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

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

    It only sort of works.

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

    It just depends on the day!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Isn’t that the hilarity of life?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    (Pause for dramatic exorcism of entity)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • The Real-Estate Agent In Your Brain (Renting Out Your Depression and Anxiety Apartments)

    When I am my happiest, I am thinking the least. Not a lot is going through my head when I’m having a good time. I’m not thinking about my own personal failures, the fact that humans are currently causing our 3rd massive extinction of animals, or about the inevitability of implicit bias and how our collective unconscious mentalities only further subjugate the already oppressed and vulnerable. I’m not thinking of any of that, or feeling the inevitable depression that coats those thoughts, but instead I strip down, allowing my brain cavity to empty out the pesky thoughts of the overwhelming inequality in the world, leaving space to forget all that momentarily to instead notice the beauty, hope, and potential all around me… and then of course I take another hit of weed.

    When I’m at my most depressed, I’m thinking a lot. My mind is filled with the futility of my artistic pursuits – how I’m just spinning wheels, existing in a vortex of my own mediocrity and meaningless efforts. I question why I spend my time yearning for something I’ll never achieve because my poor life choices mixed with average abilities have rendered me forever insignificant. My head will then fill with the living nightmare of my political and social impotence to be part of a real revolution that annihilates the economic system that has corrupted every facet of human culture and serves as the driving force of ecological terrorism we’ve enacted on the planet. I’ll lose myself in these thoughts that everything is so insurmountable and regardless of my emotional boner to penetrate society with my positive influence, I’m instead a flaccid inactive member that hangs pathetically, ashamed of my own inadequacy.

    Everyone feels this way right??

    Most people I know battle with depressive thinking. We all choose to handle it in our own ways. We self-medicate, masturbate, and believe that smoking a vape is safe. Yet the truth is, there are countless things to be legitimately depressed about, yet we all crave reprieve from that all consuming feeling of no feeling. No one wants to be depressed. There is a massive industry promising you relief from this encompassing emotion, and people will deal with the side effects of dry mouth(s) and soft dick for liberation. Depression is a pervasive feeling that has swept across this country with millions of people aching to sweep it off the platter of their emotional plate for good.

    We can be depressed about a romance gone sour, a love that has curdled in the cup of your heart that you don’t know how to reverse the rotting process. So you think about this person obsessively, not because it feels good, but because it feels bad. It’s almost as if you’re not the one doing the thinking. That someone else is controlling your mind as if with a remote. Every time you try and change the channel to something else, they change the channel right back to your heartbreak. You try desperately to watch something benign like animal planet, but this demon keeps forcing you “Clockwork Orange” eversion therapy style to instead stay tuned to the reality show of your bitter rejection.

    Maybe you’re depressed because you can’t have the career you want, the baby you want, or the life that you want. When your needs aren’t being met, or you feel at the mercy of a culture that’s designed to keep you down because you’re not the status quo, it’s natural to feel hopeless, helpless, and despondent. Yet those feelings are often not in the backdrop of your brain, quietly murmuring in a corner of your mind, but instead they are the loudest voices in your head – reminding you constantly of their existence by screaming their discontent.

    Why is it that when you WANT to think about something else, you CAN’T? Aren’t you the only person in your mind? So then why can’t you choose what you do and don’t think about!? If YOU don’t want to be thinking about something, yet can’t stop thinking about it, then WHO is the one making you think about it? Is there a real-estate agent in your mind renting out the rooms of your psyche?

    Imagine your brain as an apartment building, and each feeling is an apartment in your head. Let’s say you’re in a relationship, and you give that person the keys to your penthouse. The penthouse is of course the pinnacle of your mental energy, so by living in the penthouse your lover becomes the thing you think about the most, care about the most, and are most consumed with. If the relationship is good, or you’re in that initial phase of love/lust where everything seems perfect and full of possibility, then allowing yourself to daydream about that person all day feels okay. But what happens when the relationship starts deteriorating? Then thinking about that person is going to make you feel like shit, yet you can’t not think about them because they live in the fucking penthouse of your brain! In order to stop thinking about them, you need to get the keys back!

    You tell the real-estate agent in your mind that you’re breaking up, so your lover can’t live in the penthouse anymore. The real-estate agent then says “Okay, so we’re evicting Chad from the penthouse – who wants to rent the space now? Oh ‘Crippling Self-Doubt’ your application looks good and I see you have the full down payment. Wow, ‘Self-Loathing,’ your credit score checks out – y’all wanna be roommates? Now, who wants to rent the anxiety apartment because we just remodeled it and added a few extra rooms in including a master bath for depression! Oh Chad you’d like to live in anxiety now? Sure that works out, and you’re new girlfriend can even have her office in there, so perfect. Ummm let’s see, looks like suicidal thoughts has a room to fill, any takers? Looks like Chad wants a few more keys to some other apartments. How about right before bed thoughts, and first thing in the morning thoughts? Great. Oh, and of course Chad, here is the key to listening to music and watching people kiss on the street.”

    Who lives in the penthouse of your mind? If it’s another person, career goal, how fucked up the world is, or a specific vision of how your life should be – chances are that you’re going to think about things that make you miserable. We have no control over other people, we have no control over our success, we have no control over the Illuminati, and we have no control when it comes to constructing the perfect life. If your penthouse is rented to something or someone you have no control over, then you will always feel powerless in your own mind. Instead, why not rent out the penthouse of your brain to the process of self-growth? Not a specific vision of what that looks like, but rather the simple journey of self-reflection and actualization. If you decide that your one goal in life is to evolve at whatever pace makes the most sense at the time, then you are no longer a victim of circumstance. You are the architect of your own personal progress, and you can design your penthouse for you. Maybe your kitchen is messy and the master bedroom is still under construction, but you still sleep well in the guest room and the walk-in closet is finally finished. As long as you’re working towards progress, you will always feel some sort of mental peace. Yeah the world is a fucking trashcan filled with racism, sexism, hate and fear – but the greatest form of activism starts with empowering yourself to have the mental energy and emotional bandwidth to put yourself out there in the face of all the adversity and try. Why rent your penthouse to anyone else besides your self-awareness? It’s YOUR penthouse after all. Would you own an apartment building and live in the basement? So why would you do that in your own head?

    Of course for some many of us that are in debt, the targets of bigotry, or suffering from severe trauma – your penthouse is going to have some squatters. When you are struggling financially and worry if you can feed your family, those thoughts are going to plague you. If you’re a person of color constantly reminded that your life doesn’t matter, these thoughts will haunt you. If you’re the victim of some awful crime it’s going to be incredibly to hard push those thoughts out of the penthouse. You maybe have to have some unwanted tenants in your penthouse, but you STILL have to insist that it’s YOUR name on the lease, and your RIGHT to kick them out as you gain strength and need more rooms.

    Then don’t forget how do you want to design the rest of the building? You are going to have an anxiety apartment, a self-doubt apartment, a self-loathing apartment… But how big are they? Who are you renting them out to? Who are you allowing in these spaces? What about your love apartment? Your feeling optimistic apartment? How big are they? And what is your screening process like? Don’t let rats and vermin take over your building and make sure you’re only giving out keys to those with impeccable references!

    Look at this lovely bath in the penthouse in your brain!!!

    April 12, 2018 • ambitions, emotions, Musings, problems, Relationships, responsibilities • Views: 536

  • Maybe We Should Get to Know Each other BEFORE Getting Naked?

    Toni: I totally forgot about that attempted rape!!!!

    That was an actual sentence that came out of my mouth last weekend. I wasn’t trying to be flippant – it was just an authentic reaction to a memory I hadn’t thought about since it happened. Not because I was repressing trauma (I don’t think) but more because it was just one of so many times where a man tried to sexually violate me that I swept it under the Persian rug of my consciousness. I got away, and nothing happened, so why file it in the memory banks? That’s how many #metoo moments a lady can have. So many, you forget about the ones you escape.

    Sadly, not every time I was in a creepy situation with a guy did I feel tough enough to scream in his face, “I’m going to cut off your dick and eat it” – too many times I felt the opposite. I have plenty of memories where I felt unsure and unsafe. I acquiesced. I resigned. I did things I didn’t want to do because I didn’t have it in me to yell about chomping off penises. This is the problem with the gray area around sexual assault. The story that Aziz Ansari is currently the unwilling ambassador of. The encounters that leave a woman feeling sexually violated even though she wasn’t held down with a gun to her head, and the man is left confused, not believing he did anything wrong. I think in Western American culture we have come to a common understanding of what violent rape is, but we have no idea about the massive spectrum of harm against women that is now dominating the conversation.

    WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT THE GRAY AREA!!

    Not just us ladies. If men want to stop getting accused of being rapey they’ve got to be open to understanding why shit feels rapey. Probably a lot of men are thinking right now, “Shut the fuck up… just shut the fuck up about all this. Your feelings make me uncomfortable so stop sharing them. Shut the fuck up and take it.” Well, we have. We’ve shut the fuck up for thousands of years and now we’re done being quiet.

    Women are trying to talk about it, and that is actually the MOST important part of this movement. Sure it sucks for these public figures that are now becoming the reluctant figureheads of these dialogues. It may not feel fair to some that Aziz is experiencing a massive public shaming for behaving in a way that millions of men do daily. But you know what else isn’t fair? The millions of women getting raped at this moment across the world. Life isn’t fair. It hasn’t been fair for women since the dawn of the patriarchy, and it hasn’t been fair for most men either. Some men that aren’t technically “bad” men are going to go down, and yeah, it’s a real bummer for them – but it’s also the ONLY way men will listen. I think many of us feel conflicted because who wants a seemingly benign dude like Aziz to be the poster boy for sexual assault? Especially when what he did feels so relatable to so many? Trust me, I’d rather have a white piece of shit like Weinstein continue to be the face of the #metoo stories because I hate the racial undertones. Yet Weinstein was such a monster that most men were like “Shit, I’m not like that mother fucker so I must be okay.” The reality is that these more common stories have to be the ones we’re paying equal attention to even if they lack the obvious violence of the Weinstein style rapes. The more men identify with Aziz and his story the more men will develop a greater curiosity to understand what all these “lady feelings” are about when it comes to sexual assault. The more men that burn in fire of this flaming desire women have to be heard, the more men will wake up and listen.

    This is not a bad thing. This is actually really important for men, women, intimacy and culture. I think we’re actually evolving, or at least the process is in front of us. Yet the question shouldn’t be “why don’t these women just leave if they feel uncomfortable,” but rather “why aren’t men curious about the woman’s sexual and emotional experience?”

    Of course there are instances when husbands rape their wives. There are countless stories of someone you know raping you. This happens too. Knowing each other will not stop all rape, but it will have an impact on these millions of confused moments between strangers. In modern western “hook up culture” having sex with a stranger has become normalized. Yet there are MANY problems with this expectation that you should get naked with someone you barely know. One major issue is that you have NO idea their sexual history or experience with trauma. When you don’t know a person, you have no way of knowing if they are fucking you because they want to, or because they have become psychically paralyzed and are trying to get away from you but don’t know how. Our personal histories contribute to our sexuality and how we react to situations that feel violating. Not every person that feels scared is going to speak out and let you know. Sometimes they are too petrified to say how terrified they really are. If you don’t know them, how would you have the emotional intelligence to pick up on their energy? As a man, isn’t that something you want to know?? Don’t most men want the woman they are with to genuinely want them? So if men like Aziz Ansari don’t want women to blog about them publically and tell their #metoo stories when they think they were just having a good time, they might actually have to get to know women before fucking them.

    Is this a bad thing? I don’t think so. Women are actually pretty interesting. We are worth getting to know. Yet we live in a culture that treats people as if they are disposable. Both men and women have become so accustomed to fucking strangers that the expectation to connect to a person intimately is no longer a pre-requisite of sex. We have stripped all the humanity from sex when we continue to refuse to actually know each other, know each other’s pain, and have curiosity for who we actually are. I’m not suggesting we expect each other to live out a Jane Austen novel, but rather, I don’t know… start developing a more patient and curious dynamic with the people we plan to share our bodies with? We’re more willing to expose our genitals to someone than we are our hearts.

    Sure the occasional one-night-stand can be fun – but that still needs to be a respectful encounter where BOTH parties are pretty clear of their intentions. This means that rather than using another person’s body to masturbate with, we actually have to have a real conversation making sure the exchange is mutual. Call me old fashioned but my best sexual experiences are when the guy I am with is interested in my experience with him. He is caring and aware of not only my pleasure, but also checking in if what he’s doing is okay. What makes the scene hot is his genuine interest in me as a human, even if I never see him again. And guys, wouldn’t you rather air on the side of caution??? Let me tell you something, when I want a guy, I fucking make that shit known. If I’m going to have a one-night stand, I’m goddamn ready to do that. I promise you – the type of woman that’s down to fuck for the night is the type of woman that will go after you. There is no need to push yourself on someone feeling timid because that’s a sure fire sign that she’s NOT INTO IT!

    We don’t need a movie “he’s not that into you,” we need the movie “she’s not that into your dick so don’t force it on her okay sweetie?”

    There are too many instances where men are caught off guard by how they make a woman feel during their sexual encounter. The apology of Aziz is maybe the most disturbing part of the story – how these two people were on SUCH drastically different pages regarding the same event. Him thinking she wants it, her feeling assaulted. Him believing that because he texted her a few times and took her out to dinner that he was being a gentleman, her feeling used and abused. The most crucial part of this narrative is how almost every woman and man in this country can relate to it. We’ve all been there, so now we all can talk about it.

    Texting someone a few times is not getting know someone. We pretend it is because so much of our communication is now through that medium, but a text convo is not going to build trust in an authentic way. Having a “text” relationship before a date is NOT building the intimacy necessary to be respectful during sex. For her to be able to say “I am uncomfortable” and for him to actually hear that. I know Aziz doesn’t want to think of himself as rapey, but he also wasn’t interested in this woman’s pleasure. He wasn’t interested in her mind. He wasn’t shoving his fingers down her throat while asking her what her favorite book was, or if she was close with her father. When women are objects of sex for men, there is no reason for men to try and understand who women are. I’m sorry to say this guys, but women are kind of sick of being sex dolls.

    We fear intimacy because we fear love because we fear getting hurt because we fear ourselves because we fear intimacy because we fear love because we fear getting hurt. YOU GET IT? We are driven by fear. Men treat women like androids not because they are brave, but because they are scared. They are afraid of women because women can hurt their hearts. So why not think of a woman as purely a pussy because that’s easier than being vulnerable to the potential pain she may cause? It’s a pre-emptive strike. If I treat you like you mean nothing to me, then you can’t make me feel like nothing.

    Everything about modern culture is actually tearing us away from each other. Most porn is a psychological barrier objectifying women and sex. Social media is a physical barrier fooling us that an online community is as valuable as real life interaction. The patriarchy is the ruling system dividing the genders and creating power dynamics that affect every facet of how we interact. We can’t talk about rape culture and #metoo moments without deconstructing the societal infrastructure that supports this complete lack of genuine connection. The complicated reality is that for men to know women, they also have to know themselves. There is no more avoiding the self. The day of reckoning has come. We are all victims of culture, yet we all have to take responsibility for our actions.

    So I know guys – it’s hard. But think of it this way. If every man had to suffer the social consequences of being sexually inappropriate with women then holy shit we’d have to restructure the entire planet because there is a lot of them. All those high powered 1%-ers, those lizard people politicians and executives would no longer be in power. Men in all industries would fall. It would be kind of amazing. Maybe this is what all people have been waiting for? Our current society is fucked as fuck, on the brink of nuclear war, and in the midst of environmental mayhem. I am willing to bet my left tit that 99% of the top 1% of men that are currently destroying all hope for humanity have sexually assaulted women. So if this #metoo movement means these dudes lose power and a new infrastructure must be formed in it’s wake then actually… everyone wins!

  • Maybe I’m not a total failure after all?

    In this age of social media where we’re constantly seduced into comparing our lives to the glorious existence of others, it’s easier than ever to feel like a total failure. If it weren’t for Facebook I wouldn’t know that a kid I went to high school with was now a U.S Representative and probably going to be president one day while I’m watching his speeches about health care stoned in my sweatpants. Forget the fact that he’s a Kennedy, he knew what he wanted out of life and pursued it with focus while I’m busy thinking how I should start micro-dosing mushrooms because then maybe I’ll come up with more vaginal related humor.

    I try not to envy others because jealousy is one of the most useless emotions. It doesn’t motivate me but rather traps me in a cage of my own insecurity and all I can do is feast off the flesh of whatever carrion the zookeeper of my psyche nonchalantly tosses at me. I grew up in a very competitive environment living in a Harvard Dorm as a child, and then going to a private school where kids were having panic attacks in the 5th grade because they feared an 85% on their spelling test meant they weren’t getting into MIT and only getting into Brown would cause deep shame to their family.

    I was used to competition and probably even felt it was healthy. It wasn’t until I drank ayahuasca in my 20’s (of course that happened) that I realized my competitive nature was part of my dis-ease. The medicinal vine showed me that comparing myself to others was what was holding me back emotionally in life and an energy I had to address. From that moment forward every time I felt myself comparing myself to someone else, either to feel better than them or worse than them, I would send that person loving kind energy. You should fucking try this sometime because it actually works. The minute you feel the impulse stop yourself, send them some love, and move on to the next thought. Don’t worry – you have thousands up there, like being curious if white supremacists worship albinos. I HAVE TO KNOW!

    Yet even though I developed this practice to stop me from comparing myself to others, I still have all this competitive energy socialized into me. Because I’ve been so committed not to direct it towards other people, its morphed into competing with myself. I think this is mostly okay, but also means that I’m always striving towards something in front of me. No matter what I accomplish, I’m then already focusing the next goal. I’m like one of those horses in a race chasing a fake rabbit that will always be a few paces ahead. I run faster and faster, frothing at the mouth hoping to catch up with a dream that is unattainable because I’m not meant to reach it. Okay fine, that’s not a great way to be either. Whatever no one’s perfect.

    Everyone always tells me I have to enjoy the journey because the journey is all we have. Yeah, yeah, yeah, the stupid journey. Don’t get me wrong, I believe this to be true, it’s just hard for me. I try my best to have patience with myself and realize that there is no destination because the place I’m trying to go will always change. I can’t reach the horizon because it actually doesn’t exist. It’s just an abstract line in front of me that will always move farther into the distance. There’s no point in stressing out about my lack of success because I’ll probably always want more. The best thing I can do is to accept that truth, and appreciate the process. I’m trying. I really am. Some days are better than others, but there are moments where I can actually feel this peace of mind and not just pretend I do.

    But what is success really? The way I measure success is through my work ambitions, but is that a metric I should be using? Aren’t there other ways to track success beyond the recognition of the economic marketplace validating your effort? Is my obsessive determination to quantify my artistic self my only worth? Of course not, even though it can feel that way for me.

    What I realized about myself recently is that all the parts of myself I value the most are the most conventionally “masculine” aspects of my personality. I respect that I work really hard, that I’m driven, that I don’t have emotions, that I rarely cry, that I’m hyper rational and argue like a corrupted corporate lawyer. It’s rare that I look at my more feminine qualities and honor them as part of my success.

    YOU GUYS!! DID YOU HEAR WHAT I JUST SAID? This is so humiliating to admit? I secretly worship my inner male and cast aside my inner female? Me?? The womb worshipping witchy woman? How can this be? How insane is it that a rabid feminist that gnaws at the heels of the patriarchy is still so internally ruled by it. I never feel pride about my more “feminine” successes. They are not a part of my self-esteem. In fact, I barely even notice them. So how can someone like me, who so openly honors the feminine in others, disgrace it in myself?

    When I confessed this to myself I was overcome with confusion. My whole life’s goal has been to venerate the metaphoric vagina in all of us. I believe the feminine aspects of all humans have to be penetrated into culture. Society has been ruled by the so-called “male” for so many thousands of years and we’re obviously out of balance. I’m not talking gender binary because gender is a fluid spectrum every person experiences. I’m talking about how society has defined, boxed in, and co-opted our understanding of gender. Whether we identify with gender or not, the gender stereotypes exist and we’ve been over valuing the “masculine” since the dawn of the patriarchy.

    If I’m going to self-righteously preach the glory of the feminine and how we need its influence, I also have to apply this rhetoric to myself. Isn’t it time I de-program my vision of success through this masculine financially based model and look at what I’ve accomplished that isn’t quantified? I may be an economic failure, but that doesn’t mean I’m useless. For the first time I looked at my life and proclaimed to myself that my greatest success has been being a mother.

    I know. I just said that.

    This may be something many women feel, but it was never something I felt. It didn’t even occur to be to see my mothering as a success. First of all, my life is my writing and that’s not funny content to write about – no one wants to hear about that. Can you imagine if my blog was just a series of humble brags about how much I loved my kid and what an easy time we were having? Boring. Snore. Blah. Makes me want to barf. But the truth is, that I’ve done a pretty fucking great job raising my kid, so much so that I can barely write about her anymore because she’s just so damn delightful. We have very little conflict, she’s wonderful to be around, I really enjoy her company, and our boundaries are super clear. I don’t feel like I even have to parent The Munch right now. I ask her to do things and she just does them because we have an understanding of how to best live together and there is mutual respect. The Munch is more like a roommate than I kid that I have to constantly monitor their behavior. I mean just writing this paragraph kind of made me gag, but I’m trying to hold back the bile.

    I’m sitting with this. I’m doing my best to let myself feel the success in my mothering and just not feel like a total failure for one day of my life. Sure most of the things I apply to reject me. Yeah I prostitute myself on the regular for “likes,” “comments,” and “followers.” Yes I spend everyday desperately trying to make myself culturally relevant in an artistic world oversaturated with talent and content. That’s all still true and can eat away at my soul like a raccoon at the dump of trashed self-confidence. Yet I do have this one gem in my life – this little person I’ve influenced that is not an asshole. That’s got to count for something right?

  • Men That Are Part of The Solution

    Throughout these past few weeks of Weinstein and #metoo, I keep craving for men to participate more in the conversation. I know I am not alone in this. I think we all know that we cannot change rape culture with women solidarity alone. We need alliances with men. In order for the deeply engrained patriarchal messaging to change, it is crucial that men are willing to look at themselves, their own behavior, and ask themselves hard questions. I’ve had many private conversations with men that have started to contemplate their part in this zeitgeist, and wonder about their past in a new light.

    It’s hard for me to say that men are born rapey. I know too many little boys for me to chalk rape culture up to testosterone. Last night I was with my friend and her small son, and he peed his pants. She asked if I could watch him while she ran to the car to get clean clothes, and there I was, staring at this 4-year old little boy with no pants. He was holding his shirt up with his one hand to avoid getting pee on it, and then holding his dick with the other. We looked at each other, and he tugged on his dick a bit while maintaining direct eye contact. I asked him what he was going to be for Halloween. He told me a ninja. I went into some stories of my past Halloweens to continue the conversation. I told him of trick-or-treating in the city, scarfing candy to the point of vomiting, and of course how my mom would eat my favorite chocolates while I was at school. When this kid’s mom came back with clean pants, he then relayed to her EVERYTHING I had told him. He recounted my stories in exact detail, sharing my joys and pains with his mom with the empathy of Mother Theresa. This little boy listened to me intently – despite his dick in his hand. THAT IS THE POTENTIAL OF MEN YOU GUYS!

    Men are not born monsters. I mean fine, some are. Some people are born with the desire to eat other people. There are some fucked up brains out there, and it doesn’t matter who their parents are, or what school they went to – they are going to do absolutely insane shit like keep a freezer full of heads. Some atrocities can’t be explained through conditioning, society, or the patriarchy… but those cases are the extreme.

    Since rape culture and sexual assault is SO PERVASIVE THAT EVERY SINGLE WOMAN I KNOW HAS EXPERIENCED IT MULTIPLE TIMES… there is something beyond brain chemistry fueling this. Too many men have been perpetrators. This is not purely a phenomenon of some bad eggs… but rather a ubiquitous energy that affects us all.

    Culture at large, the patriarchy, and our rapey economic system entwined with the corporate and political agenda that backs it up are CRUCIAL ASPECTS OF RAPE CULTURE. (I wrote about this in detail last week). We live in a society propped up by a system of exploitation. The patriarchy of course oppresses women, but also men – even though few of them are the obvious beneficiaries of it. If you are not part of the 1% of men that the patriarchy is designed for, then you’re just as negatively impacted, but in a different way.

    Men internalize the patriarchy different than women. They are brought down by feelings of insecurity and failure. For me as a woman to not succeed in the patriarchy, fine whatever, it’s not intended for me. I know that. If I were to succeed in life it would be despite the patriarchy, not because of it. But for men to not succeed, you’re an extra loser. The powerlessness I feel in being an economic failure is easily explained by a rampant sexist culture that has been at play for thousands of years. For men to feel powerless, when they are technically the ones with the power, it is a distinct feeling of weakness.

    Many men act out this deep seeded insecurity and self-flagellation onto women. They take out their rage of feeling pathetic onto those they can easily exploit. They seek the power they lack by overpowering others. Yet even though I’m not going to feel bad for a raper, I would rather be raped then live with raping someone. I would rather be the victim of violence than the perpetrator. I can live with myself after being raped, sexually assaulted, and violated. I don’t have the guilt of doing that to someone else. These aren’t fun memories for anyone of course. They’re horrible and they eat away at you. But when I’m lying on my deathbed I’m not going to be filled with regret for being a horrible person. I don’t care who you are. But when you’ve denigrated and hurt others, you will have to face that when you’re dying. You can run from it your whole life, but you can’t run forever. It will catch up to you. I don’t know if you’ve ever been around a dying rapist, but I have – and let me tell you, there is a fear in their eyes I will never have.

    The patriarchy is the guiding force at play, yet we women also prop it up. As painful as that is, and as much I can say that we are brainwashed so of course that happens – it’s still a fact we have to face. Its already circumcised women that circumcise girls – women that have personally gone through that pain and suffering then perpetuate it in the name of tradition. The women carry on the practice. It’s white women that voted Trump into office. (Sorry I just gagged). There are women that are part of the “Men’s Rights Movement.” Women are married to Donald Trump and Harvey Weinstein. Women may be programmed by the patriarchy yes – but not all of us are. Many of us are fighting.

    Men too are encoded by the patriarchy, but some of them are trying to break free from the matrix as well. We need to come together, but in order for us to do that, we have to work with the men that are opening their eyes trying to change things.

    As I woman I want men to be my ally. In order for men to understand their destructive behavior towards women they have to 1) look out how culture at large has shaped them, and 2) understand their own personal context.

    Which leads me to a post I recently read on Facebook by Daniel Pinchbeck. In the post he attempts to understand himself, and why he acted in ways towards women that was sexually inappropriate. He didn’t break any laws, or act in a way that would get in him jail, but we all know there is a major gray area when it comes to sexually violating someone. Not everything you do that would abuse a woman is illegal.

    Pinchbeck goes deep into his life experience, trying to understand the primal wounds of his childhood that were at play in his adult decisions. He talks about his relationship with his mother, some memories of his grandmother that involved forced enemas, and how he was in a full body cast from ages 10-11. His effort seemed to me to dig into the personal framework that shaped him. He talks of the impact of other men and how they treated women, as well as his experience of how fame gave him access to women he never had before. To me this was an attempt for a man to publically own up to his part of rape culture, apologize for it, and try to understand how he came to be part of it in the first place. The most important sentence he wrote was, “I want to clear this thoroughly and thoughtfully. I would like to ask any woman who has felt wronged by me to contact me directly or through an intermediary, if she would like. We can discuss in private or we can use mediators if that seems best. I appreciate those who have written to me already.”

    That feels sincere to me. I read that as not as, “hey I fucked up, but I have mommy issues so it’s not my fault,” but rather, “I know this Facebook post is only the tip of the iceberg and I want the actual woman that have ever felt violated by me to know that I am fully wanting to work together, admit my faults, and at least plant the seeds for healing.” None of this is perfect, but there is no guidebook for how to deconstruct yourself. Pinchbeck’s effort is what I felt was the most important. This is not a man that is running from his past, but towards it.

    To me, this is an example of what I want men to be doing. It’s not flawless. It’s messy. But yeah, so is all of life. If any of the men that sexually violated me reached out to say, “Hey, I know I really fucked up and I would love to talk about how to heal,” I would be ready to listen. Not for them, but for me. It’s better than dealing with it all alone, as these events I try not to think about too much because the memories make my body cringe.

    I started looking through the comments of his post, and some people were supportive, and others were so shitty! Just tearing him down for saying anything. Page 6 even wrote an article saying that Pinchbeck was trying to blame women for his sexual misconduct. Page 6! The same mother fuckers that defended Weinstein for years is now calling out a dude trying to be part of the solution under the guise of feminism, or sticking up for women.

    Feminism is about finding genuine equality between the genders. Part of that process is making space for men to look at their own home lives, how they were parented, how they were mothered, and question how it effected their sexuality. If I said publically that the way my parents treated me impacted my sexual identity, no one would question that. Isn’t feminism allowing men to do the same? Isn’t that equality? For Pinchbeck to wonder how his personal story impacted his actions I think is something we all have to do. We must understand our primal wounds as children in order to comprehend our adult selves.

    As parents, we are going to make an impact on our kid’s sexuality. Of course we are. Parents influence every aspect of our children, and even though no one likes to think of their child as a sexual creature, they are. I didn’t see Pinchbeck as blaming his mom, or women, but asking questions around how he was raised. He was trying to understand his past and how internalized behaviors he didn’t understand when he was a kid.

    People abuse PC-ness and become vicious when ripping other’s apart in the name of victimness. Yes it’s important that we have a culture shift that is more sensitive, but that does not give people a blank card to violently bash others in the name of justice. How is that progress?

    If we attack men opening up about their regrets for not doing it EXACTLY right, how does that inspire other men to do the same? We need men to be doing more of this, not less!! If the response is to demonize them rather than asking questions to FURTHER the conversation, then we’re just making men more indignant. We need men to open up and be vulnerable, and if we shit on them when they’re trying, we’re only discouraging others.

    We need a foundation to start from – a platform for healing to begin. That starts with men feeling that there is room for them to be vulnerable, and open up. Their first try may not be watertight, but it’s a start. From there we keep talking, keep unwinding, and keep unraveling the thread of the patriarchy that has tied us all up in a web of misery.

  • It’s Too Stressful To Care

    For those of you that don’t live in the North East, New England has been having a glorious global warming fall. It’s been so unseasonably warm that I swam across the lake last week. That’s an hour-long swim that I took in late September – sponsored by Big Oil!

    Because I live in the soon to be Tundra of New Hampshire, I’ve been trying to appreciate all these uncharacteristic warm fall days. I push it out of my mind that this is all a consequence of greenhouse emissions being trapped in the atmosphere, because greenhouse gases sound kind of environmental no? How can they be bad if the word GREEN is used to describe them?

    On Sunday The Munch went to a birthday party, and I figured she would be so pumped full of sugar/GMO candy/cake that spending the afternoon at the playground wouldn’t be a bad idea. Munch climbed into the car with her bag full of candy, and I was emotionally prepared for her to eat the majority of it.

    Munch: Mom, we got all this chemical candy from the Piñata at the birthday party!
    Toni: I see that love.
    Munch: I tried one piece and I didn’t like it. It was too chemically. I’m not going to eat this chemical candy. It’s gross.

    Okay, first of all, I can’t believe my indoctrination has worked this well. My kid is so conditioned to believe that chemicals in your food are bad, that she wouldn’t even eat her Gummy Bears. I felt a deep pride that The Munch respects me enough to not only listen to my opinions, but also adopt my values as her own. Yet another part of me wanted her to eat all that chemical candy because fuck authority Munch!!!

    Once at the park, I saw some friends collected together at picnic blanket. I went and joined them, happy to experiencing this lovely day in this quaint community. The whole scene was really sweet. Children playing in the sun, mom’s watching their kids frolic while talking about G-spot orgasms. You know, the usual.

    We were having a good time is the point. Then somehow we started talking about the news and what was going on in Puerto Rico.

    Friend 1: I think that I need to be more informed about stuff.
    Friend 2: Ugh. I can’t. It’s too stressful. I only have so much empathy. It’s hard to have empathy. Things are always happening somewhere. It’s too much. That’s why I live here – in this bubble. I live in this bubble so I don’t have to care.

    Okay so here is where shit starts to get allllllll fucked up.

    Now I had a LOT of opinions about the above statement. A LOT! But I also didn’t know this person very well. It felt super awkward to disagree with someone so violently that I wasn’t even sure I’d met before – especially because we weren’t alone. It’s one thing to have a debate one on one, it’s another thing to school someone in public. And because I am such a people pleaser, it’s hard for me to knowingly make others uncomfortable. Yet at the same time, isn’t my being a people pleaser also about me pleasing myself because I don’t want to make myself uncomfortable because someone else is uncomfortable?

    The second more humiliating problem was just like this person felt it was too stressful to know about the world, I felt it was too stressful to provoke an argument about the 2,000,000,000 ways I disagreed with her. Just like she wanted to live in the bubble of not caring about the rest of the world’s suffering, I wanted to live in the bubble of not having to care about a middle class white woman that thinks it’s okay to not care about the world because you live in a fucking bubble.

    DO YOU SEE THE IRONY!!!!!

    As much as she didn’t want to have to care about the world, was as much as I didn’t want to have to care about her not caring about the world. Just like she wanted to enjoy her day not giving a shit about Puerto Rico, I wanted to enjoy my day not giving a shit about her not giving a shit!

    AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

    There was also this feeling I had of total impotence. I had no idea how to tell her that she should care about people. I felt the same impotence for that situation that I feel about the trauma that is going on in the world. The same impotence she probably feels about the trauma of the world. There is so much violence, destruction, and gratuitous misery. It’s not like I don’t understand that feeling of not wanting to feel. Yet even though I don’t want to feel, I still feel I have to put myself in the face of feeling.

    Another one of my friends who shares my political beliefs was sitting next to me during this fateful moment. We both just got really quiet and looked down at the grass. My high functioning autism kicked in, and I refused to make eye contact. My social anxiety and fear of confrontation took over my physical form. As much as I wanted to scream, I also wanted to cry. The silence permeated the group. It was obvious that we didn’t agree, and my friend made the suggestion that you really don’t have to do that much to be a quasi-active person or be helpful to others. There were some vague agreements on that, and then the conversation shifted to food politics. If there is anything that white middle class people that live in a bubble can get behind, it’s organic farming.

    I left the park feeling both traumatized caught off guard by this chick’s ignorance. I didn’t have the energy to say anything. I didn’t know how to change her mind, or express my thoughts in a way that wasn’t aggressive. So I helplessly said nothing.

    This is the problem with humanity. We are sheep. Sheep that passively mill around, waiting to be devoured by the corporate and political systems we willingly allow to control us. Flocking about, unconcerned that the wolves lurking in the shadows are ones we’ve actively surrendered to. Yet expecting us to not be sheep may be unrealistic. Adaptation and sheepness have been a major part of our evolution. The fact that we are easily led around by the sheep dog we elect is why we were able to become the successful parasites on the earth that we see today. If humans weren’t sheep, there would be such constant dissent, bickering, questioning, and pontificating that we wouldn’t get much done. Because most of us are sheep, we can be easily organized and controlled. Being sheep is how we’ve been able have the so-called progress of the industrial revolution. There were plenty of sheep to work mindless jobs in factories. Our sheep ways have made it possible to for the few to control the many for thousands of years. We sheep have built pyramids, gone to war, and paved the way for John D. Rockefeller and Mark Zucerberg to have taken over our bodies and minds. It is our sheep ways that have been crucial for the invention of all modern technology and artificial intelligence so the robots will soon rule the planet.

    Yet if we accept our sheep ways, that doesn’t mean we have to be ignorant sheep. We can be knowing sheep- sheep that are interested in evolving. The ability to adapt to our environment was a crucial part of our evolution at one point. The ability to adapt our environment to us was the next crucial aspect of our evolution. Now we have the need to re-imagine our environment because at this is exact moment the earth is trying to shake us off the planet like a wet dog with fleas.

    All animals evolve. We are evolved animals. Now we have to become evolved humans.

    If you are an American, you are one of the privileged people on the planet. If you are white and middle class, you are even more privileged. You can’t have the rational that you were born into a bubble and therefor entitled to stay in that bubble. That bubble was built off the blood of others. That bubble is not clean. No one deserve’s to live in a bubble.

    I benefit off the imperialist and colonialist actions of the United States. Whether I want the government to be secretly destroying Yemen in a covert war or not, I still benefit off of those actions. Even if I don’t want poor black Americans to be incarcerated for absurd drug laws designed to imprison them and force generations into slave labor for the prison industrial complex, I still benefit from those actions. Even if I don’t want Puerto Rico to be drowning, I still benefit from our President refusing adequate financial aid.

    No matter what I want to be happening, all the despicable acts of our government still benefit me, and therefor it’s my goddamn responsibility to give a shit. Poverty, starvation, lack of access to clean water – this is not how life has to be. These atrocities are in direct correlation to political corruption and greed, not because it’s inevitable. The world has the resources for every human to live a descent life with access to the basic amenities. The fact that billions are denied this right is a choice. It is because of misdistribution and a deliberate withholding.

    In America, a large percentage of us can afford to learn and care about the well being of others. Most of us are not in survival mode, wondering if we will ever eat again. For those people, the 20% of American’s that live below the poverty line – I get it, you’re busy. You have yourself to worry about. That’s cool. You have the right to not tear your hair out because of global injustice. But for the rest of us, if you have time to be on Facebook, you have time to care and do shit for others.

    Here’s the lake and sunset that day I swam across… it’s a pretty bubble

  • Generation Blame Game

    Over the summer I performed at a dance festival and let me tell you – there is nothing quite like sharing a dressing room with a bunch of teenage girls. Not only because their boobs are barely below their shoulders they’re so perky, but more because the amount of texting, Snapping, Facebooking, Instagramming, and tweeting was so extreme that I wondered if they had wifi signals coming out of their nipples. I barely had service??

    I can’t criticize the children of today because they are victims of our society. Millenials didn’t create iPhones – Baby boomers did. It’s the generations before you that produce the technology that you’re born into. It’s the humans that came before you that decide the moral compass you’re supposed to adhere to. People create ideologies, think of scientific advancements, pontificate on ethics, ponder human health, opine about systems, and then test their inevitably flawed conclusions on their kids.

    We’re all just the experiments of our parents and the generation that raised us.

    Humans are still evolving and it’s happening more rapidly than ever since the industrial revolution. My kid was born knowing how to swipe through pictures and navigate Netflix. This only exaggerates these feelings of disconnect between generations. I am not THAT much older than a millennial, you could even say I am on the cusp, but I feel like an anthropologist around them – like a modern day Jane Goodall in the forest of a tattoo parlor. I observe them with a slight confusion as I scribble into my notepad; “The subject will post on Snap Chat while getting tattooed. Fascinating.”

    Each generation raises a generation that ends up feeling foreign to them, and I think that’s because we tend to forget that we are all products of our conditioning. In order for me to understand millenials, I have to fully grasp the world Baby Boomers have created for them to adapt to. Baby Boomers are the ones in power. They run our politics, industry, and Wall Street. At the top of most pyramids is a Baby Boomer, perched with their golden rattle like good ol’ Donny Trump – our king.

    I’m the child of baby boomers, and in my view, it’s my parent’s fault they handed me a trashcan of a world. We supposedly have 3 years left to save humanity from Climate Change. The world may be too hot for my kid to survive!!!!! Except for the hippies who fought for our rights in the 60’s, most of Boomers turned out to be the most consumerist, money hungry, self-centered people in history. They didn’t stop global warming – they accelerated it with their greed. When they came to power they gave up their acid and disco balls and paved the path for the economic and ecological tragedy of today.

    Yet that’s not fair of me! It’s not like the baby boomers are beings formed from Immaculate Conception. They are the products of their parenting. The common belief is that the boomers were too coddled by their parents. Supposedly The World War 2 generation, or the so-called “greatest generation” spoiled their kids so significantly that they had no perspective. Huh? I’m not so sure about that. I don’t know about you guys, but my Word War 2/ Great Depression grandparents weren’t exactly cuddly loving people. They’re a little rough around the edges. Sure, maybe they spoiled their kids with material goods – but the Baby Boomers were some traumatized infants.

    Because so many women were popping out babies like pop tarts, the medical industrial complex came up with a new way to birth babies. So a lot of the births during the 50’s and 60’s were twilight births. Now that may sound kinda dreamy… but basically it was out of the Twilight Zone. They would drug the mother to the point where she had zero memory of the birth. None. She was just knocked the fuck out. Then when she came to, they just handed her the baby. Now… this may come as a surprise, but a lot of mothers had trouble bonding with their baby after being dosed with disturbing amounts of morphine.

    These women were then encouraged to exclusively bottle feed their babies with formula. Not even try breastfeeding. Now formula is great when you need it. But half the babies in the 1950’s were raised completely on it. So we have these boomer babies with their disturbing births, their formula diets, and then here is the kicker – the conventional wisdom of that time according to behavioral psychologists was to… wait for it… hold your baby as little as possible!!!!! Yeah. Don’t cuddle your baby. Don’t hold it when it doesn’t need to be held. Nope. That will make them a pussy! Not being held builds character.

    Let me just remind you, that not being touched enough as an infant was later proven to do major and irreversible psychological damage. Touch is just as important to our health as food and water!!! So yeah, maybe the Baby Boomers had more material goods than their parents, but they were neglected as fuck as babies. And look what happened! We are on the verge of extinction now!

    Because boomers where emotionally abandoned that explains a lot of their psychology. Where boomers would let their kids crawl around in the back seat of cars, we modern parents will strap up our kids in car seats as if they were Hannibal Lector. Is that because modern parents are inherently anal? Or because we know more? Or because the “big seatbelt” industry has taken over? Or perhaps we are reacting to the trauma of our own childhoods by over compensating?

    I may question some (a lot) of my parent’s parenting decisions, but I can’t blame them without educating myself on their context. They didn’t have the information we have today, nor did they have the bandwidth to go the library and research the apocalyptic times they were creating. My mom didn’t have the Internet to inspire her to wonder what kind of chemicals were in my shampoo, if my Halloween candy was organic, or if there were razor blades in my apples. She would just be like, “I don’t know, take a bite and find out?”

    The more I understand my parent’s parents, the more I can understand my parents. But for my parents to understand me, they have to understand themselves.

    So what kind of kids are the current generation of parents going to create? Ones that will be so afraid of their own shadow that they willingly submit themselves to a virtual reality Matrix where they never see the light of day? Maybe? I don’t know! I for sure see that modern parents are uptight, but they also started a movement of Attachment parenting – which admittedly may not be very Buddhist of them – but they hold the fuck out of their babies. So we can judge them for being overbearing, but at the same time let’s leave the breastfeeding Time magazine mom alone. Who cares if her 6-year old kid barely had to get on his tippy toes for a sip? That kid may have had to experience some questionable boners, but I’m pretty fucking sure he’s going grow into a sensitive man who believes in universal healthcare.

    Snapping while getting tattooed!!

  • 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

  • My Life Pretty Much Sucks, How About You?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Noam with his paper towel.

    Noam’s apartment.

    My tearful goodbye, sending Noam away.

    The culprit… my cat.