s not trying to manipulate you. An infant cries because it has a genuine need, and that’s its only mode of communication. The first year of parenting is simple in that way. Your baby cries, so you address their relatively basic problems. (I’m hungry, I’m tired, I have to fart, I have a shit in my pants). But as soon as your kid becomes a toddler and understands that it’s screaming can make you do things you don’t want to do – but will do anyway just to shut them up – you bet your sweet ass that kid is going to exploit the shit out of your weaknesses.

    Once your child is no longer a baby, you have to start considering a discipline strategy, and how you are going to condition them. You’re not just raising a kid, but a future adult you’re going to have to deal with for the rest of your life. There is a major shift of consciousness that has to place for the parent making this transition. Figuring out how and when to say “no” to your child is more complex than you’d think. You don’t want to give into all your kid’s demands because then your kid will be an asshole when they grown up. But when you push back and deny your kid of what they want… they turn into a serious fucking asshole right in front of your goddamn face.

    Modern parents are all products of the baby boomer generation and I love you guys, but you were kind of neglectful parents in a lot of ways. LOVELY people those baby boomers… but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person in my 30’s who was raised by a Television. Probably why the Bill Cosby story was such a hard roofie-cocktail to swallow – it was like finding out your Dad was a rapist. HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO US DADDY!!!!

    So a lot of us who are parenting now are doing so in direct reaction to feeling slightly abandoned as children. Yet with every pendulum swing, a lot of times things go wayyy too far in the other direction. As children we may have been latchkey kids, but we also had independence, which was crucial. Today’s kids can hardly even pick their noses without parental supervision. We’re so afraid that our kids won’t feel cared for, that we don’t give them any space to figure out the world on their own.

    The same thing goes for discipline. There has been a major shift of thinking regarding how to deal with a kid’s emotional outbursts. Spanking is now ONLY appropriate between two consenting adults in the bedroom. Most of us can agree that yelling at a child is ineffective and cruel. Ignoring your kid only makes them create more havoc to get your attention. Yet rationalizing with a young child is bit like talking to Donald Trump. There are moments when they speak complete sentences and seem to understand you, but then they just say random words and make funny faces.

    In my personal parenting journey I have been working with two concepts. One idea is that I want The Munch to know she is allowed to have emotions, and doesn’t have to not feel the pressure to “always be happy” or “suck it up.” I am a new age hippy who drinks water filtered by moon beams, so of course I my want my kid to be connected to her emotional self and explore the entirety of her emotional spectrum. At no point do I want to be a force that enforces emotional repression. But… I also don’t want to create a goddamn monster that allows herself to express every feeling like an emotional terrorist!!!

    So my strategy has been trying to find a balance between these extremes. When she is upset I ask if there is a solution to her problem. If she is too pissed to think of solutions I suggest she go into her room where she can feel all she wants, but I don’t have to be a witness to her outburst. Then when she is ready to talk, we can talk about solutions and move forward with our lives.

    It took time to get this to work, but now that she is 6, we are in a pretty good place. Not just because of my parenting of course, it’s not like I’m some kid whisperer. Her personality was easy to work with because The Munch’s natural disposition is pretty mellow. She has her moments of expected child rage, but her core essence isn’t very confrontational. She is mostly a “well behaved” kid, and when she is feeling really upset and doesn’t want to be reasonable, she goes into her room and then comes out when she is ready to discuss things more rationally.

    All great right??

    NOT SO SURE!!!

    This is the NEW problem that I’m seeing. The Munch is REALLY RESPECTFUL OF AUTHORITY!

    The Munch listens to her teachers at school, and takes instruction very seriously. When she recently had to deal with the hospital and all her surgery she did everything the doctor said, and was very compliant. The doctor said on multiple occasions “what a good girl she is.” The Munch went to the dentist for the first time yesterday and came home wanting to brush her teeth 3 times a day and floss every morning and night. She listened to her dentist because she is a “good little girl” who does what she is told.

    HOLY SHIT I HAVE CREATED A MONSTER!!!

    Have I raised a little conformist!!!??

    As a parent yes I want my daughter to listen to me… but as a woman I want my daughter to LISTEN TO NO ONE!!!!!!!!!

    As a parent it is really amazing that she is so easy tempered, empathetic, thoughtful, nice, caring, but as a feminist I want her TO SHAKE SHIT THE FUCK UP AND CHALLENGE ALL STEROTYPES AND NEVER MAKE IT EASY FOR MEN TO TAKE ADVTAGE OF HER!

    As a parent it is so nice that my kid takes direction well, shows adults respect, isn’t a problem at school, is easy to teach… but as a wannabe revolutionary… FUCK AUTHORITY! FUCK THE POLICE! FUCK THE SYSTEM!!! FUCK GOVERNMENT!!

    Do you see my problem!!

    So here is my plan for the next 6 years… slowly undo every thing I have done and recondition her. This way by the time she is 12, she will be a fucking nightmare – just in time for her teen years. She can rebel against everything and everyone, have ton of fun, and become a total bad ass. Then from 18-24 we find the balance between the two.

    conformist-blog

    October 5, 2016 • Disciplining, Education, Family Drama, Mommyhood, Parenting • Views: 1114

  • When You Have Nothing To Give But Forgiveness

    The thing about family that is both comforting and challenging is that much like a herpes infection, they never go away. They’re not always there, but when they show up, chances are there will be some soreness. Yet most of us value family and want to maintain that connection, despite the inflammation they may cause.

    Now that the matriarch of my family has died, I wonder what will be the link that binds us together. My grandmother was the last of her generation, and we no longer have a point at the top of the triangle of our family tree. It’s all just branches scattering off into different parts of the world. My grandmother’s womb was the origin zenith which sprouted these many beings, and now we have to find different motives to share time and space.

    I have an idealistic vision when it comes to family. I believe in the relevance that our DNA binds us through quantum ties, and that we are uniquely connected through our chemical make up. Knowing my family ultimately means knowing myself. We were cut from the same physical cloth, even though we are not all the same psychological tribe of people. We all process the world very differently, and yet we all share a similar frame of reference. Some of us rebelled against it, some of us dove into it, but there is a culture that prevails.

    But how do families stay together? How do you keep the same people in your life for the entirety of it? By seeing them less? Or seeming them more?

    I crave the life long relationships. When I seek out relationships, I tend to do so with a fervor that says “guess what, we are in this together – FOREVER!” The friends I make, I make hard. I don’t have casual acquaintances. If you are going get to know me, we are going to go in deep. Unless you do something really brutal to me, like rape my cat in front of my child, chances are I will be committed to you for life. I can’t think of one person who I’ve loved who I’m not still there for.

    I think my commitment to family and friends stems from my best friend dying when we were 20. It was such a crucial and painful moment in my life, and it shaped my worldview completely. It is through that experience I came to see how precious human life is. People aren’t disposable. Even when they suck super hard… and are really annoying and shitty… and you want to shake them like British nanny they are being suck a prick, I will tolerate it and try to work through the bullshit.

    Through our family (and the friends that become family) we find true intimacy. The better you get to know someone; the more comfortable you are around them. The more another person knows you, the greater the opportunity for you to know yourself. The less we posture and hide our vulnerabilities, the more we can delve into the chasm of our own psyches. The value of commitment is having a witness to your personal growth and evolution, but that can only truly take place when you allow that person fully into your heart.

    Yet the irony of my wanting this intertwining of spirits is that the opposite is also true. The more someone knows you, the more they can emotionally eviscerate you. The more capable they are of tearing apart your weaknesses and slapping you in the face with them. The more deeply insulting it is when they misunderstand you. The more time for resentment, bitterness, disappointment to build up like plaque, and no matter how hard we try to brush it off, it’s hard to let go of the pain people cause.

    Seriously, people can be such selfish assholes.

    We are all emotionally damaged. We all have our moments of immaturity. We are all dealing with the primal wounds of childhood and reenacting them in destructive ways. The only way to work through the emotionally complexity of how imperfect we are as humans is through the practice of forgiveness.

    Every goddamn day we have to forgive. We have to truly move on from the past, and recognize that everyone is always growing. We have to let go of the mistakes. We have to forgive people fully and leave room for them to change. We have to know that they are moving towards being the best versions of themselves, and the road to get their will be messy.

    I will leave you with a story where I had to ask forgiveness. I horrible story, that is made from the stuff of nightmares.

    The Munch had her little friend sleep over and as kids tend to do, she brought a LOT of stuff. Bags of toys, pajamas, sleeping bags, nighttime equipment etc… The kid needed a Sherpa for all her gear.

    Munch’s friend had forgotten one of her backpacks at my house, so I left it by the door of my porch so I would remember to give it back. I noticed a small plastic bag also near the door, so I figured it belonged to Munch’s friend. Over the next few days I would move the backpack around to clean, and also move the small plastic bag – assuming I was doing a good thing. When it came time to finally return the backpack, I took the small plastic bag, and stuffed it into the backpack so the precious contents wouldn’t get lost.

    I was trying to be a good mom right!?

    Ten days later I received this text.

    “So I unpacked the backpack left at your house, and inside was a plastic Wal-Mart bag with two tissues and two very dead mice dried up inside. Do you have any idea how they got in there?”

    So basically this mom thought I was sending her kid home with some sort of demonic message. Like I was The Godfather, or Glenn Close in “Fatal Attraction.” Maybe she thought her kid was part of a satanic ritual and this was my initiation!

    I had to call her up and explain that I didn’t purposefully send her daughter home with carrion in her bag!!!!!!! I later realized my friend who had been visiting was kind enough to pick up the dead mice killed by my cat, but didn’t know where to put them – so she left them by the door thinking she would discuss with me later… but then forgot. I then gingerly moved the carcasses around for days, thinking I was doing the right thing…

    BUT I WAS WRONG – SO VERY WRONG.

    The mom forgave me though, because luckily our daughters are friends for life so she had no choice.

    Here is my face in a toilet…

    toni face in toilet

    August 11, 2016 • Family Drama, Musings, Relationships • Views: 942

  • In Your Mother’s Arms

    The first home you ever had was inside your mother. Of course, she eventually evicted you, but her uterus was your apartment – complete with psychedelic posters and tapestries.

    After you were birthed into to this cold dark world, her arms then became your home (assuming your mom stayed in your life). It was there that you felt safest. As a child we run into our mother’s arms for comfort, we collapse inside her hug for security. To experience this kind of embrace with your child is profound. It makes up for all the complexity of pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, and the unique pressure women face of living up to the role as “MOTHER.” That moment when your kid melts into for solace is truly priceless.

    Yet eventually your child gets to know you more, and realizes how you damaged them in one way or another. Then the arms of the mother are no longer their salvation. There is this thing between you – the mistakes, arguments, resentment, and annoyance that your Mom is always yelling at you about using the last of the toilet paper. The purity you once felt for your mom eventually gets clouded. She is not the goddess you once perceived her to be that was the answer to all your problems, but a flawed person who is doing her best… most of the time.

    As a child you want your mom to be a function of you. You assume that she was born onto this planet solely to be there for you. But as an adult understanding motherhood I have to admit that even though The Munch is a priority – she’s not my ONLY priority. Sometimes other things are more important than her. Like wanting to dance, or be with my friends, or work, or be creative, or eating the last cookie I know she was saving.

    The relationship we have to the MOTHER is as much personal as much as it is societal. There is an image of THE MOTHER that we are all conditioned to expect from media/stories. We have a tendency to compare our mothers to the narratives we are given. When I was a kid, all I wanted was a suburban stay at home mom. They kind who knitted, did crafts, and baked cupcakes. Instead, the mother I got was ambitious, anti-conventional, and would threaten to pick me up at school wearing her Magnum Condom T-shirt.

    Even though my mom wasn’t my ideal, as a grown up I very much like her as a human. She is way more fun than the Joan Cleaver of my childhood fantasies.

    Last night my mom came to New Hampshire because her mom has been really sick. There was a scare, and we all thought that this could be the end… but as soon as my grandmother heard everyone was coming, she perked right up and went downstairs to have a roast beef sandwich. My mom and I got into bed with my grandmother that night to keep her company as she slept.

    So there we were, 3 generations of mothers all entangled in each other’s arms as my mom and whispered to each other about mothering while my grandmother snored.

    My Mom: I know I wasn’t the mother that you wanted, but I was exactly the mother that I wanted!

    Toni: Well even though there were these ways you parented that felt traumatizing in the moment, I also think those very same things I wished were different made me a stronger person. I felt abandoned as a kid because you gave me so much independence, but now I’m a really emotionally independent person – and I like that about myself. Even though I may have wished that I were coddled more, I am glad I wasn’t.

    We all tend to parent in reaction to our parenting. We become the parents we wish we had rather than the parent our kid necessarily wants.

    There are a lot of similarities in the way I parent Munch and the way I was parented by my mom, and there is a lot I do that’s in direct reaction against the way I was parented. I have to constantly remind myself that Munch is not my inner child wanting to be healed, but her own person. I have to constantly observe and adjust my approach to her, and not get lost in trying to re-imagine my past.

    I will never the exact parent Munch wants me to be, but I can at least be open to her feedback. I want to build the kind of trust where she always feels at home in my arms, and comforted by my embrace. That way I can be sure that when I am super old she will jump into my bed with her daughter and talk about me behind my back while I sleep.

    toni munch painting

    May 19, 2016 • Family Drama, Mommyhood, Parenting, Relationships • Views: 1048