Essay, Life

THE BALLAD OF RICK AND BEING SICK

I worked a children’s Disney show this weekend, so obviously I oscillated between “I hate kids, why do we insist on putting the future into their jam-sticky, gremlin hands?” and “Oh that kid is so cute!”

And because I was surrounded by kids, I began thinking about him. The original little jam-sticky gremlin. The original “that kid is so cute”. The original two-foot-tall Tower of Terror.

Me!

Sometimes, I think that I would love to be a dad someday. And then I remember what I was like as a child. I was an overly-coiffed, under-socially aware, little know-it-all. Seriously, I was kind of an asshole. Like, I’m an asshole now, but back then (circa 2000) I had no idea the level of my asshole-ness.

And for some reason, a memory popped into my head. In the middle of third grade, I switched schools. We had moved houses the previous August, but I was just now being integrated into the local elementary school. And obviously, as such, I was ready for anything*.

*I was in no way prepared; again, I was eight years old.

In my new school, I was the new kid. And since everyone else had been going there since kindergarten (obviously a lifetime), they all knew each other and I was this strange, primped beast. I didn’t really make a lot of friends in elementary school because A) I was superbly gay even back then, and it was a Catholic school and B) I was superbly aloof.

But this memory doesn’t particularly have to do with me being aloof. I was sitting in Mrs. Angelo’s** third-grade class, chatting with Lucy Duffy**, who had a weird birthmark on her arm, but other than that was just kind of a maniac.

**Names have been changed for anonymity, I guess? I doubt they care.

Mrs. Angelo was a tall, slim ribbon of a woman, with teased, jet black hair and a cake-face of white foundation and dark, Gothic lips. Seriously, even as an eight-year-old, I knew that I was dealing with a member of the undead. She also assigned a lot of homework for being a third-grade teacher.

Anyway, I was talking with Lucy, and spouting off the kind of nonsense that kids do.

Me: I think I’ll change my name.

Lucy: Do it!

Me: My middle name is Patrick, so I wanna be called “Rick.”

Even thinking back on this, I cringe a little. Mostly at the idiocy of being a child. I never really liked being a child because I think I always knew how little power I had. And how dumb I was. But also at that god-awful nickname. But, it was 2003 and it was a different time.

Coming off of the band-wagon that was the late ‘90s, I was dead-convinced that the epitome of cool were those cheesy, awkward 90s-00’s white-boy nicknames. “Bobby” was a big hit for me. “Jake,” “Chad” and “Billy” were some other gems. So “Rick” was not entirely unprecedented.

Apparently early 2000s hyper-masculine names were incredibly appealing to me then.

I thought “Rick” was infinitely cool until it was explained to me that nicknames didn’t really work like that. At that point, I was being called “Daniel” fulltime. I had not yet reached my stage of wanting to be “casual and cool” (aka 12), which is when I first started going by Danny. So for those few brief moments in third-grade, I was someone other than Daniel. I was Rick. I was a god.

Sometimes I think about what my life would be like if I were straight. And Rick became the manifestation of that. I think about what he would be doing if he were a real person. What kind of guy he would be. What kind of human he would be.

So I wrote out a little list of what Rick would be like:

1). Embarrassed of the name Rick, and change it to Ricky

2). Love muscle-tanks

3). Slap two pieces of pizza together and call it a pizzandwich

4). Be a ladies’ man

5). Be kind of a tool

6). Love Dr. Dre’s Beats headphones (like a lot; idk why this is so specific)

7). Be really into Survivor

Straight Rick sounds a lot like Gay Danny, except with a slightly less firm grip on reality, and probably a slightly stronger BO. Just kidding, I sweat like a pig. Just kidding(?).

I’m also sick right now, and I can’t tell if it’s allergies or a cold. Could it be both? Could I possibly have that bad of karma? Let’s not answer that. Let me live in ignorance. And igno-dance the night away.

I’ll end this. This is going on too long. I’ll end it. Or will I? I will. I promise. I swear.

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Inspirational, Life

THE TANK TOP AT THE GYM

I wore a tank top to the gym on Sunday—yesterday, I guess. I’ve only actually worn a tank top to the gym once before. And it was a huge deal then. And it’s still kind of a huge deal for me now.

The idea of a tank top at the gym seems so innocuous you’re probably wondering why this is even worth a blog post. And to that I say, “Um, is this your blog? Get off my back, Barbara.” And I mean it, Barbara. Stop intercepting my mail.

I know it seems like a small thing. I wear tank tops all the time. Almost to my detriment. But wearing a tank top to the gym is outside of my comfort zone. Not even stepping outside of my comfort zone. More like goddamn LEAPING out of my comfort zone. But I have a lot of body image problems. I started going to the gym for a boy. I kept going because I felt like if I stopped, I was this heaving beast. And I’ve come to a place—or I’m beginning to begin to broach a place—where I can be comfortable with my body.

Hence the tank top.

The guys at the gym who wear tank tops are brawny and golden and hot AF. I’m a slim—obviously gorgeous—pale, hipster-type. For a long time, I felt very uncomfortable at the gym. I wasn’t benching as much as the other guys. I wasn’t rocking a six-pack that a Laundromat would be jealous of—get it? Washboard abs. I’m making a laundry joke. GOD, BARBARA—I wasn’t a bronzed Greek god. If anyone ever called me a Greek god, it’d be because I’m Hades, lord of the Underworld. Which is sort of chic.

But I wore a tank top to the gym and it was one of the most empowering moments of my life. Is that too monumental?

It was monumental because I could see the muscles in my body moving and rippling. And I don’t mean to be all like, “Oh, look at my muscles, bro” and have a pissing contest. I don’t mean to imply that I am completely ripped. But I have been going to the gym for over a year now, and I have definition. And I think I forget that sometimes when I’m wearing t-shirts to the gym. But wearing a tank top forces you to see your body as it works out. And I felt proud of my body. Not in a way “I’m swole” way. But proud of what my body can do.

My body is strong and whole and it carries my air-catching lungs and blood-pumping heart and entirely strange brain. I think we forget that our bodies are crazily cool. I feel—and I’m sure I’m not alone—so constantly measured against impossible standards. And that wears me down; it makes me believe that this body is fallible and broken and something in needing of fixing.

I’m doing a body-positivity, body-art photo series for my journalism class where I have people write out messages—some sexual, some not—that they have received that objectified or dehumanized them. And then I photograph them. And because I have integrity, I included myself in the photoshoot. And that was so goddamn scary because I was only in boxers. And the photos will only be shown in my class. But when I was hunched over in my bathroom, as my friend—let’s call her Thea—photographed me with words like “Talk like a boy” and “Beg for it” scrawled over my body, I was self-conscious. How could I, with my white stomach and jiggles, show this to my class? What nerve did I have?

And that stayed with me for a few days until I presented the photos. No one jeered, no one freaked out that I didn’t have a six-pack. People were just impressed with the words and my honesty. And when I was photographing my models in various states of undress, I didn’t find them repellant for not being perfect. All I was thinking about was how brave and honest and powerful and wonderful and cool they were.

So let me say something. Our bodies are the vessels that carry our fractious, kaleidoscopic souls. They let us touch and feel and bleed and break and repair. They let us do all these things and they are imperfect, sure, and they might not measure up to an airbrushed magazine. But our bodies have experience. They have evolved over thousands of years. They are roadways of arteries, tapestries of skin, branches of limbs, that extend out and forward.

I was talking to my friend—let’s call her Lily—about body standards. She’s actually sitting next to me as I type this. She has no idea. How cray.

Anyway, we were talking and I mentioned that I heard something that goes something like this: “You wouldn’t talk to your best friend the way you talk to yourself.” We wouldn’t tell our friends that their fat rolls are horrible; that those freckles are unattractive; that their eyes should be bigger. We celebrate and we sing of their beauty.

So let me be your best friend if you can’t. Let me angle the blade away from your fractious soul and give you time to grow new skin. You are beautiful. That body that you are pinching and prodding is doing exactly what it needs to do: let you live. If you’re reading this, you are breathing with lungs that are contracting and flexing.

Sometimes I cannot take my own advice. But I think I will go to the gym in a tank top more often. To remind myself that my body is good enough. That my skin is pale but like porcelain. That my freckles are from a sun that warms the earth and lets plants grow. That my hair is unique and coppery. My body is strong and it’s because I decided to make it strong. I gave myself these muscles through hard work and sweat and—let’s face it—a lot of complaining on Twitter. But I did it. The gym stuff. Not the Twitter stuff. I mean, I did the Twitter stuff. REGARDLESS.

This post is written basically just for myself. Because writing things out—especially life-affirming, body-positive things—even if you don’t believe them, makes them more concrete. I might not be able to look at myself and be body-positive 100% of the time. Maybe not even 60% of the time. But I’m writing this because I want to say, “Yes, I stand behind this ideal. Yes. I believe in this even when I don’t believe it. Yes.”

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Inspirational, Life

THE SHORTS AND SPRING AND SOPHOMORES

I’m wearing shorts. Yes. Yes.

I’m sitting on a bench in the hallway, and my ankle knobbles are pressed against the uncomfortable surface, and I’m trying to angle them away. What is the official term for ankle knobbles? I don’t even know if I want to know.

I’ve been up since 6:00 a.m., when I had to crawl out of bed like something out of Splice—you thought I was going to reference The Grudge, didn’t you?—and get ready for a train to take me from my homeland—my bed at home—to my other homeland—my bed at school.

I have five weeks left of school, and I can taste summer, warm and light, on my tongue, on my skin. But I won’t fully celebrate until there are leaves on the trees. I always find the process of waiting for leaves to bud to be the most agonizing of all processes, aside from waiting for the microwave to beep or for that last minute on the washer to be done. One day, the trees are dead things, black bark and skeletal branches. Then they are frosted in pale green buds. And then, one day, they are covered in lush, sexy leaves. Yeah, I said “sexy.” Those leaves are sexy, green and soft and shady.

Usually, I don’t really care about summer that much, but I am jonesing for this one. I think it’s because of the winter Boston has had. This is the first time I’ve worn shorts outdoors since September, and my knees are like, “YAAAS.”

I’ve only got five weeks left of being a sophomore in college. In fact, in five weeks, I’ll never be able to call myself a sophomore in anything. I’ll just be a soft moron—a pudgy idiot—and that’s a weak joke, I’m sorry.

I just lied; I’m not sorry.

But that is so crazy. Why didn’t high school go by this quickly? By the end of sophomore year in high school, I felt like I had aged a hundred years. I had lost all my baby fat—in my face, I’m still porky other places (nonsexual)—and had grown about a foot. I looked like a completely different person. In college, all I’ve learned is that I can’t keep mixing patterns.

I feel like I’ve become a badass in these last two years. Not, like, a real badass. Like, I would never go on a motorcycle, or litter without feeling guilty, or cheat on a test. But a badass in that I know have opinions. I didn’t really have opinions in high school; I was too focused on being a bitch and stalking—I mean, having healthy crushes on—cute boys. I was so fake that any opinion I could’ve possibly mustered up would be pre-fabricated and as fake as my summery glow—it’s Jergens tanning moisturizer. But now I’ve stopped being a bitch—I’m just a straight-up asshole now (only sometimes, I swear)—but I can have real opinions because I can be real.

Does anyone else feel like that? Like high school was playacting and college is this rough terrain that scrapes and bruises and tears away at those costumes? Not in a bad way, but in a good way. In a way that allows me to shed and molt and about twenty other metaphors for growing up.

I started reading David Sedaris. And I’ve been listening to Bea Miller. And these two things—one old, one young—fit very well with me right now. David Sedaris is kind of who I want to be, but he’s old and still doesn’t seem to have his life together—which is a fucking blessing—and he’s still being crazy. But he’s done more drugs than I’ve done/will probably ever do. And Bea Miller, I’m fairly certain, is a toddler but her songs are so good! “Young Blood” and “Fire N Gold” are slaying me right now.

Today is the first day of the “100 Days Project” that my friend—let’s call her Nora—told me about. And I want to do it but what do I do? Poems? Haikus? Could that be hai-cool? Maybe I should just do 100 days of bad puns. But I feel like I would make it to about day 20 when an enraged Instagram follower punches me in the face for putting them through such terrible comedy. I don’t want to come-die.

Okay, I’ll stop.

I lied. I’LL NEVER STOP.

Also, Bea Miller was born in 1999. She is younger and literally more successful than I will probably ever be. JUST KIDDING. I’m gonna be so successful. People with big egos always reach success, right? That’s what Keeping Up With The Kardashians and The Real Housewives franchise has taught me. O Andy Cohen, guide me onto the path of success.

This blog has sufficiently come apart at the threads, so maybe let’s wrap up? Yeah? Okay. You hang up first. No, you. No, you. No, y—

*line has been disconnected*

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Life

THE POST THAT STARTS WITH BLUE BALLS AND ONLY GETS WORSE

Last week, waiting for my class to begin, I started writing a post. But then I never finished and I got blog-writing blueballs. So let’s pray that I actually finish and upload this one.

WHAT A WAY TO START A BLOG.

I’m sipping on an iced coffee, waiting for my class to start and straight-up LIVING. Some girl just walked past me with extremely squeaky boots. And it reminded me how if I tie my bean boots too tightly, then one—not even both, which I could deal with because hello symmetry—becomes very, very squeaky whenever I walk. Also, it took me three times to spell squeaky right that time. And it took me four times to get it right just now.

I put Equal into my coffee, and I forget, is that the one that’s basically poison? I feel like someone told me that artificial sweeteners cause cancer or aliens to inhabit your body, or something of that ilk. And that is not how I’m planning on leaving this big, blue marble we call Earth. And plus I want to make sure that my body is perfectly ready for my champagne-colored, silk-lined coffin. Even though I don’t want to get buried. I want to be Weekend at Bernie-d. That was 50% a joke.

The other day I met my friend for coffee and she asked me what I had been up to recently. And my response was:

“Well, I started a new tanning lotion. So that takes up most of my time.

Today is April 1st, and I’m a little upset that no one has pranked me for April Fool’s Day. But I’m also glad because I react violently to being pranked. Once my friend put salt in my water and in response I backwashed into his cup and poured it onto his plate. Ew, I just grossed out myself. I find it interesting that we have an entire day dedicated to tomfoolery. April Fool’s Day is essentially a lighthearted, real-life version of the Purge.

I haven’t bitten my nails in a week, and like any drug addict, I’m becoming a little antsy. I keep running my fingernails over each other and staring at them. I really want to bite them. My hands feel like they have fire-ants in them. I might have a serious addiction.

What else happened to me today?

Oh! I found a pack of cigarettes in the dining hall. Blue Camel. And I’ll be honest, it was the first time I’ve ever seen a cigarette pack up close. I know, I know, I’m so naïve. What can I say? I’m more a cocaine gal myself. But anyway, yeah I found a pack of cigarettes. The actual cigarettes were so small, and the box felt so fragile, like a prop. And on the side of the box was the Surgeon General’s warning and it literally said, “STOP SMOKING NOW.” And I kind of love how rude the Surgeon General is being. Like, what if we had Surgeon General warnings on everything? You opened up a bag of Cheetos and on the inside was a picture of the Cheetos Cheetah morbidly obese and the Surgeon General being like, “Girl, I told you so.”

With the weather warming up—and by “warming up” I mean “36 degrees and up” which is a bigger joke than my love life, and that’s saying something—I keep thinking of summer, and how READY my body is. I want to be warm. I want to wear tank tops and gym shorts and eat frozen yogurt and 7-11 Slurpees. And since I wear tank tops and gym shorts to bed all the time, I am looking forward to a life where there is literally no distinction between my daytime and nighttime outfits.

I’ll kind of miss wearing sweaters and cute pants, but at this point, I feel so suffocated that I’ll gladly give up pants entirely and wear skorts if it means that my legs get to be free. I also have no fashion imagination anymore. And if I wear another “vaguely cute blue short-sleeved buttondown” and “chinos”, I think Joan Rivers will rise from the grave and slice off my face.

Also can I just list one of my many conspiracies? I don’t think Joan Rivers is dead. I’m, like, not convinced. I also believe in extraterrestrial life and that Paula Abdul is an automaton created by Simon Cowell.

Side bar, my tall—aka “small”—iced coffee is on the dregs, and it legitimately has enough ice in it to constitute it as a veritable penguin habitat. Why is Starbucks throwing shade at me like this? I NEED caffeine, and they are playing a dangerous game.

I’m very into conspiracies. Like, I’m not sure how much I believe in black holes. Convince me, NASA. Convince me.

I’ve been very into RuPaul and drag queens and RuPaul’s Drag Race. It makes me into a better gay person and a better fucking humanitarian. I spent a solid five minutes Googling the new song that plays at the end of each episode. I found it eventually. It’s not as good as I originally thought. I find drag queens fascinating. Their pain tolerance must be literally indescribable, because not only are they cinching and wearing heels, they are also tucking to the high heavens and painting their faces for the gods. And I literally want to cry when I get a paper-cut. They’re better men than I will ever be.

I also enjoy drag queens, because they—along with strippers and porn stars—are, in my opinion, the modern champions of puns and wordplay. And as an English major, a punemployed person, and a fucking humanitarian, I appreciate that. I have two drag queen names for myself picked out, but I don’t want to say them out loud. Not because I’m embarrassed but because y’all seem shady as shit, and I know that some people—DENISE—would steal them. I don’t actually know anyone named Denise. I just feel like Denise is a shady AF name.

Class is starting soon, and honestly, we all know that I’ve peaked. In this blog, in my life, in this world. WHAT A WAY TO END THIS BLOG POST. This was amazing, from top to bottom, from beginning to end.

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