Body Health, Humor


Over the last week, I’ve made the same (probably unfunny by this point, but if there’s one thing I admire about myself, it’s my ability to commit) joke. “I’m too hot not to go to that!” “It’s hard being the hottest person at work.” (It is, by the way). “I’m hot and funny.” (this was to a Hinge match who has since not messaged me back, so maybe not ideal).

This is a common caricature I cloak myself in, the overconfident and underwhelming deluded. I do it because I think it’s funny, but I also do it as a way of jumping the shark.

If I’m making a joke or having a laugh about being hot, then if you don’t think I’m hot – well, I already made fun of myself. And at the same time, it operates as a tacit desire for approval: if you didn’t think I was hot, then you would say something or make a face or vomit. It’s also socially unacceptable to actively believe and proclaim that you’re good-looking. You get painted as vain, self-centered or out of touch.

But something has been happening: for some reason, making the joke this past week, instead of betraying my lack of confidence or my paranoia, has actually, weirdly, made me feel hotter. It’s having the opposite effect it usually does. Usually, when I say something like that, it like twists inside me, making me feel slightly more insecure as I gauge the reaction on the other person’s face.

It has a lot to do with context.

In the past week, I’ve been thinking a lot about high school, and the person I was in high school. In high school, I was a skinny, gawky kid with bad skin and no eyebrows. I dressed like a Day-Glo clown hooker, and I thought I looked amazing.

I’ve got a five-year reunion coming up in a few weeks, and I really seesawed between wanting to go and wanting to skip it. But one of the primary motivators for me wanting to go is, simply, that I look way better now than I did then. My skin’s in a Good Place™ and I like what my hair’s been doing. I’ve been exercising in new and different ways, and I’ve finally managed to find a style that doesn’t make me look like Raggedy Andy’s loose cousin. I’ve been looking better, and suddenly calling myself “hot” doesn’t ring in my ears like a joke.

If vanity seems like a thin reason to see old high school classmates, then I’m really doing a bad job of explaining how good-looking I am now. It’s imperative I get myself to the people.

I’ve also found a good psychiatrist, and she’s forcing me to confront how my jokes are thin (thin, honey I’ll show you thin!) attempts at masking my own cracked insecurities. I’m also realizing how bad making those jokes about myself, like calling myself a Day-Glo clown hooker or Raggedy Andy in this post, could (and do) end up making me feel worse instead of better.

I’ve realized (something probably everyone else has realized) that me making jokes do nothing for protecting my vulnerabilities. And instead of jumping the shark, I’m flinging myself to the wolves.

Confidence is, honestly, the most attractive quality someone can have. Everyone I’ve been involved with has had this raw confident energy and that (mixed with the large inheritances) was a huge pull for me. My making these jokes might feel good in the short-term, but they seriously chip away at my confidence when I’m reinforcing to myself that I’m not good-looking.

I always make the joke that if I were confident, then I would be a true monster. But honey, this must be where the Wild Things are, because I wanna be a monster!

Of course, this post has sat on my dashboard for a week, so when I started this I felt amazing, and now I feel not-so-confident. But I’m gonna put it up anyway, despite the messiness of this writing and despite me feeling like I could crack a mirror.

I’m going to be better about accepting compliments, and making active attempts to dole out compliments of my own.

And let it be known, that one time a hot, drunk straight™ told me that it “wasn’t my looks that were keeping me single.” Hurtful, but maybe I’m too hot to care!

Life, Rambles


written months ago. i’m more chill now (that’s a lie! but i am doing better). 

It’s weird to feel like you’re not owed your feelings. Like they’re bubbling up into the wrong well, the wrong place, the wrong time.

Today, I saw my high school crush while at work. I work in retail, and he was checking out at a cash register where I was headed. I don’t wear glasses at work, so I only saw the shape of him – the quilted, corduroy-collar jacket and washed blue jeans – and felt something inside me sicken. I’ve had this fear ever since I started working, that I would run into people that I know. It’s not him – it’s not him – it is him – I realize as I come closer.

I keep my head turned away as I take the register next to his and start making bags. When I say something, to someone else, his head pivots and I’m filled with cold-quick-dread. He calls my name, and I look at him. The entire reaction lasts maybe a minute, him asking a question as a customer comes to my register and my attention is split neatly like an atom.

“How are you? What are you doing?” he asks. He’s lost weight, and the bags under his eyes have carved crescents into his cheeks. In a second I see his everything and nothing – the hair, cut carelessly, that hovered between gold and brown.

“Um, I’m here,” I answer. “And I’m freelancing.” I say this as the female customer chatters and puts her items on the register. “I’ll – I’ll let you get back to it,” he says and I nod helplessly, something that is severe and sad and wanting and needing to be closed.

My hands shake as I start bagging her items, answering numbly to her questions. I spend two hours at the register, the shakes subsiding slowly. I pull apart everything I said, and can hardly even remember what he said, or his face. The numbness heats to a thousand-thousand emotions. Embarrassment that this is where he found me. Guilt that I’m embarrassed. Sadness that I can still be affected like this. Anger that I could be affected. Vanity that our first meeting after five years is when I’m sullen, unshaven and unshowered. Vanity that I wasn’t glamorous, or wearing something cute, or that I didn’t tell him I’m a writer. And the deepest, most unmovable anger at myself for being upset, when I know that our seeing each other did nothing for him.

We haven’t spoken in five years, our last interaction being me telling him that I was in love with him, and him telling me I was “brave.” That is a type of shame that still prickles, that even though I offered it willingly and (I told myself) expecting nothing else, that his response was not effusive love, or hate or indifference. It was admiration. There is nothing more sexless than admiration.

I didn’t think of that when I saw him – I was that when I saw him. Suddenly I was seventeen and boiling with angst and hurt and willful ignorance. I would not trade going back to high school for anything after this – I’ve romanticized the forcefulness of teenage emotions now that I’m on medication, feeling that it was a closed chapter. Apparently it just takes a lit match to torch my sense of even-keeledness and reignite every teenaged tumult.

And above all was this sense that I was not entitled to this reaction. I did not date him; he did not love me; I don’t even know if he was gay. We were not star-crossed lovers; we were hardly even friends. I am not deserved these emotions; I have not earned this reaction.

I am, I know and I hope, over him. But my crush on him was so wrapped up in a thousand other things; family issues and body issues and high school and the future and my sexuality and my depression. He is so charged for me, the light switch for every maelstrom I had in high school and thought that I left behind.

I’ve begun to slowly parse my high school experience, understanding how those early years affected me and affect me and will affect me. So I know that my reaction was the culmination and nexus of a hundred small cuts – I’m struggling to find a psychiatrist, I’m tackling grad school education, I’m redefining friendships, I’m not excelling in my field. I’m trying to figure out what post-grad looks like for me.

And that this, the navel of my high school experience, could turn up in a shock and affect me so is unsettling and sad and mean. That I wasn’t over it and that I was in it still without even realizing. That I felt this desperate need to prove to him that I was worth something. That I could be so obsessive in that same way I was when I would Google his name so often that clicking the search bar summoned it without even typing a single letter.

There’s this doubleness – of feeling the emotions as if they are both mine and someone else’s. They are and they aren’t, because I’m not that kid anymore. But in a way, graduating feels like it’s stripped me of that confidence I built in clusters. I’m wayward now; I’m figuring it out. In college, I had classes and friends and a schedule and parties. Now, I have the wide expanse of almost limitless options that do nothing but overwhelm me.

I’m sad, I guess, for a lot of things. “Sad” feels like the smallest and sparest of terms to use, but it also feels the truest. When you boil down all these conflicting emotions, I imagine that there is a small bone of sad clunking to the bottom of the pot.

Rambles, Thinkpiece


In a lot of ways, I’m so similar to Ariel in The Little Mermaid. Like her, I have red hair, blue eyes and a tail. My first crush was Prince Eric (hasn’t changed), and I love lounging on rocks. And like Ariel, sis, I don’t really have a voice right now!

Not literally: I’ve got a voice that has been described as “melodious” and/or “gay,” and it’s served me well. I’m talking about my writing voice. It’s a large part of why I’ve been so lax about posting. Ever since graduating, I’ve feel well and truly lost as to what my post-grad voice sounds like.

In college, I operated under a near-blind and almost entirely undue amount of confidence. Really, looking back, it’s astounding that I didn’t get hit by a car or fall into a river. I was so cocky, you guys. So cocky.

I wrote with the vigor of someone who had not yet felt the sting of a thousand-thousand job rejections and who has not had to answer the question, “So…what are you doing?” with pained laughter until eyes are averted and the question is glossed over.

In college, I assumed – without any proof – that my voice was winsome and inviting, a tone that would remain immortal. And while I will remain immortal – I’ve been pretty much guaranteed that – I don’t think I took into account that people, and their ensuing tones and beliefs, change and adapt.

And even nearly a year later – gulp – I’m realizing that I didn’t allow myself the space to grow, or the gentleness that growing and changing, and being lost, is okay.

There are a lot of reasons why my tone has changed. First, it would be naïve and impossible to ignore the fact that I advertise this blog on my resume, and potential employers would stumble upon it regardless if they Google my name. Well, they’ll have to go through a few search pages (there’s other Danny McCarthy’s but none are as hot as me, thank god) but eventually they’ll get there. So with that is the pressure of Am I writing in the right way and Is this the right thing to say and What will people think. That didn’t factor into my writing in college because, you know, delusion.

Second, is that I’ve been living my life and that’s changed how I think about things. It’s impossible not to evolve (ask any Pokémon, sis!), and it’s been a challenge to channel everything that’s happening into a cohesive, passionate tone. Ambivalence doesn’t sell, and I’ve felt dangerously close to ambivalent about a lot of things lately.

And third, my tone has changed because I’ve been kinda going through it. Graduating and job-searching and graduate school applications have shaken my confidence in a major way. Before I graduated, I was a Boston 8 with the confidence of a telemarketer, and now I’m a New York 6 with the confidence of the first baker eliminated on Great British Bake Off.

In a lot of ways, I’m navigating the unknown, and the unknown makes it difficult to suss out what to share and what to keep private. Things have bigger stakes now; it’s just not wondering if I’ve pissed off someone by blowing up their spot or weirding someone out by waxing poetic about the way their voice leans. I’m selling the brand of me, and honey people are not buying it – not even the free trial!

But I’d like to get back to that place. Not the cosseted, unaware spot, but the place where I am so brimming with a desire to write that other people’s perceptions of it are a distinct second thought. I’d like to feel more steady in my writing, if just for the fact that writing is how I process everything that happens in my life. It’s quite literally my lifeline and my method for understanding everything.

And I lied – I’m a New York 7.

2018, Politics


“When your old-ass parent is like, ‘I don’t know how to send an iMessage,’ and you’re just like, ‘Give me the fucking phone and let me handle it.’ Sadly, that’s what we have to do with our government; our parents don’t know how to use a fucking democracy, so we have to.”

A few weeks ago, I read a profile of David Hogg on The Outline. Hogg is seventeen and, along with Emma González, one of the loudest voices for gun control in the aftermath of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which left 17 people dead.

I found the article after a lot of conservative outlets had been circulating a rumor that Hogg and González were “crisis actors,” people paid to pretend that they have been in the shooting. In the profile, Hogg comes across as brittle, scathing, running on anger and entirely exhausted. And as I was reading the profile and watching the attached video, I found myself wondering what happens when to Hogg, or González, or anyone who survived the Parkland shooting or any other gun shooting, when the cameras go off and the lights shut down and the anger diminishes for a moment.

They’re all subsisting on anger and rage – rightfully – and I thought about how desperately sad it is that after this trauma, they’re not allowed to just sit and cry and recover. Because of the situation they’re in, the situation we put them in, these kids are not, and cannot, be kids. They have to be advocates; they have to be warriors. In stripping them of their safety and their friends and their lives, we’ve also stripped them of their right to grieve.

When David said the above line, about the phone, it made sense to me. Gun massacres are becoming increasingly common in America, and the news cycle is always the same. It happens, we react, the news churns for a while and then, inevitably, everyone moves on. These kids are fighting so hard to stop that from happening, because as soon as we move on, we are signing the death warrants for someone else. The fact that it’s a month on, and we’re still seeing action from the students is not just impressive, it’s unprecedented.

They’ve witnessed the adults in their lives, the adults in government, refuse to protect them, choose guns and money over them. And so they have to protect themselves, advocate for themselves. It’s beautiful in its own way, but it’s disgusting that we’re asking children to take up the fight for gun control. And it’s disgusting how people have vilified them for asking for life; how people have gone after Hogg and claimed it’s fair game, how someone called Emma González a “skinhead.” How people derided the school walkouts today as an “excuse” to skip school. That people cannot have the empathy or the willingness to understand is astounding but not surprising.

These kids shouldn’t have to do all this, but they are because the adults refuse to do anything. Give them the fucking phone.

Essay, LGBTQ, Life, Love & Romance, Millennials, Movies, Thinkpiece


I watched Call Me By Your Name on a flight back from Amsterdam recently (brag!). And whether it was the combination of airplane red wine and altitude, or perhaps a human, beating heart, I was so deeply affected by the viewing that I’ve floated in a fog the last few days, one that I’ve characterized as a “gay funk.”

A gay funk is a peculiar and particular kind of funk for me – and trust, I’ve got plenty of funk genres. It comes from a place of mixed happiness and sadness – the font of queerdom, the well of homosexuality.

I’m not going to get into it here – for a multitude of reasons, including that you are not paying me, sis, and also I doubt my psychiatrist would recommend that I do it – but I’ve spent the last few months coming to terms with the fact that a lot of my high school experience was fucked-up, and painful, and distinctly not okay. It’s hard in a lot of ways, to recharacterize something after the fact, but I’ve felt lighter for it.

So the idea of watching a movie that essentially splays out the past traumas I’ve been dealing with – youth and queerness and masculinity and love – sent red flares in my vision and, if I’m being honest, I actively avoided seeing the movie. But with the stretch of eight hours ahead of me and nothing to do but sit, I finally relented.

It also comes from a very legitimate place of cynicism. Queer men, particularly gay, white men, are luckier than others in our community in the fact that we have had more and varied representation in the media. But still, the idea of a movie that depicted my experience made me wary and scared. We get so few chances, and I didn’t want one to be squandered. I wanted to remain unseen.

But in a similar way to Lady Bird, Call Me By Your Name truthfully and honestly depicted shades of my life in ways that felt like a tribute, rather than an exploitation.

It was painful to watch, Call Me By Your Name, but it was a curious pain because I felt it lancing me softly and beautifully. I felt parts of me uncoil, spirals of sadness that have been clamped up for so long. I was sad watching the movie, and jealous in ways, and unjealous in others.

Surprise, surprise, but I did not have a love story like Elio and Oliver’s in my high school experience. I had one, very intense and unrequited love – in the way that only seventeen-year-old closeted kids can love – but I related to the breathless, heartsick trill of their relationship. And honestly, I can’t ignore the fact that Armie Hammer is of the same mold as my high school crush: blonde and strappingly all-American.

So much of the romance in my life has been wrapped up with shame, longing, sadness and guilt, and that what I felt the movie portrayed so honestly. How love is propelled by a desire to satiate your own loneliness, quell the turmoil and the self-sabotaging desire to jump. Despite growing up in a world that was growing more and more tolerant of being gay, I don’t recall any positive representation of queer love in my childhood. I had no interactions with gay people, had no inkling that they could be thriving adults.

Watching Call Me By Your Name invoked a sadness similar to the first time I read Giovanni’s Room, sadness that our experience of love is so often colored by pain. I know that this can be a universal experience, but it feels particularly like the nexus of queerness. It’s sad, but it’s also comforting; that we’re a part of a lineage and history that extends beyond your singular, mortal self, despite that mantle being so wrought with pain.

Hence the gay funk: so many of the queer people I know didn’t get to have clean, cut-and-dry first experiences. They were tainted by who we were, and how the world treated us. So watching Call Me By Your Name made me viciously jealous of a tenet of teenhood that I missed out on. The movie made me sad for the kid that I was. The kid who was robbed of so many things, so many experiences. For all the love that I did have, there was so much love spilled on the ground, wastefully draining away. I’m sad for what he had to go through, for what he didn’t realize he was going through, and for what he would be going through.

But the movie made me happy in a lot of ways, because that pain was clarifying for me – it crystallized, for good and bad, the person that I am. It made me a fighter and empathetic and clumsy, complex and ruthless and fragile. It made me question who I was – it made me fight for myself. It grounded me in my own soil. It also reminded me that, in spite of it all, I loved being a teenager. I loved feeling all the nuances and complexity of emotions – first best friends, first break-up, first disappointment, first triumph. Like Mike Phelps was built for swimming, I was built for feeling things deeply. A lot of that (lol) was depression, but I think that even without being depressed, my body would be carved for intensity of feeling.

And it’s funny, because if I saw that kid – seventeen-year-old me – I would think that he was beautiful. I would admire his grit, his humor, his broken attempts at concealing how deeply and tumultuously he cared. I would’ve found him brave, and witty, and endearing, even as he attempted to be as spiky as possible. It’s the lasting echo I’ve carried with me since watching the movie: deep, bursting love for the kid that I was, despite everything, despite all the pain. And that’s what the end of the movie was about. Closing yourself off from grief is another kind of trauma. Feeling things deeply is not a curse, it’s part of the experience.

So much of life is love tempered with pain. One doesn’t exist without the other.

pop culture, television


Something I can’t stop talking about is Bravo’s Vanderpump Rules. It is, without a doubt, the best reality television series.

It began as an offshoot of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, and centers on the lounge of Real Housewife Lisa Vanderpump. The show originally portrayed the restaurant’s servers (SURvers) as up-and-coming (ish) models, actors and musicians who were using the restaurant to get by. Now, six seasons in, the cast members have morphed into these weird, emotionally stunted Instagram celebrities who, somehow despite all of the spon-con they hawk, still work at the restaurant and still make the same awful decisions in the latter half of their thirties.

Vanderpump Rules is the greatest show because it’s an actual, deep cut of human psychology. Every single person on the show operates beyond empathy and borders on intolerable. It’s also entirely unscripted. At least a decade into the reality television machine, most things are semi-produced. Fights used coded language that hints at larger, behind-the-scenes drama (that would break the fourth wall if acknowledged). But the drama on Pump Rules is so small, so insignificant, and so completely driven by people who can’t get out of their own way.

Within the first twenty minutes of the first episode of season six, we learn that Jax, a main cast member, (publicly) cheated on his girlfriend of two years, Brittany, with another SURver named Faith, while Faith was working as a live-in home health aide for an elderly woman. This is the first episode.

Ultimately, Brittany, a deeply devout Christian who moved from Kentucky after meeting Jax in Las Vegas, decides to stay with Jax. This is the second girlfriend Jax has cheated on during the show’s run. He cheated on his previous girlfriend Stassi with her best friend, Kristen, who also happened to be the girlfriend of his best friend, Tom.

This initial bomb leaves in its wake deeply troubling ways of coping. There is a lot of internalized misogyny and Peter Pan syndrome on Pump Rules. The guys band around Jax and say that he’s built to cheat, he’s a good person, he deserves another chance. The girls revolve around Brittany and alternately tell her to dump Jax and make him “super-jealous.” Brittany seems hell-bent on “changing” Jax, and he, despite being a serial cheater, finds worth in relationships.

These people act the same on and off camera; they actually are rewarded for behaving badly. But it’s fascinating to watch a group of people endlessly entangle themselves with each other, incapable of not hurting each other, and, despite all of the misery that they cause, remain a group.

Watching Pump Rules, you can catch glimpses of your own personality, the darkest recesses of your being. It’s the id of the reality television world. All of the things you wish you could say, the pettiness and mean-spiritedness and cattiness, are purged away as you watch two 35-year-olds chain-smoke on patio furniture in the alley behind SUR. It’s confession, basically.



In high school, I was worried about a lot. I was worried about getting good grades, getting into college, finding new and inventive ways to make myself known to my crushes. I was worried about track meets and my performance in them; I was worried about an upcoming test. I was worried that my shirt was too wrinkled and that I had forgotten to do my homework. I was worried about the ending of the Mayan Calendar on December 21, 2012.

I was not worried about getting shot.

The mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012 took place during my senior year of high school. It was the first time I realized danger could be breathing down your neck, completely unbeknownst to you. But, like a lot of people I think, we believed – prayed, hoped against hope – that this was an anomaly. That what happened in Sandy Hook could not – would not – happen again. I remember President Barack Obama reading out the names of the victims, his voice steadily breaking down but remaining holy and baritone.

Unfortunately, as the years have passed, what happened in Sandy Hook was not an anomaly. It was one chapter in a book of alarming trends – lone gunmen with semiautomatic assault rifles wreaking havoc, death and terror upon unsuspecting communities. I remember the massacre in Pulse Nightclub in Orlando – the then-largest massacre in modern United States history with 49 people, many queer and of Latinx descent, dead. That number was surpassed on October 1, 2017 with the Las Vegas massacre, leaving 59 dead.

Every time, it followed the same pattern. Horror as the event and aftermath unfolded. Offerings of “thoughts and prayers” sent out by legislators. Calls from civilians and Democrats alike to change gun control laws, met by claims of “politicizing tragedy.” If I go to my grave never hearing “politicizing the tragedy” again, it will be too soon. And eventually, we move on – whether at the hands of another tragedy or another political scandal or time and space from the blast.

“Thoughts and prayers” sticks nauseatingly in my ears as it becomes more and more clear that lawmakers will do nothing to change gun control laws. They will twist the request, claiming that it is an affront and an attack on law-abiding citizens. They will cite the Second Amendment, they will say that the answer is more guns, more weaponizing. The lines in the sand will become deeper and deeper, carving up innocent people along the way.

Even as I’m writing this, the survivors of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida are being attacked and derided on social media for calling for gun control. Commentators like Tomi Lahren and politicians like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio falsely claim that the survivors do not want gun control, only to be flatly disproved by the actual survivors.

If this were a bombing, the response would be different. It’s gruesome to say, but it’s true. If the shooter were Muslim, or a person of color, the response would be different. But there is something about this particular combination – white, young, male; semiautomatic weapon – that does not elicit the appropriate response. And it’s becoming increasingly clear that there will never be the appropriate response.

And why is that? Why is it that when teens started eating Tide Pods, there was a response within the month? That we have to take off our shoes at airports because of one man tried to ignite explosives hidden in his shoes? Why is it that the party that holds such strong beliefs, often on marriage rights, freedom of speech, abortion and personal property, has such a lax response?

It is because, in part, the National Rifle Association has a chokehold on the Republican politicians in power. It’s easy enough to look up which politicians have accepted funds and donation from the NRA, and to see how they respond and react to these tragedies.

Those donations, however great or small, are worth more, we’ve seen, than people’s lives. Because Sandy Hook was not enough. Orlando was not enough. Las Vegas was not enough. It has not been enough to incite action.

Despite it all, I have to hope against hope that this time will be different. It will be different, in part, because of the #MeToo movement. Because we are in a period of change, where the voices of the disenfranchised and oppressed are forceful enough to make change. Because the mighty totems of power that once held the status quo in check have begun to topple. Because we are getting tired of the cloying sympathies that evaporate within seconds.

This goes beyond party lines; this goes beyond those grooves drawn in the sand. There are ways to limit and curtail the purchase and possession of semiautomatic weapons without infringing upon the rights of law-abiding citizens.

It cannot, and should not, be up to citizens to prevent these tragedies. It is not, as President Trump said, the fault of bystanders to proactively recognize and stop shooters – something even the FBI failed to do. This conversation should not be about the red herring of mental health, as it so often becomes. It should not be about fear-mongering or the blame game. It should be, and must be, about active reform.

Kids should not be worried about getting shot during class. They should not, as the Washington Post reported, have to bring bullet-proof vests “just in case.” They should be allowed to be kids; they should not have to die, should not have to bury peers, should not have to leave parents and friends and goals behind.

This will not get better; this will not diminish. This trend will continue. This does not end until we change how we react.

For everyone affected in Parkland, Florida, I’m sorry that you’re going through this. I am so sorry that we did not do enough. But we will. Because we have to.