Books, Essay, Life

THE SORTING HAT MADE ME GO DEEP, YOU GUYS

The other day, I asked my friend, “Did you even read Harry Potter?” We’re best friends, so I know a decent amount about her, but this was something I don’t remember us ever talking about.

Watch, she’s gonna text me after reading this and go, “Actually we did talk about it on xyz.”

I’m a huge Harry Potter fan – I think the world divides pretty cleanly into fans and non-fans, and usually it comes down to your level of physical fitness in middle school. Despite doing essentially every sport imaginable as some sort last-ditch effort to butch me up, I was not a ~jock~. My parents also severely limited my screen time (a wise decision, because I think my eyeballs would’ve been fried out of my head by now).

So I spent my time in one of a few ways: creating dresses for Polly Pockets (this is a real thing, I really did this), practicing piano, and reading. Reading like “reading under my desk after tests” reading and “bringing three books on vacation” reading. It’s the reason why I am so good at writing (I think) and also the reason why I say things like “I AM THE PROTAGONIST” (see above).

Harry Potter was one of my ultimate favorite series. I’ve probably read the entire thing more than twenty times, and own two sets (one weather-beaten and held together by tape and a prayer; one that came in a “trunk” set for Christmas).

Obviously the follow-up question was, “What house are you?” She’s Gryffindor (because she’s basically Hermione Granger), but that’s not actually important because she’s not the protagonist in this story – I am.

I told her that when Pottermore originally came out (after I did…copycat) I took the Sorting Hat quiz and was placed in Ravenclaw. This fits – I’m smart, clever and more than a little socially insensitive. Also I look amazing in blue. I was happy to be in Ravenclaw, even though everyone secretly wants to be in Gryffindor because Harry Potter was in Gryffindor.

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Essay, Opinion, Politics

KATHY GRIFFIN’S NOT APOLOGIZING ANYMORE, PRESIDENTIALITY AND HIGHER STANDARDS

Header source: Wikimedia Commons

When Trump’s actions are getting increasingly damaging to vulnerable minorities, it’s getting harder and harder to imagine why we should expect people like Kathy Griffin to keep apologizing.


Kathy Griffin, the comedian who faced massive backlash from a May 30th photo she posted of her holding up a mask of President Donald Trump covered in fake blood, styled to look like his decapitated head, is refusing to apologize anymore.

She was the subject of a recent article from The Cut, months after the fallout that cost her 15 live performances, her gig hosting CNN’s New Year’s Eve broadcast and an endorsement deal – not to mention the thousands of death threats.

The story, which takes place in late June, opens with a description of Trump’s Twitter rant that day: denouncing Robert Mueller’s investigation, mocking House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and calling Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer “Cryin’ Chuck.” The nickname came from Schumer getting emotional when discussing the Trump immigration ban.

“Why are people still expecting me to apologize and grovel to a man that tweets like this?” Griffin “vented” to the piece’s author Bashar Ali. “I’m a comedian; he’s our fucking president.”

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Essay, Politics

ACKNOWLEDGE WHITE PRIVILEGE

Header credit: Wikimedia Commons


When I first saw the photos of the march through the University of Virginia’s campus, of white faces oiled by sweat and contorted by rage and chants, lit by the flames of tiki torches, a small flicker of surprise almost went unnoticed amidst the chill of horror that climbed up my spine.

Brief surprise that white supremacists, Nazis, would march through the streets, unhooded, uncovered – unabashed because they were so certain in their rise. And then just as quickly, that flicker of surprise turned to sickness and shame in my stomach. I should not be surprised by the evilness and callousness of people. As a gay man, I have been groped, harassed, called “faggot” and “queer”, unfriended by people whose parents did not want me in their home. I write on the Internet – I was once called a faggot for an article I had written on the CW show Riverdale. I know how cruel and vicious people can be.

I should not be surprised that white supremacists felt comfortable enough to march in the streets, but I was. I was surprised because of my own white privilege.

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Essay, LGBTQ, Life, pop culture, Pride 2017

COMING OUT IN THE AGE OF YOUTUBE

My first laptop was a thick black Dell that required a near-constant source of power and hummed louder than a barbershop quartet.

It took minutes to load up and froze frequently, which I’m sure is entirely unrelated to the buckets of shady porn websites I was searching. Also unrelated to my search history was the Dell’s untimely and unseemly demise at the hands of a Trojan virus.

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college, Essay

IN MY LANE

I’ve been avoiding going on Snapchat. And when I do go on, I avoid the Stories of my friends and peers, preferring to stick to innocuous celebrities and “influencers.” I’m avoiding Snapchat because I’m jealous, and if I see one more “I’m employed” snap, I might crack my iPhone over my knee and use the shard to slit a jugular.

So staying off Snapchat is a way to protect me from me, and more specifically, my jealousy. It’s hard not to be jealous around this time. People are broadcasting their successes on social media—suddenly we’ve turned into our parents and narrate every goings-on digitally: “Insert Name is so pleased to announce that I’ve accepted a job at Such&Such! Message me if you’re also moving to (this place)!”—and those that aren’t are silently stewing or, in my case, broadcasting their feelings on their blog.

But jealousy is a complex emotion—particularly right now—because it’s hardly ever just jealousy. It’s jealousy mixed with pride for your friends and their accomplishments, soured by a seething monster named “Why Not Me” and reddened by anger at yourself for not just being blindly and simply happy. So you’re jealous and happy and resentful and self-admonishing and stressed and depressed and can’t stop eating French fries.

I realized I was becoming jealous but I wasn’t able to really verbalize why. Why was I gritting my teeth so hard bone shards were popping out of my mouth? Why were there half-moon crescents on my palms from my nails? For me, the most lingering of the emotions was shame—embarrassment that I have not gotten a job but the more pressing shame of being so jealous. No one wants to believe that they can get jealous, particularly over others’ success, but I think—at least for me, and I’m hoping others—naming it and saying it out loud can help process through it.

A friend of mine—someone who has made regular appearances on this blog, Nina—said something that’s stuck with me since I vented about it Saturday night.

“Do you want to switch places with them?” she asked as I took a sharp staccato breath after ranting until all air had been squeezed from my lungs. “Do you want their lives?”

I thought about it for a second. Everyone I was jealous of…I wasn’t particularly jealous of what they had achieved, only that they had achieved something. And the accomplishments I’ve made seemed paltry and invisible in the face of a tactile job offer, a definite plan.

“No,” I admitted. “I don’t want their lives.”

“So,” she shrugged and leaned back in her chair, “if you don’t want their lives, wouldn’t want to switch, then you don’t need to be jealous.” And just like that, the stoppered green bottle in my chest loosened and exhaled a little bit. It didn’t empty completely, but I felt some pressure alleviated.

I’m happy for them and in the same breath I’m anxious for myself. It’s not weird or bad or good—it just is. And if I can separate my own emotions and name them and recognize them, I can begin the process of staying in my lane. There is not a finite amount of success, especially not across industries. One person succeeding in this moment does not mean that my moment has spluttered out on the floor. Stay in your lane, and focus on your end-point.

On Friday, I found out that I’m graduating magna cum laude for my journalism degree and cum laude for my English (English, wtf, I’ve been speaking you forever). In the moment, I diminished it because I thought, “Hey, that didn’t get me any jobs, so what does it even matter?” But after telling a few people and having them be excited, I reconsidered. If you know me in real life, I’m constantly cutting emotion with humor and I have a chronic disability to receive a compliment.

But these Latin honors are more than just Latin honors. During college I started to grow (started—haven’t finished yet). I came to terms with my own depression and anxiety and went on medication. I went to London and interned. I started my blog, this very weird, wonderful blog, as a method for self-expression and honing of my own voice. I got two degrees in four years. I had an on-campus job and worked as a fashion writer and city editor and a radio DJ and a copywriter and blogger and did plays and organized events and gave tours. I started going to the gym and coming to terms with my own body issues. I made friends. I lost friends. I made new ones. I came into my queerness. I traveled to six countries and countless cities. I wrote pages and pages of articles, blogs, essays. Hundreds of Instagrams, thousands of Tweets. Walks in chilly night air and in hot summer heat. I was sad, I was happy.

These might seem small or big or extreme or obvious—but that’s kind of the point, no? I’ve had millions of experiences, kaleidoscopic and varied and sharp. And I’m here. I fought the good fight. We all did. I cried and laughed my way to the top (some moments had more of one or the other).

And the point is that these things shouldn’t be erased because I don’t have a job lined up right away after graduation. In fact, I refuse to them be erased. I became a more full and depthful and wide and colorful person. Every moment, good or bad or heartbreaking or joyful—these things don’t lose their meaning because I don’t know where my foot will land next.

I’m looking forward to the future, but this past has been great. Horribly, wonderfully, weirdly great.

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Essay, Humor

A TALE OF TOO SWEATY

Alternately titled “Gland to Meet You” and “Sweaty Pie”


I don’t sweat like a whore in church, I sweat like a brothel in a clown car on the sun.

Over the Easter break, my mother stuffed an Old Navy gift card in my Easter basket. I don’t eat chocolate bars (or bunnies) and I don’t eat jelly beans, so besides Peeps, gift cards are the safest bet. You could argue that I’m too old for Easter baskets, but my response is *plugs ears* “LALACAN’THEARYOU!”

Old Navy holds a special place in my family’s collective heart (we share one, like the Three Fates in Hercules, and pass it around—my turn is next Saturday). Apparently a few years ago they switched designers and that, coupled with the cheap prices and frequent sales, means that in our thrifty household, an Old Navy gift card is Gospel. My mother’s favorite activity is to pick at something you’re wearing and say, “What is this? Where is this from?”

So from Old Navy, I got three shirts. One was simple striped—boring—one was a Golden Girls homage—I’m wearing it right now and I look like the gay Mount Rushmore—and one was a black t-shirt with a Reptar patch stitched above the meat cavity where a heart usually is.

I wore the black shirt twice in one week—I washed it in between, you Judgy Judies—once to a magazine launch party and then to a bar, and once party-hopping in Allston. It’s beyond cute and tres simplistic, but with a touch of early 2000s whimsy (very much my brand right now).

Paired with nondescript chino shorts (Old Navy and J.Crew respectively on the two different nights—yes, I own J.Crew. Intimidated?), Adidas Superstars (now perfectly beaten up, but not too beaten up) and a denim jacket (Amazon), the shirt was great for going out. Simple enough to work, dark enough to be appropriate for nighttime, and an injection of fun to keep it from being monotonous. I put as much thought into my outfits as I do my political coverage—scary.

I figured the black would be perfect because dark colors are generally more forgiving of excessive sweating. This is no secret, I’ve talked about it before, but I sweat more than the average human. I don’t know what dire climate and situation my body thinks I’m in, but there really is no physiological stimulus that requires such a response. I have a theory that because I work out (is it drafty in here from the door I opened to do that backdoor brag?) a lot, my body has assumed that any situation I’m in requires a waterfall to keep me cool. I appreciate that my body is looking out for me, but it’s also kind of ruining my life.

giphy

Source: Giphy

My sweating itself doesn’t bother me that much—it’s like, babe, we all do it—but anticipating the reaction from others about my sweating sends me into…a cold sweat. Then it becomes a vicious cycle until I pass out from dehydration. It began one day in church, when I shook hands to pass along “peace” to my sister, when she recoiled and hissed “Sweaty” in an accusation.

Whether it was the thinness (and breathability) of the cotton, or the particular shade of the black (a subtle charcoal), whether it was just a particular sweaty day for me, the individual reasons don’t matter. What matters was, on both occasions of me wearing the shirt, my body sweat began darkening the fabric, turning that charcoal-black into the black of the unforgivable void, of blackholes. Really sweaty people know that it’s not just the armpits you have to worry about, or the small of your back—that’s amateur hour. Real sweaters have the conspicuous dotting over your chest and stomach, where sweat rolls down slick skin and catches against your skin despite your best efforts to hunch your back and add negative space between your front and the shirt. To no avail.

Even after the sweatiness of Thursday, I wore the shirt Saturday because I’m optimistic and just a little bit stupid. I thought that I could scooch past my destiny, even when the omens had already appeared in my lap. And my back. And my chest. But, I’m being unfair to my own body. Sweating isn’t all bad.

But like I said, I actually don’t care about my sweating that much, besides the mild discomfort of it all. And after a few drinks and some vigorous jumping jacks, I can play it off quite nicely. Sweating? Who me? Oh I guess it’s because I just did some push-ups. You can always pass off sweat as a funky tie-dye pattern. It won’t work, but if sweating has taught me anything, it’s that you don’t quit.

 Sweating is also great for breaking the ice, and that’s not just because salt is corrosive to frozen water.

I’d like to think it’s my good looks, or my height, or my wit, but I’m intimidating to people. So being a sweaty betty is my version of a mole (a la Cindy Crawford) or eyebrows (a la Cara Delevingne) or gap tooth (a la idk various British models)—the slight imperfection that humanizes someone otherwise inhuman. When I crack jokes about being too sweaty, other (less attractive) people find that we have something in common and that I’m relatable. Sweating also keeps me humble, and if you pause at this point and say, “Hey, you’re actually not humble,” then imagine how bad I would be if I had inactive sweat glands. I would be a monster.

So that stupid Reptar shirt actually taught me a lot. It taught me that appearances don’t always matter, that illustrated depictions of prehistoric giant lizards are fraught with misrepresentations, and that charcoal black is not as forgiving as one might assume. It also saved me from embarrassing myself when the party I went to was revealed to have a (previously unknown) theme of “early 2000s”. Luckily I dress in early 2000s wherever I go. Thanks, Reptar!

Side bar: This post is going to be over 1000 words, which I was easily able to crank out about the topic of sweating, but took me several hours to reach when I was profiling a comedy website. Why am I like this?

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Essay, Humor

I LOOKED INTO THE VOID AND THE VOID LOOKED BACK: “Buffalo Exchange Amnesia”

A.k.a. I didn’t recognize somebody; Alternative titles included “I Don’t Know Her: The Danny McCarthy Story,” “Goodall for Nothing: Can’t Recognize Faces” and “Face It”.


I ran into a situation where I was greeted by someone whom I didn’t remember, and my level of unrecognition was so deep that I felt that not only had I never seen this face before, I had never seen any human face before.

Let me back up.

I was going into Allston—think Brooklyn with less gentrification and more rats—to meet up with a friend at Buffalo Exchange and get light-wash shorteralls (a decision that has garnered me much derision).

Buffalo Exchange is a slightly more-curated, one-tier-up version of Goodwill. Hipsters go there to get cheap clothing when they can’t hit the free shipping minimum for Urban Outfitters. So instead of buying some shorteralls online, and not knowing the fit or how much of a blue jean lima bean I would look like—

Side bar: If I ever make a country album, it’ll be called Blue Jean Lima Bean and I’ll have a wheat straw clenched in my teeth.

—I decided to be economically savvy. I would go to Buffalo Exchange and see if they had any shorteralls or overalls (or as I call them ‘pre-shorteralls’). I wanted a kind of folksy, “makes my own soap” Bushwick-Coachella-Rumspringa summer look. Essentially, I aspire to look as Amish as possible at all times.

And in Buffalo Exchange I had my Fifty First Dates-level of amnesia.

Buffalo was packed to the gills. A line of people looking to drop off clothing (for store credit or cash) snaked through the men’s section. After picking up several “Can’t Decide If They’re Ugly or Hip” button-downs, I shifted to the t-shirt rack. As I was figuring out if I hated myself to subject myself to this torture, someone tapped me on the shoulder, the one opposite to the line of people.

I turned towards an older man in a fedora and—I might be exaggerating but I don’t think so—a full three-piece suit. “Izeverthin here a dowla?” he asked.

I literally stared at him. “Um…”

“Izeverythin here a dowla?” he asked again, and I realized he was asking, “Is everything here a dollar?” in a thick Boston accent.

Being rude, I assumed that he didn’t get Buffalo Exchange like I got Buffalo Exchange, so with one hand—my other hand was holding several ugly button-downs—I thumbed the price tag out of the t-shirt he was looking at. “That’s the price–$9.40,” I smiled at him. But he was not satiated.

“No, the sign says a dowla,” he shook his head and pointed over his shoulder at a sign on the wall. I squinted at it: “Earth Day, Everything A Dollar.” But I still didn’t know what to say, so I made a silent “help me” plea to the line behind me of people waiting to drop off clothes.

“Everything in one section was a dollar before 3 p.m.,” a girl—dark hair, olive skin and startlingly light eyes lined in glittery eyeshadow—answered, pulling me out of my misery.

“And it’s,” I said, pulling out my phone, “3:40.”

“One dollar, that’s a good deal,” I remarked to her before turning back to the man. “Sorry.” He grumbled something about “a dowla” again before turning back into his own shopping. “Thanks,” I said to the girl.

“No problem,” she answered brightly before adding, “And by the way, nice to see you again!” and squeezing me genially on the shoulder.

aHhH!” I squeaked at her open, friendly eyes—eyes that I had never, in my entire life, ever seen before. She smiled as I managed to croak out, “You too!!”

Now, I’m very good at faces. It probably comes from being an unathletic gay kid in a Catholic grammar school, but because I didn’t have a lot of friends, I spent a lot of time observing people. And because of that, I’m generally pretty good at remembering faces, even if I’m not that good at remembering names. I’m great at remembering bizarre details—I won’t know your name, but I’ll remember that you hate avocadoes.

The reason I’m bad at names but good at faces is because whenever you’re introducing yourself to me, my mind is going rapid-fire, “I hope my palms aren’t sweaty; don’t squeeze too hard; say your name, you idiot” on and on. But the entire time, I’m staring at your face.

So as I was staring into this black hole of her face—a face I was sure I had never seen before—my mind was frantically pinballing around my recent memory to no avail. Afraid she would try to continue the conversation, I shyly shifted away to another side of the t-shirt rack and studiously avoided her glance.

The reason I was so shaken is because not only was this a face I had no memory of, but clearly she had a very strong memory of me. And since I pride myself on good facial recognition, I suddenly felt as if I wouldn’t be able to recognize any faces ever. I furtively looked around, hoping that I didn’t run into anyone else that I didn’t remember. How deep does this go? I wondered. Who do I recognize?

As I stumbled around the store looking for my friend—Would I even know her when I saw her?—I felt as if I were in a TV show where the protagonists realizes that they haven’t been remembering anything. It was Jason Bourne meets Before I Go to Sleep with a dash of Jane Goodall to taste.

Eventually I found my friend—screaming someone’s name over and over in a small store with strangers is generally a good way of finding people—and told her what had happened. All the while I looked around to make sure that the girl wasn’t within earshot. Although, admittedly, there was no way for me to know if she was or not. And if I ever ran into that girl again, I probably wouldn’t remember her face because the last time I saw her face I was in a noiseless scream. The cycle is wont to happen again so I’ll probably never know this girl.

And at the end of the day, I guess the moral of the story is that I ended up buying a pair of ripped-up $20 Levis.

 

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