Body Health, Humor, Rambles

THIGHS THE LIMIT

Because of the way my face is, I could easily play the cruel son of a British business magnate intent on shutting down a small, mom and pop establishment. And while it’s nice to have that as a back-up if this writing thing does not pan out (or if my plan to snag a rich husband backfires on me) it’s not a look that I seek out on a regular basis.

To counteract my inner scion, I try to dress how I feel: sloppy, a little nineties-inspired, and in love with my thighs.

Belying my skinny frame, I have the thighs that four years of constant running built. These are the thighs that propelled me up countless hills, the thighs that kept my body in forward motion even as crippling muscle cramps doubled me over, the thighs that brought me into the fastest mile I ever ran (and that promptly sealed my running peak in junior year). Even if I’ve had to work on other parts of my body, my legs have never disappointed me. They’ve, pardon the phrase, always held me up.

I have an on-and-off relationship with my body (we’re on speaking terms right now, but she’s tough). Regardless of our fraught relationship, we’ve always put our differences aside and come together for the sake of the thing we can both agree on: my thighs.

I’m moving to Los Angeles in a few weeks (quelle surprise!) and so I’ve been slowly formulating my LA style (as well as thinking of LA-centric puns). I’ve decided that my aim is going to be very skate-centric, despite the fact that my only experience skating was gingerly perching on a longboard going at glacial paces. I’m afraid of skateboarding, mostly because I’m so tall that falling is a two-hour event. I put on the latest Star Wars just to have something to watch while it happens.

Because I’ve got such long legs (brag) shorts can be tricky. If I’m not careful, I look like a flamingo, or one of those blow-up toys at used car lots advertising great deals. I try to break them up with tall socks, which fulfills two purposes: it stops the eye from creating one continuous line, and it makes me feel like the hot, alt boys I had crushes on in middle school. Two birds.

After a barrage of Instagram ads, I broke down and bought a pair of 7’’ Chubbies shorts. They are, no exaggeration, so fucking stretchy. By mentioning them (and praising them, to boot) I’ve basically sealed my fate and I will see a Chubbies ad every single day until I die. Hopefully they sponsor the funeral. But seriously, I adore them and wore them to work. They’re flirty. Like, they’re a brown chino color, but they’re not taking things so seriously.

Speaking of which, yesterday at work I spotted a boy wearing a pair of short, loose gym shorts, ratty Vans, calf socks and a striped t-shirt. As a gay guy, whenever there’s a pull towards someone, I have to wonder, “Do I like him or do I want to be him?” His face was alright (5.6/10) but I was so into his outfit that I stared at him, i.e. “be him.” I don’t wear glasses at work (TMI but I sweat and they slip) so me staring is the absolute most obvious thing. I kept maneuvering what I was working on so I could keep him in my (very blurry) eye-line until I had committed his outfit to memory.

I’m sure I’m not alone, but I’m so swayed towards a certain style when I see someone else pull it off. I bought a lilac t-shirt from Topman because the model was gorgeous. It looks amazing on me, but different-amazing. So this guy at work, who was built along the same lines as me, really hooked me to the style. It was like looking into a brunette mirror (but I’m a 7, so).

I’m nervous about moving, so I’ve kinda focused on some of the sillier aspects of it, like my new style. I’m sure that eventually, I’ll get bored and lax and start wearing socks with my Birkenstocks (I’ve done this, and I do not regret it), but so far it’s been fun to troll online shops and scour the internet for my new threads.

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Humor, Love & Romance, Millennials

THE ONE WHERE I GO ON HINGE AND TRY TO FIND LOVE

“Do you want to date?” my psychiatrist asks.
“Ugh, no,” I scoff.
Ten minutes later. “I just really want to date!” I whine.
“You said you didn’t want to,” she points out, rightfully.
“I know I said that, but I lied,” I answer. I’m petulant, and she’s beginning to learn that.
“It’s kind of hard for you to be open to dating when you say, explicitly, that you don’t want to date.”

# # #

She also points out that dating is work, and requires effort. These are two things that I am unaccustomed to, but I begrudgingly admit that she’s right. Almost to spite her (healthy?), and prove to her that I can date if I want to, I download Hinge, a dating app that purports to set you up with people within your Facebook friends-of-friends network.

Of course, I do this the week that Facebook is in the news for allowing Cambridge Analytica to siphon off private user information. With my luck, Facebook will shut down and I’ll die alone.

I picked Hinge for a few reasons – Tinder is essentially the new Grindr and Bumble won’t let me use a photo of me giving the camera the middle finger. If I can’t show my personality, then I won’t find love.

I also picked Hinge because that’s how Phillip Picardi, the digital editorial director of Teen Vogue and Allure, met his totally-crazy-hot boyfriend. And if there’s one thing you can say about me, it’s that I can operate with a near-lethal amount of optimism.

So I made my profile. I put in a few funny quips, but I tried not to overwhelm it with humor. Surprise, I use humor as a defense mechanism. I tried to be honest (and cute) and earnest (and cute) and actually give myself a fighting chance.

Yes, the photos I chose showcase me doing essentially the same pose over and over (I know my angles) and I will almost never do a smile that shows my teeth (I have good teeth, I just don’t feel like showing them off) but the photos are all recent, and g-damn I look good in all of them! I’m in a very – well, not right now because I made the decision early on today to wear a hat and, honey, it’s one I’m regretting – good place about my body and my face.

So I made the profile, and I’ve been trying to – without sounding like American Pyscho – lower my standards. Okay, yeah that sounds awful.

But here’s what I mean. I love quitting while I’m behind. Frankly, I love quitting. I love a good self-sabotage. I set impossible standards for the men I look to date – they must be funny, but not funnier than me; they must be tall; they must be mean, but not nasty; cute, but not hot; smart, but not intimidating; not annoying, not rude; not clingy, not antisocial – usually this pares the group of eligible men available to a party of one, and I can’t date myself. Not again.

I also fall into the dangerous pattern of finding men whose flaws I forgive, because they’re so unattainable – straight, or in a relationship, or dead – that I’ll never have to worry about coming into contact with those flaws. I can safely yearn from 500 yards away (not a restraining order thing, I just wear glasses now and I don’t need to be that close) and never get hurt.

I’m trying to quell the inner saboteur, that messy, clumsy-fingered little goblin, and try to find one thing to “like” about each profile I see. Surprisingly, it’s easy. The questions are designed to yield answers, and damn some of y’all are cute! I’ve been liking more than I’ve been disliking, and it’s led to some interesting conversations. Not amazing conversations, and certainly not any love connections yet, but still: progress.

However, since I’m admitting to be a greedy little goblin, let’s be hateful for one paragraph. Loving brunch is not original. Loving SoulCycle is not original. Be the hottest one in a group photo, or just do a solo. Stop posting photos from vineyards; frankly, stop going to vineyards. Stop talking about Antoni from Queer Eye (I am a “he cannot cook” truther to the grave).

There are certain things I am willing to forgive, but hawking avocado/being 20/loving Antoni are things that I simply, for my own health, cannot abide.

Okay, done being hateful.

My most recent foray into “getting out there” is coming to the realization that I’d like to date somebody. I denied this for a long time because I hate being vulnerable, and damn that’s lame to say that you wanna date. But I do, and so I’m gonna say so. I dated a decent bit in college, but that was easier because I was surrounded by people constantly. This is harder, and we all know I love things that require little-to-no effort.

Snow White found love, and all she had to do was sleep. Lucky.

While I am pale (and tall enough that I’m constantly surrounded by aggro little short men), I’m no Snow White. Me sleeping just leads to morning breath and unfortunate hair situations.

So I, awake, am going to put myself out there. If you know someone in his twenties, with a job, who is good-looking enough that people wouldn’t describe him as “having a great personality” but does have a great personality, send him my way. He can have a weird face; that’s fine by me, but then he has to have good hair. I will not bend on this.

I’m sure my 900-word diatribe about Hinge will not frighten him off in the least.

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Body Health, Humor

CAREFUL: HOT OBJECT

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!

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Essay, Humor, Things Happening RN

I’M EAVESDROPPING

THURSDAY, STARBUCKS – I just spent twenty minutes listening to two teenager/twentysomething girls complain about their babysitting wards, specificially some kid named Soren. I kept meaning to start writing something, but I was drawn in beyond understanding. Soren dropped something on the floor and then just walked away. She would totally clean it up no problem, one girl assured, but it was the laissez-faire attitude Soren possessed that really irked her. By the way, that’s never true. It’s never that you would totally clean something up but the person was rude about it – you also don’t want to have to clean it up. But for some reason, it’s unacceptable to say, “I don’t want to clean up after you, Soren!” I laugh so hard at this fake, imaginary person who loves cleaning up after people but loves politeness more.

“Do the parents care?” “No. I mean, they get mad, but they don’t really do anything.”

I’ve been doing a lot of eavesdropping lately. Not necessarily on purpose, but it’s just been happening. I work at a moderately hipster, reasonably priced popular grocery chain. And what I’ve learned in the almost five months I’ve been there is that nothing makes you more invisible to people than working retail. People, bless their hearts, really are blind to you.

The other day, I was manning a register when, behind me, a customer was loudly monologuing about the upcoming Super Bowl. “Tom Brady’s so mentally strong,” she was trying to convince my co-worker who, bless her, does not watch football. “He’s totally mentally strong,” she shouted into the void. When I turn innocuously to catch a glimpse of her, she latched onto me. “You watch football right?” she asked without waiting for me to answer. It’s a minute later before I found a dip in the conversation to say, “No, not really.” She bore a more-than-passing resemblance to Jenna Lyons, the former creative director and president of J.Crew – slightly more mannish and full, but strangely magnetic.

Even after we’ve all affirmed that we, unlike her, do not watch football – I’ve watched one game this season – she continued to launch several rhetorical questions into the open air. Receipt in her hand, she kept going. Next customer being rung up, still she stood talking. And finally, when she said her goodbyes and pushed her laden cart out of the store.

Days later, she came to my register and started talking – mercifully, not about football. She was ranting about The Walking Dead before offering up, sans spoiler alert, “Yeah Carl was bitten.” And when I said, “Oh I don’t watch that show,” she repeated the spoiler, “Yeah, he’s the son. He’s annoying. He’s dead, well, not yet but he will be. That show’s really going off the rails.” To so brazenly offer up what was surely a pivotal twist in the series without even the slightest concern or spoiler alert – what if I were watching the show? – was shocking. When I offered up that I was currently watching The Crown, she pivoted easily and naturally. She had not seen the show but her brother-in-law was the owner of some football team and also an ambassador to the U.K. She dug up a picture of him meeting the Queen and attempted to show me several more Instagrams before the lack of Wi-Fi foiled her. She would, she promised me, show me the photos next time.

As she left, I had to fight a smile from creeping across my face. When I first escaped her football speech, I pictured what the rest of her day must look like, as I often do with customers. I pictured her talking the ear off of other mothers at drop-off; I pictured her loudly holding court at the dinner table. I pictured her as loving fiercely, but suffocatingly. But something about her vicious lack of wherewithal about name-dropping shifted my lens of her.

She just, bless, didn’t give a fuck. She wanted to name-drop, and so she did. She had opinions about The Walking Dead, so she shared them. She had an effusive admiration of Tom Brady, so she expressed it. It didn’t matter to her that no one shared in her journey; an audience was entirely beside the point. What I had interpreted as an inability to read the room was actually just blind conviction. And there’s something about bald and bold confidence that draws me to people. People so often step around how they feel, like those girls did with Soren. Instead of just saying, “Fuck off Soren, I’m not your maid, I’m your babysitter. Now clean up the floor,” she couched it in the way he (or she, the name Soren leaves the gender mysterious) handled the dropping. But I imagined that “Mentally Strong” would have no problem eviscerating Soren. And Soren would probably, eventually, be grateful for the straight talk.

People so rarely say what they mean. We’re wrapped up in manners and culture – it’s not necessarily a bad thing – but it was so arresting to see someone so unconcerned with the norms. A normal person would exchange meaningless banter at the register – their weekend, the weather, perhaps a recipe or two. But for her, all the world’s a stage.

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Humor, Life, Mental Health, Things Happening RN

Lol – I’m Depressed

It was probably the eighth time that I went to open a Word document to write a blog post, hovered over that blue W and then flicked my finger away that I realized something was probably wrong.

It was probably when waking up left me feeling more tired, the kind of deep, head-wrapped tired that dips your bones in wax.

It was probably when the thought of sending an email filled me with enough anxiety to justify binge-watching the latter half of Real Housewives of New Jersey. (I also just, like, had to do this. Siggy is crazy, y’all).

It was probably when depression curled itself around me like an angora sweater-shawl that I realized something was up. A blend of cashmere and sadness.

Depression is weird because even when you have a “handle” on it, it can still surprise you. I’ve been in therapy on-and-off since I was fifteen; I’ve had ups and downs and I thought that I was pretty solid on my mental health. Even so, I would be surprised to realize that the few “bad days” I was having, where nothing seemed to go right and my thoughts couldn’t be quelled, were small depressive blips.

In lay terms, I often describe those blips as a common cold. It knocks you out of commission for a few days; it makes you a little fuzzier and a little slower; you don’t realize it’s happening until it’s almost over. But, in the same way that a healthy person always seems a little in denial that their body is fallible, I’m always a little naïve that I can fall prey to these blips.

This last time has been more than a blip: a blap, perhaps, or even potentially a bloop. Depression is wild because it completely changes your way of thinking and distracts you from itself. It’s the Cheshire cat of mental health: me not being able to write a coherent blog post, or answer an email suddenly gets attributed to other things – I’m not funny or talented, or I still can’t figure out if “Best, Danny McCarthy” is going to be my email signature. It took a few days/weeks to realize, “Oh, it’s been you beside me all along.”

I live for a romantic comedy, but not one that ends with me and Depression kissing in a gazebo.

This bloop was brought on by a myriad of things, none of which were particularly noteworthy or memorable in and of themselves. I’m applying to grad school and wading through applications. I’m working. I’m trying to find a psychiatrist. I ran into my major high school crush whilst at my day job when I was underslept and overshaven. I’m living in my childhood bedroom. I graduated from college and I’m spiraling.

There’s no real button to this blog post that’s neat or clean. I’m still having a bloop; and I’m doing self-care in the ways that I know how: forcing myself to write, doing pull-ups and listening to a lot of Kelly Clarkson. I think it’s important to write this because I often feel that whilst I’m in the moment of a bloop that I can’t talk about it: better to wait until it’s over and then I can be triumphant and saintly and tough. But that’s not realistic, and that’s not relatable. And as much as I worry that these seem like “Cry for Help” posts or pity parties, I know that they’re not. I’m fine now, and I’ll be fine later. I don’t want to wax poetically about how I “made it through, and you will do.” I know I’ll make it through, and I know you will too, but hon, we’re here for the moment. Might as well lean into that angora and be honest.

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Humor, Rambles

THINGS I WANT: A Brief But Important List

This is a list of things I want. It does not include any career goals, relationship milestones or monetary hopes. I obviously want all of these things and you know it, Thomas.

1). I want to one day write a book of essays, and I want that book of essays to be adapted into a television show even though I hate when they adapt anything to television because it never works.

2). I want acne cream that dries instantly so that I can sleep without having to do so lying flat on my back like Meryl Streep in Death Becomes Her or Jessica Lange in AHS: Coven.

3). In the television adaption of my book of essays, again, which I will hate, I want the lead character (playing me) to be so attractive that people are annoyed and severely disappointed when they find out what I look like, much like when I saw “Shattered Glass” for the first time. I deserve my Hayden Christiansen moment.

4). I want to be famous enough that I get a rider, and I want that rider to be exclusively about the various kinds of chapsticks I need: I’m talking a Nivea “Olive Oil and Lemon.”

5). I want to have weather told to me exclusively in terms of clothing I need to wear. “This morning will be green flannel with a high of t-shirt underneath.” I have neither the ability or the time to think about what “60 degrees” means for my body.

6). I want Bachelor in Paradise to not be two, two-hour episodes a week. We all know that you can skimp the less attractive people’s dates. We won’t mind.

7). I want someone to finally teach me how to properly shave the weird underneath-my-chin area. I’ve been shaving for seven years, and somehow manage to only increase my razor-burn. My neck hairs grow in odd directions. Guidance, anyone?

8). I want a loofah that doesn’t immediately unravel after one use. I would even stand for two uses, but really I’m burning through loofah cash that I don’t have.

9). I want to be able to block certain hot gays from popping up in my Instagram Discover because no matter how many times I do, they keep coming back. I don’t need to see those abs every two weeks – I already have enough issues to bring to my therapist.

10). I want world peace. Also I want a Herschel backpack. One of these things is more within my grasp.

This was dumb, but it was sitting in my yet-to-be-published cache, so here we are.

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celebrity, Humor, music, pop culture, social media

TAYLOR SWIFT WON’T STOP MAKING ME LOOK AT WHAT SHE DID BUT I DON’T KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS

The chorus of Taylor Swift’s lead single, “Look What You Made Me Do,” off her new album Reputation (yes, I’ll still give her promo because I’m weak!! I’m only human!!) triggers in me a reaction I did not think it was possible to have. No matter how many times I listen to it, the chorus manages to surprise me, and not in a sexy way. It surprises me in the way of accidentally stepping in something wet when you have socks on.

This, however, does not mean that I have abstained from listening to it or that I’m not excited for the album or that I would ever turn down the opportunity to work for Taylor (being slim and model-like, I would be an excellent to her squad, but would settle for doing some writing for her or even being a lamp in her office. I’m flexible, Taylor, and that’s one of the many positive qualities I would bring to employment with you).

My adverse reaction to “Look What You Made Me Do” is most similar to eating something that you have a previously unknown allergy for. Not bad, but more…uncertain. It’s like me and avocado: I don’t know if I’m allergic, but my tongue sure does feel funny after eating it.

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