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  • 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

  • Unleashing Your Inner Teen Girl

    I have a very mutable personality. It’s like my identity waxes and wanes depending on my audience. I can be the serious intellectual type, the conspiracy theorist nut job, the hard working artist, the responsible business owner, the esoteric psychic explorer, or that chick that makes a lot of pussy jokes. I wake up every morning wondering, “who the fuck am I going to be today?”

    I believe in flexible identities, and think we all should try on a variety of masks daily. The more open minded we can be for ourselves, that will translate into how we feel about others. Ultimately life is all about acceptance, so why not practice accepting every single facet of who you are?

    Maybe that sounds nutty to you, but if you think about it on a macro and micro level, everyone would benefit if we accepted each other fully. Families would get along better, marriages would last longer, and maybe there would be less mass murder… I mean religious war.

    I recognize that I may approach the world in a way not everyone can relate to – BUT YOU CAN BLAME MY PARENTS FOR THAT OKAY!? The way I was raised was much different than today’s standards where a kid has to be monitored while farting because god forbid their flatulence has too much velocity and they are blown out into the highway by their anal airstream. When I was 6- years old my family moved into a Harvard dormitory because my parents were the “house masters,” and that was pretty much the end of my being parented. My mom and dad were like “You’re grown right? Well we’re going to be busy running shit so good luck to you! The oven is over there.”

    Having a lot of independence at such a young age meant that I had to learn how to navigate the social stratosphere of Harvard college life. A lot of the kids missed their family, and I figured out how to fit in as de-facto kid sister. I would hang out in the girl’s rooms and keep them company while they stressed out over their love lives or getting an A-. (The kiss of death at Harvard). I would go through their stuff, find their diaphragms, and try to blow them up like balloons. I would eat dinner with the football team and tell them shit jokes to make them laugh. My childhood may have been unconventional, but it did teach me what beer tasted like at 11.

    Trying to understand social nuances at such a young age shaped me deeply. I realized that different people bring out different parts of myself, and part of the fun of being around a variety of humans is exploring the variety within me. I like losing myself in people, and allowing my identity to meld into their perception of me. When I’m with someone, I unconsciously figure out who they want me to be, and then become that part of myself. I am not committed to a one size fits all version of myself, because like wine, I am an acquired taste. Not everybody likes what I am throwing down, and there are going to be a LOT of moments where I should self-censor so as to not alienate myself… yet making people uncomfortable is also thrilling – so fuck it.

    As a grown up, I am constantly expected to conform to social norms of acceptable and responsible conduct. I know some people thrive under the pressure of adulthood, and enjoy the convention laid out before them. You know these types right? They don’t have any interest in pushing boundaries, or testing the waters of inflammatory behavior. They take life and themselves very seriously. I respect these archetypes because they are crucial to society functioning properly, yet like a teen girl, I want to rebel completely from those expectations.

    And that’s it you guys… My spirit will forever be a teen girl!

    We all have an age of our spirit – don’t you feel that? Some people are 3-years old forever, and others are 67. It just is!

    Because I am perpetually 16, my favorite people to be around are those that bring out my psyche’s true essence. At my dance studio I teach teen girls hip hop. Spending my afternoons twerking with them, talking about boys, and then more twerking is seriously the highlight of my day. The energy, enthusiasm, and sass of a bunch of teen girls is probably the most powerful force on the planet. If we could figure out how to channel that shit, it would solve the world’s energy crisis.

    I also have friends who bring out my inner teen. When we get together a manic giddiness takes over, and all we want to do is cause trouble. I love when I get into this headspace with someone because there is a specific intimacy that happens when you both are on the same page of “if it’s inappropriate, let’s do it.” I was just on vacation with my one friend, and got my period early. You’re welcome. We were at the beach and wanted to go swimming, but I hadn’t used a tampon in over 15 years.

    My friend: That’s so crazy to me that you don’t use tampons – you’re so vagina centric.
    Toni: I just don’t like plugging up my poon.
    My friend: Understandable.
    Toni: I seriously don’t know if I can do this.
    My friend: I’ll come with you in the bathroom and talk you through it.

    So there were, in a public bathroom stall, my friend looking at me like this was the most normal thing in the world.

    Toni: So I just shove it in there?
    My friend: More like press.
    Toni: Uhhhh okay… like this??
    My friend: GO SLOWER!!!

    Who the hell needs a tampon coach but a teen girl!!!???

    I get that it’s not legal or logical for everyone to hang out with teen girls for inspiration, but I highly suggest you finding your own inner teen girl. I’m talking about that part of you that doesn’t give a fuck about the future because you just KNOW everything is going to be amazing. That piece of you that is willing and unashamed to talk about everything and anything – whispering long into the night about nothing. The side of you that is bold and courageous because no one has told you to be otherwise. It is in there… I know it… and she will surprise you in the best way if you get in touch with her – BUT ONLY IF SHE IS 18!

    Then of course there is the depressed, moody, self-conscious, PMSy side of the teen girl that may not be as fun, but she also needs to be unleashed out into the world to show people what’s up.

    I don’t know what the hell is going on in this picture… but I do know that it’s so right.

    toni teenage bizba

    August 24, 2016 • Birth • Views: 1076

  • When You Have Nothing To Give But Forgiveness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Seriously, people can be such selfish assholes.

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

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

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

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

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

    I was trying to be a good mom right!?

    Ten days later I received this text.

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

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

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

    BUT I WAS WRONG – SO VERY WRONG.

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

    Here is my face in a toilet…

    toni face in toilet

    August 11, 2016 • Family Drama, Musings, Relationships • Views: 890

  • Death, Doughnuts, and Defecation

    Returning to my blog is kind of like coming back to an ex lover. I know I can eventually get off, but it’s gonna take work to get there. Mostly because I already know how everything can go terribly wrong.

    The month I was filming my movie was intense. My cinematographer and DP is a vampire who doesn’t sleep, so he insisted we film at sunrise because blah blah blah magic hour zzzzzzzzz. I’m the kind of lady that leisurely wakes after the last rooster has been slaughtered at my command, so I would have preferred if we just drank the blood of virgins instead.

    We got into a groove and became increasingly manic as the days went on. If we happened to have a break in the filming schedule, we would make a short film, or a music video to pass the time –we both entered into a frenzied state of hysteria. The seduction of the muse was so alluring that I think we became the bottom in a BSDM relationship with creativity.

    Retrospectively I realize that a huge part of my impulse to create is because it anchors my mind. It gives me something to think about, and having that structure helps me stay sane. When I listen to music I envision dances in my head. When I have no one to talk and nothing to distract me, I daydream about scripts I want to write and stories I want to tell. But when I don’t have anything creative going on, my mind wanders into a land of anxiety. I think about the past, conversations I wish I had, future events that will never happen, people I can’t control… Thinking about my actual life is way more boring than thinking about the made up lives of characters in my head.

    My creative drive keeps me on the road of mental stability, even though most of the things I create are mentally unstable.

    In the midst of filming my grandmother died. My mom called to tell me the news, and I realized I was eating a doughnut the moment her spirit traveled into the other dimension. It was a delicious treat, but it felt kind of strange to think that the person you owe your heritage to can die while you gingerly enjoy a yeasty delight. Then I had to continue moving forward with the filming because I had been planning it for months so what could I do? It’s kind of surreal how quickly life moves on. I was like “oh she died… and scene.”

    My grandmother had been sick and was suffering quite a bit. One of the last times I saw her she told me “I don’t want to leave the party, but I don’t like the way I am dancing.” We both agreed this was a pretty amazing metaphor, and congratulated her on her poetic phrasing. I have a lot of respect for a person who even when they are in their weakest time; they still have the strength to recognize their own epic quote. She was right though, the party will go on, but what’s the point of being there if you can’t get down?

    I don’t think it’s a tragedy when an 89-year-old person dies, yet I did feel sad. Not the kind of sad that elicits an outburst of emotion, but more a subtle sorrow. She had been my neighbor for the past 6 years so I saw her all the time. I didn’t have any regrets, or anything I wish I had said. I felt like I had closure, and genuinely learned a lot about life through her process of dying. In a way it’s a great gift to experience the end of someone’s life. It’s of course hard to watch them physically and mentally deteriorate, but at the same time I had this rare exposure to what she thought about during her final months.

    My grandmother’s mind was totally preoccupied with feelings about relationships – she had 6 kids, 9 grandchildren, 2 husbands, many friends, and a big family. She reminisced constantly, both about good times and bad, and didn’t care about much else. When we are dying I think we tend to think most about how we treated those we love. When our minds go lucid, memories of people are what will traverse our consciousness. Yes we all have ambitions, ways we distract ourselves, superficial concerns… but it’s our connection to others that will have the greatest pull in the end. The more strings you tie with care, the more your heart will feel secure as the spaces between the beats grows longer.

    The Munch would visit her great-grandmother a lot during her final months. Munch wasn’t fazed by my grandmother’s oxygen mask, the wheel chair, the fading ability to communicate, or her increasingly frail physique. Munch was lighthearted about it all, and saw my grandmother as a “legend that would always live on – like ‘My Little Pony’.” A week after the death my friend asked Munch how she felt about it. Munch just looked into her eyes for almost a full minute then said, “I didn’t want her to die.” I think we all feel that way. We knew death was going to happen, but we didn’t want it to.

    The death hung over me for the rest of the film shoot, but in a way it also protected me. I didn’t really have to process it because I was so overwhelmed with the task at hand. When the movie was done, it was like I had given birth, and lost a lot of blood. I was exhausted and all my life force had been drained out of me, but unfortunately I didn’t have any placenta to make soup out of ☹

    The crew was gone and because no one was around to film me I started to have a hard time appreciating life. Everything felt so meaningless. I would watch my daughter run through a field of wild flowers at sunset and feel so much regret that I wasn’t recording it. What was the point of this beauty if I didn’t have my camera to capture the moment!!?? Look at all these sun flares – am I just supposed to remember this perfect lighting and not show it to any one else while I edit in more reds??!!!

    I knew I was supposed to “relax” and take it easy, but it’s not relaxing for me to relax. It takes work!! I would sit outside under a shady tree and spend the entire time waiting for it to be over. It was really stressful.

    I figured I should go see my hippy healer and get some healing done. That would put my soul at ease right? And maybe that would have been a good idea, but instead my healer told me I had parasites. PS…. THAT WAS NOT WHAT I WANTED TO HEAR!! She put gave me some herbs and I left her place looking forward to shitting out worms for the next few weeks.

    I took my new age tinctures and went to bed dreading the next morning. It was a living nightmare – wondering what was going to crawl out of my anus the next day. Every bowel excretion I envisioned an army of critters having a mass exodus out my ass. I was so afraid to look… but OF COURSE I DID ANYWAY! So far it’s been two weeks and I still haven’t seen any serpents in my feces, but maybe that’s because I didn’t poke around enough.

    Look at these fucking sun flares!!!!!!! And am I seriously supposed to drive around now and not have a reflector to catch the light?

    toni abner elise family filming

    abner filming toni

    July 21, 2016 • Musings • Views: 1169

  • Why Being Around Your Parents as an Adult Sometimes Sucks

    One of the hardest things about the holidays is being an adult, and being around your parents. No matter how great your relationship is with them, there are moments when you are going to feel infantilized, triggered, or irrationally full of rage. This is often solved with the right amount of bourbon, Xanax, and preferably pure MDMA – but one can’t always get their hands on such things… mainly because grandma keeps hogging all the drugs.

    If you think about it, most of your life with your parents, or with your kids, is when you are adults. Childhood isn’t really that long. So the rest of that time is seeing and treating each other as peers. Yet that can be challenging when looking at your now grown up child and remembering them as that baby who once shat in their own hand and ate it. You know too much about your kid to take them seriously as an adult.

    This holiday my parents were gone, but because of Munch’s surgery, I spent a week with them in Boston before Thanksgiving… which is the LONGEST we have been around each other for 17 years. Okay granted this was a time of stress and anxiety because of Munch’s medical journey, so that may have colored things a bit. Yet I did come to a MAJOR realization of why this adult parent-child dynamic can be so challenging.

    My mom and I have a lot in common when it comes to our interests. We both enjoy walking in nature, talking about ourselves, and reading trashy magazines. We can bond over the fact that Scott Disick cheated on Kourtney Kardashian with not one, but TWO of her sisters. Yet we also are fundamentally different people. We have different moral inquiries, different views on life, and a different standard of what constitutes as dirty hair.

    Most of my time with my mom we got along really well, but there were a couple instances where we didn’t. In short it boiled down to two things. She thinking I was a total basket case for my life choices, and me thinking she was a judgmental bitch.

    We could have just swept those moments under the rug to join the other unsaid resentments of the past – yet instead we discussed what happened. From my mom’s perspective, she sometimes still sees me as that teenage girl who thought it was a good idea to do acid at an Allman Brother’s concert then drive to a rave. Or that girl in my 20’s who would often drink so much that I would end up puking at a diner, then leaving on the back of hot guy’s motorcycle to later get dropped off at the apartment building I moved out of 2 years earlier. Yeah I get it. I had a time in life when I was a little reckless. Yet a lot has changed since then, because I wear helmets now.

    Toni: The thing with you mom is that you go so far in your thinking to see my behavior as questionable, and judge said questionable behavior. Yet you don’t take the next step and ask yourself “why is she acting that way.”

    My Mom: Yeah I can see that. But I think I just have PTSD from that time in your life.

    Toni: You know, as parent it is really easy to see the parts of your kid that you like, and take credit for those aspects of who they are. Yet when you see parts of them you don’t like as much, we often want to say “oh well, that’s just they way they are.” Or “that’s their personality.” We want to see our nurturing as the reason for their good, and their nature as the reason for their bad. But we are equally responsible for all parts of our kids. Social conditioning isn’t just about shaping the positive, but also the negative.

    My Mom: Haha. That is so true. But seriously that was just you being you and I am the reason why you are okay.

    Me and my mom during my “questionable behavior” period… (PS the top picture is my mom and dad in the late 80’s… pretty sure it’s the best thing ever)

    toni and mom hughie party

    November 30, 2015 • Family Drama, Parenting, Relationships • Views: 1198

  • Why I am The Way I am : The Shredder Saga

    I feel like there are probably moments when you read my writing, and then perhaps ask yourself, “why?” Just “why is this girl like this?” Why did she have to say that? Yes it is warm, but there’s no need to compare going outside to “walking inside a moist vagina.” Just unnecessary imagery.

    Was she dropped on her head? Did her mother smoke while she was in utero? (Answer: yes) What is wrong with her?

    I think I was just born into an eccentric family. We are all a bit wacky in our own ways, and I believe the email chain I am about to share is pretty much the perfect explanation of who I am.

    Here is the context:

    In my Dad’s study, there are piles and piles and piles of paper. Kind of like the room of a mad scientist, but instead of test tubes, there is just LOTS of paper with Ancient Greek on it. So my dad decides he needs to clean his study, and the best way to do this, would be to shred all the paper.

    My dad then goes on line, and buys and industrial sized shredder. Keep in mind; my dad pays all his bills electronically. There really is nothing in his study that is worthy of shredding, and if there is, I am sure he could tear up that ONE piece of paper.

    Yet my dad insisted he needed this industrial sized shredder anyway.

    The shredder arrived, and weighed 250 pounds. My dad, who was in Greece, assumed from MILES AWAY that this GIANT MACHINE could be brought up the FIVE flights of stairs to his office by the handy man Tony Farma. My brother interjected, and explained that the shredder is wayyyyy too heavy for that. My brother’s solution is that the shredder stay in the dinning room, yet my mom – who is German and very particular about aesthetic – would not be pleased. An industrial sized shredder in her dining room does not exactly fit into her taste palate.

    My brother, however, had grown very attached to the shredder, and insisted that it remain in the dining room. It was now a part of our family, and one can’t just go around abandoning industrial sized shredders.

    Enjoy

    Title of Email : Applied archaeology on the shredder
    Author: My brother

    Dear Dad,

    So there is this huge heavy box that is sitting in the front hall. I
    think what must have happened is Tony Fama intercepted it but then could
    not deal with it because it is really heavy and it would seem it would
    need a team of ox to do anything about. I recommend it just sit there
    for a while. But what I am trying to tell you here is that it is a
    multiple person job moving this huge box anywhere. But I like having it
    around because it makes me think of you. But it is the kind of thing
    that if Mom saw this, she’d shit. Dad, I love you. Son

    My Dad’s response

    Dear Laszlo,

    I swear, your Mom gave her blessings to this. If the shredder can fit
    into my 5th floor study, near the wooden ladder that goes to the roof,
    then we have a plan. That’s what I pitched to your Mom, and she liked the
    idea.
    Love,
    Dad

    My Brother’s response

    OK Dad this sounds good.

    But what I am saying is this thing seems like
    really heavy. So, I am thinking that it might be a good idea for you and
    mom to lovingly look at it. What happens if it doesn’t fit? Then one
    just has a huge shredder that has been opened and doesn’t fit anywhere.
    Can I just propose that the thing sit around until there is a plan? I
    just don’t want to have that much to do with it but I assure you that I
    pat the huge box lovingly each time I walk past it. Dad, I am cc-ing
    Mom.

    My Dad’s Response

    Dearest Laszlo and hi to your Mom
    Actually, our dear Niloo did some very good detective work on the size of
    the li’l critter.
    Actually, I shouldn’t call it “li’l”, but it’s still supposed to fit
    upstairs. It’s just the box that makes
    it seem so monstrously big. See what I mean?
    But you should not have anything to do with it. Tony will I’m sure hire
    some guys to carry the critter upstairs.
    And just think of all the fun I will have shredding so much junk.
    Lots and lots of shredded paper will go to the trash.
    I can hardly wait.
    Love,
    Dad

    My Brother’s response

    Dear Dad,
    Please know that I would walk through Hades with you to make sure this
    shredder finds a home in 8* Revere Street. I was just worried that it
    would not fit anywhere. But if you grant me your assurance that this
    device will in fact fit, I am happy just to think of many happy hours to
    come of you shredding things. I love you so much and I am sorry if I
    caused undue alarm with respect the dimensions of the device.
    Son Continue Reading

    July 20, 2015 • Family Drama • Views: 1416

  • Even Though I Love You I Don’t Always Like You

    We all love our families – or at least we feel the cultural pressure to say we do, and honor the obligation by pretending. I have an to uncle whom I sign off emails saying, “love Toni,” but in truth I think he’s kind of a dick. I have cousins I adore, and then one I think is a mega tool. Even though I guess there is a general aura of love around my family, I sure as shit don’t enjoy all their company.

    When someone is in your life, and probably never going anywhere, you can feel love for them – but that doesn’t mean you always want to be around them. Some of my best loving I do from afar. The less I have to deal with your bullshit, the better I can appreciate my love for you.

    Even the people I know I love a lot… I sometimes imagine the joy I would feel murdering them. Not the consequence of their actually being dead – just the initial satisfaction of choking the life out of them.

    Love may be unconditional, but liking someone is not.

    I LOVE my child until the ends of the multiverse – but I don’t always like her.

    Sometimes being around the people you love the most is the most annoying. When you really care about someone, the emotional juxtaposition of being sincerely irritated by them makes your feelings even more extreme. With my kid, my eternal love is so boundless that when she really pisses me off, I want to throw her into the outer edges of the atmosphere – and then toss those damn Frozen sneakers that she was making me look for right after her.

    I love The Munch everyday of my life regardless of her behavior, but the most exciting moments between us are when I really like her. Now that she is almost 5, The Munch is almost like a real person. She is less driven by her base animal instincts, and no longer does things like scream, “I hate you” because I wouldn’t open the box of cookies while driving – I was too busy texting. JUST KIDDING! I was looking at Facebook.

    As The Munch is growing up and getting to be more governed by her own moral compass, I have come to observe that she is a really good person. She cares about her friends’ happiness, and is always willing to share her leotards. She made me a Mother’s Day gift, and was nice to me all day because according to her “It’s important to do things for moms – they are so busy all the time doing things for their kids.” And the last time we had a picnic, she picked me flowers and offered me the BIGGEST strawberry.

    The Munch’s personality is also really developing, and I am learning more and more what I like about her every day – mostly how many things we have in common. We both are really into music, dancing, and of course trying to make people laugh. She tells amazing jokes like “Knock knock. (Who’s There?) A fart on your head because you just made a smelly poop.” I mean, that is some real comedy gold right there.

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    May 13, 2015 • 4 years old, Family Drama, Mommyhood, Parenting, Relationships • Views: 1313

  • A Distraction From Life

    You know what blows? When you are really excited for something to happen, and it doesn’t go down the way you had planned. It is like experiencing emotional blue balls. You just want to release your joy all over the back of existence, but then some metaphoric knock pounds down the door to cock-block your bliss.

    Disappointment is probably the most dissatisfying emotion. At least if you are angry or sad there is some spice too it. You can punch walls, or weep until your eyes look like Bill Clinton’s. Yet when you are disappointed all you do is turn yourself inside out like dyslexic calzone – oozing cheesy self-pity all over the place, but too despondent to spread the sauce of your agony. There is a pathetic flavor to disappointment. You are inherently admitting anticipation that was squelched like a weed in a soybean farm sprayed with pesticides. There is nothing cool about being let down, because it shows you cared in the first place.

    Over the weekend I was going to host a dance retreat so some friends and I could spend our days dancing our asses off. Not in a twerking kind of way where we bounced our asses until they created so much friction they combusted, but in a sweet way. I like having women’s weekends where we eat copious amounts of kale, drink an absurd amount of tea, and talk incessantly about how we don’t need men – because if we discuss them constantly that means we totally aren’t thinking about them am I right?

    The first night I led a yoga class where we explored our 2nd Chakra. You know how bitches are all about opening up their hips and shit. That evening, while washing homemade hummus off the dishes, I told my friend I was going to bail on the morning Kundalini yoga adventure.

    My friend Sarah: NO! You have to go. That is part of the whole plan.
    Toni: I don’t know… it is just so early. I will just meet you guys back here when yo are done.
    My friend Sarah: Dude… it is one morning. We are all giving and we are all sharing our talents. Don’t be a wimp.

    So I womanned up and went to the class. The thing about Kundalini yoga, is that it is all about moving energy and going into the crevices of the body to address core issues. It is more intense than other kinds of Yoga, which is why it is both amazing and terrifying. Not everyday you are psychically prepared to look your inner demons in the face and have a conversation about your damaged childhood.

    I am pretty sure that on this Saturday morning, I just wasn’t in the mental state to get to the bottom of my self-loathing and inner rage. We did all these positons and exercises that felt equally freeing and constricting. As soon as we left the class and I got into my car, I knew my back was totally screwed up. I was like “FUCK! Who am I kidding? I am white! I am not supposed to face my emotions, but repress them deep inside my body until I eventually die of a heart attack. That is the American way!”

    We got back to my house and I tried to do the ballet class – but I could hardly move. I forced myself to continue through the crippling pain for 30-minutes because that is what New England people do, but then I had to lay down and admit defeat. I had fucked my shit up hard core. I could feel it in my back and my hips – if I was a rapper this could have been a pretty sweet Hip Hop song.

    I tried to stretch to release the spasms, but it wasn’t working. I fell down the staircase of frustration because I knew that my dance retreat was ruined. There was no way I was going to have spontaneous recovery and pirouette my way out of this. All my excitement about the weekend was transformed into feeling very very very sorry for myself.

    One of my friends is OF COURSE a hippy healer girl, so she came over to do some voodoo on me.

    Hippy Healer Friend: I am getting a message that part of your pain has to do with your daughter. Not sure exactly what, but that is the information I am receiving. Maybe some issues of violence?

    Ummmm…. WHAT THE DICK!? The last thing I wanted was some peaceful yoga hippy girl to think I was beating my child or something!!?

    Toni: Ummmm violence?
    Hippy Healer Friend: Well it doesn’t have to be literal violence. It could be emotional. Or spiritual. Anyway… don’t get attached to any of this. Just something to think about.
    Toni: Uhhhh yeah okay…

    Not sure if you have ever tried to peacefully receive a healing while at the same time stressing out about what your healer thought of you. But let me tell you… it is NOT as relaxing as it sounds.

    I tried to think about why those were the messages this serene chick was getting about me. It just seemed so extreme?! I mean, I guess I had admitted to her the night before how I let The Munch eat ice cream for breakfast. I some how rationalized this because she also had green beans. The Hippy Healer girl also witnessed The Munch watching Snow White. Maybe in her pristine child-raising world where her daughter thinks raisins are candy and screen time refers to some mediation practice, exposing my child to Disney and vanilla flavored sugar was a type of violence?? Maybe Munch also casually mentioned how we eat meat too! BUT IT IS ORGANIC FLESH FROM A LOCAL FARM OKAY!!???

    I wasn’t exactly sure that my pain had to do with The Munch, and was more convinced it was my philosophic quandary regarding the futility of existence. This relentless knowing that no matter what life path I choose, it will be fraught with bullshit and the same patterns of consciousness that oppress me today. How regardless of my efforts, I will continually make the same mistakes while I swirl in a spiral of mediocrity. Come to think of it, I would much rather contemplate my relationship to The Munch than that shit!

    So I thought about my child, and how so often she can feel like a distraction from life. Yet in truth, she is not distracting me from my life. The Munch is my life. Maybe The Munch thinks I am not showing her that enough?? Perhaps she feels that our time spent together, I am too distracted from all my blaming her for being the distraction.

    I felt sad. Even though I can’t live my life where every second of everyday is devoted to my child, I still want her to feel valued. I decided we had to have a discussion about this so I could get to the bottom of my back pain … ummm I mean, be a good mother to my kid and figure out how she was feeling.

    Toni: Munch, you know how Mamma’s back hurts?
    The Munch: Yeah….
    Toni: Well, my friend says it is not physical. She says my spine feels aligned. She thinks it is an energetic block from something emotional.
    The Munch: What is emotional?
    Toni: Like my feelings? She thinks my back hurts because of my feelings. She told me it has something to do with our relationship. What do you think about that?
    The Munch: I don’t know. Maybe your back hurts because you dance too much. Maybe you should stop dancing because it is so boring for me.
    Toni: Ummm well I love dancing so that is not going to happen. But what do you think about our relationship. Do you think I am a good Mamma to you?
    The Munch: Well sometimes. You always say “no” to me when I want more chocolate.
    Toni: Okay “more” chocolate… fine. But I have to do that. Seriously. Are there things you want me to do different? Is there ways I could be a better Mamma to you?
    The Munch: I don’t know. Maybe we just have to take care of each other more.
    Toni: Okay. That sounds like a plan.

    The next day, because I was hurt, I couldn’t do anything but relax. As a result, The Munch and I ended up spending 7-hours playing together with ZERO interruptions. We didn’t even leave the room we were in. I didn’t touch my phone. We just hung out – and rationed out a banana with peanut butter to survive. It was like we were in a vortex. Usually some thing breaks up your day, like going on an errand, or having some sort of obligation to do. Yet we were in this black hole of togetherness that nothing could penetrate.

    Things got kind of weird at times, we laughed, we fought, and she pretended to be a baby as I swaddled her in a yoga blanket. But it was amazing to just be present with her. I am not sure we have been like that since she was first born and I was high on all the new mom hormones. So even though it sucked my back hurt and I couldn’t dance for my retreat, it created the space for this memorable moment with the most important person in my life.

    distraction-blog

  • Going Alone

    Going somewhere alone always feels semi daunting because I have to figure out how to impress people enough to make them want to talk to me. If have to go to a place where no one knows me, that means I somehow have to figure out a way to seduce people into wanting to get to know me! This is harder than you think considering my opening line is “what is your spirit animal?” I tend to instigate big talk rather than small, and not that many people respond well to my asking “what is your relationship with your mother like” four minutes after meeting.

    There is nothing more awkward then being with a bunch of people you don’t know while standing around with your thumb up your ass – come to think of it, that’s a bad habit I should probably break. That is the convenient thing about always having my kid around – when I don’t know anyone, I can hide behind my relationship with my child rather than looking like an outcast. See world, I am not alone praying someone will make me feel part of the group. I am just dealing with my kid’s needs to blow her nose, or cleaning up a wet fart. Children are the best distraction from social situations because I can seem really preoccupied even when I am not.

    Over the weekend my aunt was getting married, but my aunt is actually younger than me by 6 years! My dad’s father had a second marriage, as well as two daughters, who are my half aunts. I never got to meet my grandfather or his kids until I was 17 and finally met the oldest Juliana. Coincidently, she ended up at my school, and I would be like holy shit… that is my aunt! Juliana and I would always say “hi,” but we never got to know each other because she was freshman and I was a senior, and that would be just too crazy for school politics. Plus I was smoking a lot of pot at the time and watching very strange things on TV.

    Years later I met the younger sister Krissie because we were both living in New York, and found each other on Facebook. We became fast friends, and quickly realized how much we had in common. We loved to dance, we were both passionate about organic food, we looked similar, we had the same sense of humor and laughed when people tripped. We were family even though we had never had the chance to be that. I was so excited to get to know my aunts because even though they were technically in a different generation from me and my cousins, they were so many ways in which the Nagy girls were the same.

    Krissie’s wedding was a 6-hour drive from my house, so I ended up going by myself. When I was about fifteen minutes away from the final destination, I suddenly realized “holy fuck, I am not going to know one person at this wedding beyond Krissy and Juliana!!! How are they going to pay attention to me when Krissie is the bride and Juliana is the maid of honor! What about me!? Who is going to take care of me at this wedding?” Then I pulled over in a parking lot, put on my dress, squeezed into my tights, slapped on some makeup, and peed in the bushes because that is what big girls do.

    Once I got the ceremony site, I was immediately reminded that I really was alone. I stood there watching people talking to each other and debated what other orifice I could shove my thumb into when Krissie’s husband interrupted, and told me I could go inside and meet Krissie’s /Juliana’s mom. I gave my step-grandmother a hug, and she told me to go upstairs and hang with the bride because even at weddings I roll VIP. I was so grateful to have Krissie to talk to, but then she had to go get married so I was alone again. God… people can be so selfish.

    I couldn’t just spend the time looking at my phone as a social buffer acting like I had some really important messages coming in, because that would be insanely douchey. I had no choice but to stand there and pray someone would come pay attention to me. At one point I started talking to this couple, and the guy got a bug in his eye. He put sunglasses on to suffer in silence for a bit, but when he took them off, I could see the bug in the white of his eye! I was like “DUDE! There is a bug in your damn eyeball,” and he was all “I know get it out” and his girlfriend was like “Ew gross.” So I grabbed his face, and stuck my finger into his eye juice to slide the bug out. It was so disturbing that we laughed and laughed. I thought after this intimate moment meant we would be friends for life… family even… and I would be spending Thanksgiving with this lovely couple, but then they went to go get more hors d’oeuvres and totally forgot about me.

    But lucky for me, one of Krissie’s friends tucked my under her wing and introduced me to her all friends. Suddenly, I was part of a group of women who were these badass chicks from Red Hook Brooklyn. They sang in punk bands, made art, and wore funky clothes like purple fishnet tights. These ladies were my type of ladies. If we had been born 200 years earlier, we would have burnt at the stake or drowned with a wizard’s beard to prove we weren’t witches.

    Had I brought The Munch, or anyone with me for that matter, I wouldn’t have been as open to meeting new people. My desperate need to make friends helped facilitate the process because I was forced to put on my A game personality. Had I brought my kid, I probably would have spent the night talking to the other mom’s with young children about potty training and bedtimes. But because I was a lone wolf, I met these ladies who were ready to party and have fun. They were all done with their child rearing days so talked about grown up stuff – like astrology. When ever you go somewhere alone there is a risk that you will feel alone, and sometimes that happens. Yet if you don’t’ go and have adventures on your own they you will never find your self dancing the night away to old timey swing music with a bunch of sorceresses.

    (Here is me and my aunts and my new witchy women)
    alone-blog-(i)

    alone-blog-(i2)

    October 14, 2014 • Adventures, Mommyhood, Musings, Parenting • Views: 1167