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Talking and Not Talking
Category

  • Sea Glass Insomnia and Obliterating Borders

    There is nothing quite like crawling into bed, closing your tired eyes, allowing your breath to deepen, and then just as you’re about to drift off into a sweet slumber snuggled inside the encompassing embrace of Morpheus… you instead start thinking about everything you’ve ever regretted about your life coupled with enervating anxiety about your future. I love when that happens!!! As a life-long insomniac this is often my process in going to sleep, and it’s EXACTLY as fun as it sounds. Something about trying to lose consciousness makes me instead consciously obsess about all that’s wrong with me which then transmutes to all that’s wrong with the world. So relaxing!

    I just got back from vacation, and during that time I was sharing a room with The Munch. Her method for settling down into slumber was to toss and turn in bed as if she were training for a breakdancing marathon. Go figure, but it’s really hard to sleep when someone next to you is engaged in a head-spin. The sounds of sheets rustling against her flailing body eroded my psyche and disturbed any chance I had in settling my soul. With every grand gesture she made, I fell further into the abyss of my own self-loathing. I began stressing about my career and overall lack of financial success. I then started feeling inadequate for all my political impotency. This lead to my being consumed by a deep sensation of dread for everything that was to come in not only my life, but in the future of humanity as well. Stories of the horrific news swirled through my synapses. It was a Kafkaesque nightmare of my own making, and my daughter’s thrashing punctuated my every concern as if she were mocking my anguish with rustling fabric.

    Toni: Munch, I’m having a really hard time trying to fall asleep and it doesn’t help with all that wiggling you’re doing! It’s actually really loud. Can you stop moving around so much?
    Munch: I just can’t stop thinking about sea glass?
    Toni: What?
    Munch: I just keep imagining giant pieces of sea glass. In my imagination, I go to pick up a piece of sea glass and just the small corner is poking out, but when I pull it, I realize it’s actually a GIANT piece of sea glass. I just can’t stop imagining that. That’s why I’m wiggling.

    AHHHH TO BE A CHILD!!!!

    The beauty of her thoughts compared to mine.

    Sigh.

    As an adult it’s impossible for me not to envy the purity of a child’s imagination. A brain that hasn’t been burdened by social programming and conditioning… YET. This still malleable mind of the innocent that thinks beyond the confines of civilization. I was inspired by The Munch’s mental meandering about sea glass and equally lost in self-pity. To live in my mind feels like being trapped in Dostoevsky novel while also inside a Russian prison. Yet to live in The Munch’s mind is like experiencing a perpetual episode of Pee Wee’s Playhouse on acid. Her perception of existence feels unattainable for me to achieve because the corruption of culture has infiltrated my sense of reality. I can’t fathom the relief of a mind that focuses so deeply on the joy of finding GIANT pieces of sea glass that it kept me up at night.

    Yet this lack of imagination, of creativity, of seeing how the world could be different, is exactly why we are watching the demise of this country. As annoying as it is to have my kid keep me up at night, at least my kid is fucking with me and not being ripped from my arms by the US government!

    If you have my mental sensibility, chances are the world depresses the fuck out of you. The news overwhelms you. You fear for the future of not only your own life, but what is going to happen to mankind and the animals we are forcing into extinction. Sure, the planet will continue, yet I can’t help but want life to as well. Call me a romantic, but I like life. I think it’s nifty. It would be a real bummer if human beings annihilated it with their selfish greed. I don’t think this is the way things have to be. I think we are stuck in our programming and need a major reboot of how we configure everything. We need a lot more imagination when it comes to solving our political troubles. For example, the solution to this so-called immigration “problem” is not baby prisons. Let’s actually re-imagine how we structure society and get rid of borders.

    I don’t understand why this is such an outlandish proposition. We already live in a global society. Our media is global. Our communication is global. Our trade is global. Why are we holding onto borders? What do they accomplish? Having borders means we have war. Having borders means we have EVIL anti-immigration tactics. Having borders means we have nationalism that promotes racist ideologies. What do borders accomplish that are good for humanity as a whole? Borders don’t even reflect the truth of how we interact. Borders are a colonialist structure that benefits those in power. Borders are a way to perpetuate capitalist corruption. Borders serve zero purpose to the suffering, and clearly only have value for those in power. Why can’t we instead develop a system that supports and admits our interconnectedness? What are we holding onto by maintaining this antiquated arrangement?

    I want to see a political platform that is thinking on these levels. That wants to truly eradicate the infrastructure that’s designed for the rich to oppress the poor. Only then will I have a night where I can maybe think about sea glass instead of traumatized children.

    To be fair munch is right, sea glass is pretty epic.

  • I Just Feel Like Being Upset

    I have no heart.

    Well according to the zodiac I have no heart. I am a heartless Capricorn.

    Yet anyone that knows me know this isn’t true. My friends would say that unlike the Tin Man, I do in fact have a beating ball of tissue lodged in my chest, and it’s actually a pronounced part of my personality. This impression I make on others is most likely because of my Pisces rising, where as you can see, my skin is crawling with hearts like some venereal disease gone awry, infesting my body with pulsing crimson organs oozing with emotion. Exhausting!

    As you can see by the below note, written when I was 17, I have a deep compassion and love for my friends. I care profoundly about their well-being and the important things in life, such as what they are going to wear, if they are hungry, and of course, how soft their lips are. Please also notice how I signed off this note… not with as you may assume a pot of steaming spaghetti, but rather a bowl of burning weed.

    SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE!

    My emotional self is much more tied to the needs and feelings of others than to my own. My personal needs and feelings are a bit of a mystery to me, on the back burner of my consciousness, lodged in folds of my temporal lobe, twisted by my brain’s pleats and creases. As such I’m not the most externally emotional person. I can trace this back to my socialization, conditioning, and programming done within my familial structure, drawing a picture of my identity that has become the current shape of “adult Toni.” Yet despite why I am the way I am, there is also an equal truth that I know no other way. Regardless of whatever personal self-reflection I engage in, or how I deconstruct my psychic constructing out of colored construction paper, this is still who I am, and there for a way of being I am passing on to my child.

    The Munch, who is almost 8, hardly ever cries. Like her mother, months and months will go by without a single salty tear. She rarely has emotional outburst and is mostly an even-tempered child who’s easy to get along with. She is quick to prioritize the needs and wants of others, which is a trait I both respect and fear. I think it’s necessary to be empathetic, but that can also leave you vulnerable and lacking boundaries. Yet I am the one socializing her and have to accept that it’s my doing of creating a mini version of myself to look into.

    Yet every so often The Munch will be excessively tired, burnt out, hungry, whatever, and she will throw a fucking fit. There are many ways I could handle her intense display of feeling, and the way I do is most often through calm rational conversation which as you can see above, is probably because I have no heart. But her emotional displays are insightful lessons for me about the nature of humanity, which I guess because of my android temperament I often forget I am apart of! Even though I bury my feelings deep in my colon, they are still creating a mountain of shit inside of me that I can’t deny!

    The Munch: Wahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!
    Toni: Munch, what is the problem?
    The Munch: Well, I didn’t want Jennifer to wear my clothes!
    Toni: But hers got wet when you were playing in the rain. Do you want your friend to wear wet clothes?
    The Munch: No. But I didn’t want her to wear my favorite shirt!
    Toni: Munch, you picked out the shirt, why didn’t you just give her a different shirt?
    The Munch: Well, because it’s all my fault that she fell in the rain in the first place. I was the one who said that we should jump rope, and if we never jumped rope, she never would have fell.
    Toni: So, you feel guilty your friend fell?
    The Munch: Yes!
    Toni: Do you think your friend is blaming you for falling?
    The Munch: No!
    Toni: So, is there really a problem right now?
    The Munch: I DON’T KNOW!
    Toni: Do you think that maybe you’re upset because you were gone for a few days staying with your grandmother and when you stay with other people you feel like you have to act with your best behavior? So now that your home with mom, you are tired of acting with your best behavior?
    The Munch: Yes.
    Toni: Sometimes acting with your best behavior is really exhausting. I know that when I visit someone I really try to be a thoughtful guest, and then when I get home, I can feel cranky. So, if you were working hard being a good guest at Grandmas, now that you’re home it’s easier to have a meltdown.
    The Munch: Yes! It’s hard to always be on my best behavior.
    Toni: So, do you think you’re really upset about the clothes or feeling guilty about your friend falling?
    The Munch: No.
    Toni: So, what are you really upset about?
    The Munch: Sometimes I just feel like being upset!!!!!
    Toni: That’s okay. Sometimes I just feel like being upset too. But it’s important to realize that. Don’t get caught up in the details, and just let yourself feel upset. In order to know happiness, we have to know sadness. So why don’t you let yourself feel upset until you don’t feel like being upset anymore.

    SOMETIMES I JUST FEEL LIKE BEING UPSET!

    That’s just it isn’t it!!

    We need to remind ourselves of this constantly. Unless something HORRIBLE is happening to you at the moment, such as being consumed alive by flesh eating parasites, usually our sadness and pain is about our perspective. It’s never about what’s in front of you, but rather your emotional disposition. Sometimes you just FEEL like being upset, and you can cherry pick from a variety of problems in your life to justify that feeling. For example, I get upset because I am a financial failure and I feel like I work desperately for goals I will never achieve, and sometimes I FEEL like being upset about that, and sometimes I don’t. It’s always there, yet I don’t always direct my attention in that… uhhh… direction.

    I also have a cluster of mosquito bites on my ass at the moment and I go back and forth about my feelings about those. At the moment I feel like being upset enough to scratch them until they bleed, but an hour ago I was leaving them alone. What’s with that?

    Maybe we should put less meaning to WHAT we are upset about and embrace the ebb and flow of life. Sad feelings are inevitable. What you are sad about isn’t something to avoid, but rather a little warning sign on your road through life. You are going to pass through sad corners on the highway of your existence and when you look out the window whatever your attention turns to is guide post to address that part of your existence.

    “Here I am, driving through the interstate of my reality and whoops, I’m heading into a sad section of the ride. Okay, well what’s the scenery here? Oh, there is some self-doubt up on the hill over there, and wow look at that field of fear! Lovely. Oh my, coming across a sunset of need to get better at my craft! Just around that bend I see a hint of delusion!”

    That scenery of our sadness is crucial to look at, but we don’t have to take it too seriously either. Be open to the fact that what we think causes us pain also can cause us joy pending on what glasses we are looking out of. My creative pursuits bring me the most intense happiness even though it’s also why I scream into that mirror I’ve written “loser” on with my blood. We will never truly eradicate all the unsightly landscape of our psyches, but we don’t always have to feel burdened by the panorama either.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • 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

  • 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.”

  • 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: 1221

  • Chemical Candy Chaos!

    I am the type of person that would rather go hungry than to eat food that I don’t like, or is bad quality. Eating is such a pleasurable experience for me, and goes way beyond the basic need to fill my stomach. I want to have a tantric experience with my meals. I don’t want to eat just because I am hungry – I want my wet mouth to orgasm while I fill it with delicious sausages.

    Local and organic of course.

    Maybe this can be annoying for others – especially for those who want to just eat and move on with the day but have to instead wait for me to find the perfect artisanal pizza place specializing in hand foraged pixy farts.

    For example: There was this one time when I went hiking in the Swiss Alps with my boyfriend and friend, and we got really lost. We finally came across a sign that read “Wanderweg” and decided we would go there, and take the train home. We followed the path for a few miles, then came across another sign that said “Wanderweg.” This sign, however, pointed in another direction. We were confused, but followed that path for another few miles. We then came across two signs, that pointed in opposite directions, and they BOTH read “Wanderweg.”

    Toni: Where the fuck is Wanderweg!!!??

    Finally we passed some other hikers who explained that “wanderweg” means “path.”

    We didn’t get off the mountain until 10 at night, and had been hiking for 12 hours with no food or water. When we finally got to the small town, everything was closed except for one restaurant. Inside there was an old man smoking cigarettes and chewing on his hands. He showed us the menu, which consisted of a variety of canned meat.

    Toni: Ummm I don’t think I’m gonna eat here.
    My Boyfriend: What??! DUDE I am starving! Lets just eat! There is nowhere else?
    Toni: It just doesn’t look very good. And the smoke is bothering me. I won’t even be able to taste anything. Maybe we can take the train to the next town? Or walk there?

    And that was the day my boyfriend strangled me.

    And here is a story where my 5-year old almost choked the fuck out of me. The Munch and I were coming back from a road trip, and had been in the car for a few hours. She told me she needed to go to the bathroom, so I pulled over at a gas station. Once we were inside, she wanted a treat.

    The Munch: I want a treat.
    Toni: No. Not here. I can’t.
    The Munch: But MOM I AM REALLY HUNGRY! YOU DIDN’T GIVE ME DINNER AND I WANT A TREAT.
    Toni: I can’t buy you chemical candy.
    The Munch: PLEASE!? What about these?
    Toni: Sour Patch kids? No way dude! Those are chemical kids coated with sugar flavored chemicals.
    The Munch: What about these??
    Toni: Reece’s? Those are just partially hydrogenated oil patties. I can’t. I can’t support those companies. I can’t get you these natural nuts? Or GMO free chips if you are hungry.
    The Munch: BUT I WANT A TREAT!
    Toni: It’s not going to happen.
    The Munch: FINE!!!

    The Munch STORMED back into the car. She was PISSED! When we finally got home a few hours later, she was STILL mad! She went to bed furious at me.

    The Munch: I REALLY WANTED A TREAT!

    The next morning when she woke up, she still had the idea of treats on her mind.

    The Munch: Can I have a treat?
    Toni: Yes you can… but we have to go to the Green Grocer to buy one, because we have nothing here.
    The Munch: That’s too far! I don’t want to get back in the car!
    Toni: Neither do I!
    The Munch: Let’s go to the General Store.
    Toni: I can’t do that. All they have is chemical treats. If you want a treat we have to go to the Green Grocer.
    The Munch: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

    It’s not like she doesn’t KNOW I only buy organic food. The Munch is FULLY AWARE that I am never happy when someone gives her chemical candy to eat. Halloween was a big challenge for me! We had agreed that was the only chemical candy she would eat. But for whatever reason, she was NOT feeling my commitment to quality food this day.

    Toni: Dude I am not saying you can’t have a treat. I am saying you can’t have a chemical treat. The Green Grocer is five minutes farther than the General Store. Let’s just go there.
    The Munch: BUT I DON’T WANT TO WAIT THAT LONG!
    Toni: Can I tell you why I don’t want you to eat chemical candy?
    The Munch: FINE!
    Toni: Do you remember what war is?
    The Munch: When people kill each other for power?
    Toni: Yes… and back during World War 2, the Americans developed a chemical called “agent orange” to kill people. But when the war was over, they started using those chemicals on the food as pesticides – to kill the bugs. But pesticides kill all life – including butterflies, bees, and even birds!
    The Munch: BIRDS TOO?
    Toni: YES! And then we eat those pesticides! And these same companies have also have genetically modified plants, created a monopoly on seeds, and are arguably destroying the farming community. Plus… we don’t know the long-term impact of eating GMO tomatoes with fish genes in them.
    The Munch: I don’t want fishy tomatoes!
    Toni: And you know cancer? Since we have been doing this to our food, more and more people have been getting cancer. It’s hard to say it’s not related. So I don’t want to support these companies, because when I give them my money, I am saying that it’s okay to poison food, poison people, and poison the land.
    The Munch: Fine we can go to the Green Grocer. But I am getting TWO treats.

    “Seriously Mom, can you just shut your mouth hole?”

    munch shutting up toni

  • Health and Healing Hypocrisy

    I see all physical ailments as metaphysical messages. I believe our souls communicate to our egos through the language of the body. Every time I am sick, hurt, or in pain – I see it as an opportunity to dig deep in the bowels of my inner being, and extract a warm brown piece of who I really am.

    Because of this belief system, I never take western medicine. The medical establishment may lesson your symptoms, but it drives your sickness deeper inside. When you take pills for momentary relief, you are denying yourself the opportunity of self-reflection. Rather than trying to mask my pain, I will willingly sit in it so as to discover what it is I need to learn.

    Yet when my kid is suffering, I just want her to stop complaining – I mean I just want her to get better fast.

    The Munch was really miserable the other day. Usually when she is sick, she takes it as an opportunity to watch TV all day. Yet this time, she was in such a state of distress, that she wouldn’t even watch “My Little Pony!” She said that her eyes hurt too much to open them, and was writhing around in my bed in a state of physical crisis. The only thing I could do was to tickle her back to relax her.

    I felt so helpless. It’s traumatizing to see your child in anguish. But she was also being really dramatic and annoying about it. Sorry that was my auto correct. I meant to write; she was being SUPER dramatic and annoying about it.

    At first I tried to examine the mystical meaning of what was going on with her.

    Munch: MOMMY! It hurts! Wahhhahhhhaaa!
    Toni: I know it does sweetie. Can you tell me what it feels like?
    Munch: My eyes are pushing into my mouth.
    Toni: What do you think that means? What is it you don’t want to see? Or don’t want to say?
    Munch: WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? My eyes and mouth just hurt! Wahhhaaahha!
    Toni: I hear you – but what do you think is the significance of your eyes hurting? Do you feel like there is some hidden question you could be asking yourself? What are your eyes and mouth trying to teach you?
    Munch: MY FACE HURTS! WAHAHHHHAHH
    Toni: Is there something about yourself that you have to face, and that’s why your face hurts?
    Munch: I DON’T KNOW! I JUST KNOW IT HURTS!!!

    My philosophical inquiry wasn’t exactly getting to the bottom of things. The Munch didn’t seem too interested interested in delving into the spiritual significance of what was going on with her health.

    Then my mom called.

    My Mom: I think she has allergies.
    Toni: How do you know?
    My Mom: Because she is experiencing the same symptoms I used to have. Stuffy nose, itchy eyes, irritability… That’s why I take Benadryl every day.
    Toni: But what do you think that your runny nose and itchy eyes are trying to tell you mom? Is your nose running perhaps a metaphor for something else you are running from?
    My Mom: Jesus Toni, it’s just seasonal allergies from pollen. Stop being such a hippy freak and go get your daughter some over the counter allergy medicine like Zyrtec.

    So I did.

    The Munch ended up sleeping the entire day, and I kind of felt like I drugged my kid. Which I guess I did. But then she woke up the next day, and was perfectly fine.

    hiding under the pillow munch

    munch sick sleeping

    March 17, 2016 • 5 years old, Family Drama, Health, Mommyhood, Parenting, Talking and Not Talking • Views: 1411

  • My 5-Year Old Does Not Support the Rockefeller Drug Laws

    Every parent has a nighttime ritual with their child to put them to bed. Sometimes that includes a bath, a warm glass of milk, and reading a story. Other times putting your child to sleep involves a discussion about the Police state and Rockefeller drug laws – but to each his own.

    There is a heroin epidemic where I live in New Hampshire, and it is basically impossible not to know someone who is personally effected by this crisis. The Munch and I were talking about someone we love, and how they are dealing with a family member in jail because of heroine. The Munch had a lot of questions about what all this meant, and the complexity of trying to clarify the details to her made something very clear to me.

    The way we treat drug addicts in this country is criminal.

    I think the best way to tell if a system is flawed, is if it’s hard to explain it to a child. If you can’t easily articulate an issue, then something is wrong.

    When the Munch asks about what laws were, I didn’t find it challenging to express why we needed laws. When she asked me some examples of laws, it was perfectly logical to her why it was illegal to steal, or kill someone. There wasn’t a lot of confusion. But when trying to unpack why drugs were illegal and why people go to prison for drugs – that was actually really hard.

    The Munch: What do drugs do to people?
    Toni: They make you feel different – inside your body and your mind.
    The Munch: What do you mean feel different?
    Toni: You know how if you eat a bunch of sugar, and your body feels kind of funny after? Like it’s buzzing?
    The Munch: Yeah… and you have all this energy and want to run around?
    Toni: Well drugs make you feel different sensations in your body and in your brain.
    The Munch: Is sugar a drug?
    Toni: Well it affects your brain like drugs, but it’s not considered a drug.
    The Munch: Is wine drugs? Like how grow-ups drink wine and stuff?
    Toni: Kind of – but wine beer is considered alcohol. Not a drug.
    The Munch: Do people go to prison for wine?
    Toni: No… only drugs.
    The Munch: Why are drugs bad?
    Toni: Because you can get addicted to them.
    The Munch: Like how you say I can get addicted to sugar, or watching too much “My Little Pony.”
    Toni: Yes. Addiction is when you make a decision to do something you know is bad for you, but it’s too hard to make the decision to stay away.
    The Munch: And you go to prison because you have addiction and it’s too hard to stay away?
    Toni: Sort of. But also when you take drugs, you probably aren’t making the best decisions in general because you’re also on drugs. So you aren’t thinking clearly.
    The Munch: But don’t you take drugs when you are sick? Or have surgery? Like how you gave me drugs when I had my eye surgery so the pain would go away?
    Toni: Yes. Doctors give drugs when people are in pain, but those drugs don’t put you in jail.
    The Munch: What are the drugs that put you in jail?
    Toni: Illegal drugs.
    The Munch: But do people take illegal drugs because they are in pain?
    Toni: Yes. Emotional pain. And sometimes physical pain too.
    The Munch: So shouldn’t those people see a doctor for their pain and not go to jail?
    Toni: Yes they should.

    Since the Rockefeller drug laws were introduced, the prison population in the US has skyrocketed! We now hold the honor of being the number 1 country in the world with the most people incarcerated. Maybe the original intention was to make our neighborhoods safer, but sending millions of non-violent offenders to jail for exorbitant sentences has had a detrimental impact on communities. The Rockefeller drug laws are the most significant legal foundation of the war on drugs over the last 40 years. And despite the draconian mandatory minimums being removed 7 years ago, 48% of the people in our federal prisons are there for non-violent drug related crimes. But what if we started regarding drug abuse as a social issue to contend with and not a criminal one?

    These mandatory sentences haven’t addressed why people turn to drugs, but only built the foundation of our current penal system. These drug laws paved the path for the prison industrial complex that we see today – ironically with prisoners as the ones laying the concrete. When prisons become profitable businesses, then filling them up with people is simply free labor for Wall Street.

    So I agree with The Munch – maybe we should be sending addicts to hospitals and not prisons.