Born into a conservative Italian-American family in Queens NYC with relations to Antonin Scalia, Mia was the proverbial black sheep even before she openly identified as a progressive feminist and secular naturalist, aka everything they never wanted her to be.
A child prodigy with an IQ in the top two percentile, Mia was enrolled in an advanced educational program through which she skipped ninth grade to begin her studies at the prestigious High School of Art & Design in Manhattan a year early. Within weeks of graduating A&D she was designing Disney graphics for merchandise sold at Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s. Throughout her college years, Mia would continue to juggle freelance graphic design work along with her studies.
In her junior year Mia was awarded a scholarship to study in Florence, Italy. It was an experience she would later describe as “indescribably fantastico”. In the weeks before classes began, Mia lived on a farm in Denmark. Immersed in an environment in which humans live symbiotically with nature left a lasting impression on Mia. In the middle of an apple orchard she had an epiphany that a sustainable lifestyle with access to natural resources is a fundamental human right, despite what she’d been taught through misogynistic fairy tales about what a female should and should not do with a ripe apple.
After earning her BFA in advertising/graphic design, Mia worked as a marketing creative in Manhattan before relocating to Los Angeles for post-graduate studies at UCLA. After completing the two-year Extension Program in Media, she’d go on to lend her creative and production skills to top Hollywood studios and media giants such as Amazon Studios, Netflix, Disney (again), Paramount, Warner Brothers, CBS, and Showtime.
What you find here is Mia’s own voice and creative expression. Her powerful storytelling, including scalariously cringeworthy tales of growing up in Queens NYC during the seventies and eighties, are starting to gain a following. Pee & Circumstance and other short stories were selected for virtual readings with an off-Broadway theater group, Rough & Ready.
Mia’s academic writing is gaining recognition as well. Attachment Parenting International published two of her articles on their website and in their newsletter.
Don’t worry, I’m not prolific enough to blow up your inbox.
That’s what I blurted out between sobs when I broke down in my therapist Kelly’s office. Ten years ago I was living the life of a desperate, overeducated urban housewife. All I needed was a reality show with gossipy cohorts. I’d moved back to NYC just in time for The Great Recession, slipping into financial dependency on an increasingly abusive partner, who misconstrued my lack of direction and deep-rooted emotional issues around procuring and managing resources, especially in traditional office environments, as a gold-digging scheme against him.
“I tried being nice.” my partner said, as he moved us from a sunny, centrally-located apartment with a private balcony to way over on the far reaches of town, into a housing project with low ceilings, paper-thin walls, and a ground-floor view of the parking lot. In case you’re wondering, an upstairs neighbor randomly blasting house music is not a cure for depression. This moving-on-down came despite his six-figure salary with enviable job security. Deceiving himself into thinking he was giving me necessary “tough love”, my partner was punishing me with extra vitriol fueled by painful/turbulent relationships with females from his past.
I totally get the frustration of being with someone who’s not holding their own financially (I dated a drummer once who wanted me to play mommy for an endless encore.) but the only two emotionally-evolved options are to be kind and supportive until they come around, or to walk away when you’ve had enough. Being emotionally/verbally abusive and humiliating them in front of mutual friends and random people is a sociopathic display of your emotional issues. My partner also exploited my conditioning to be pro-social to a fault, and to assume responsibility for his attacking behavior towards me. I’ve come to realize that our biggest, deepest problem was the fact that my partner did not feel lovable at his core. He was playing a sick game of confirmation bias: testing whether I would stick around in a crappy apartment while he withheld resources from me. Then, if and when I left, he could feel justified for his cruel treatment of me. “See! I told you she was only with me for my money.” For my part, I had been dysfunctional drawn to his brooding nature, way back when we started dating in our twenties. I sensed a hurt little boy in there, just like my mother sensed in my stepfather. My prior trauma, my patriarchal cult, and my ego misguided my nurturing proclivities to think I’d be the one who could and should fix him.
On our way home from a stage performance that I directed as part of an artist-in-residency program in Hoboken, my partner triangulated with my brother for a cheap-shot at me for not having a real job. Earlier that evening I’d been on stage during the Q&A that followed the performance, discussing my approach to directing, and challenges I had overcome in the process. I’d bet that my being in the spotlight, even one that I shared with several other women, really bugged my partner. His insanely competitive brain couldn’t let me bask in the afterglow of a successful event, even for just a few hours, so he attacked my achilles heel. My partner’s verbal jab triggered my brother’s protective response. My brother simply laughed off my partner’s cheap-shot, even though it had been framed as a question.
That night in bed I was jolted awake by a nightmare in which a snake I’d been walking alongside coiled up to strike my ankle. The dream was so vivid that I had actually kicked my leg behind me in my sleep. Too shaken to fall back asleep, I found myself in the kitchen staring at the lineup of helpers I’d enlisted to get me through the night: a bowl of Cheerios, a bottle of Pepto-Bismol, and a bottle of Godiva Liquor. The Cheerios were for the recalcitrant inner child in me who’d been preventing me from adulting fully. My partner was the reason I could afford the Godiva Liquor, and also the reason that I needed the Pepto-Bismol.
Monday morning I was in Kelly’s office for the mental health version of an urgent care visit. In response to my outburst of utter despair she was professionally and morally obligated to ask if I had been contemplating suicide.
Thank Gaia I find human behavior endlessly fascinating, and was committed to understanding how my crib trauma and patriarchal cult had affected me. My proclivity toward psychology balanced out the exhausting emotional upheaval that is par for the course of dialectical behavior therapy. If not for my weekly sessions, the gentle guidance of Kelly, and for the fact that it had been drilled into me since I was a little girl that it would be a cardinal sin for me to leave behind any kind of mess for someone else to clean up, I might not be here today to blog about this bleak chapter in my life.
If you take away one thing from this besides the fact that if your partner shows up in your dreams as a coiled up snake then it’s time for an exit strategy, make it that callous, damaged humans who feel unlovable at their core cannot heal until they take the first critical step of looking inward. Unfortunately, there’s a formidable Catch-22 at play, as their visceral sense of unlovability prevents them from doing just that. Furthermore, normalized narcissism and the ancient archetype of an infallible super-human as the ultimate masculine energy compounds this problem. As long as callous, damaged humans focus on obtaining and hoarding resources, and being enabled to do so, they can usually deflect until their last breath. Too many misguided, nurture-leaning humans believe they are helping such damaged humans by forever showing them the good in humanity, without employing proper discretion or leveraging their nurturing power to demand that the callous ones do the necessary introspection to heal and evolve emotionally. To you nurturing folks I implore you to find a way out and apply your nurturing energy toward worthy causes. Enabling callous humans who simply cannot look inward due to trauma compounded by cultural norms is an epic waste of two of your most precious resources: time and energy.
Dissecting my issues around resource procurement and independent adulting has led me to some mind-blowing discoveries, not only about myself and my birth tribe, but about humanity in general. For example, I’ve realized that the modern paradigm for resource procurement, in which a great majority of adult humans are separated from natural resources and reduced to a child-like state of dependency on remote resource hoarders who view them as little more than a faceless placenta, is unnatural and regressive.
I lived this scenario as an infant and toddler, knowing instinctively that I’d been placed in a precarious position, despite my mother’s nonchalance, entranced as she was by contrived worlds being played out in our intimate space via the television. My distress around being confined away from her (kept in my crib, strapped in by a harness at times) was compounded by simultaneously be removed from natural resources in a basement apartment in Queens, NYC. This distress was appropriate and justified, as is the angst of humans who are stuck on the proverbial hamster wheel in big city life, or worse still, out on the streets surrounded by concrete and steel. Collectively as the civilized world, we are losing out on a precious resource: humans’ full potential. The planet is paying dearly for this disconnect as well. Joni Mitchell was right: We’ve got to get ourselves back to the Garden.
Let me know you’re out there, wontcha? Say hello and opt-in to be the first kid on your block to read my next insight or scalariously cringeworthy story, likely quarterly. Don’t worry, I’m not prolific enough to blow up your inbox with emails. MB
My stories are part of a broader mission to help restore the “human” in humanity. Your support enables me to continue my work toward that end. Let’s swing the pendulum away from normalized narcissism and inhumane environments. When you chip in, there’s a place to share your thoughts on my stories or this cause.