Inspirational, Life, Mental Health

FOR THE SAKE OF THE GOLDEN RATIO

Partially inspired by my latest podcast interest Who? Weekly (I think I’m going to leave “obsessed” and “obsession” in 2016), I decided that I need to follow more celebrities on Instagram. Let me back up and explain myself, because this is going to be a wild ride.

In order to obtain a better ratio—thusly avoiding social media humiliation and ostracizing—I often unfollow celebrities whom I follow on social media platforms. I do this because A) they’re never going to follow me back, and I firmly believe in a “Follow for follow” maxim, and more importantly B) I’m afraid that if I unfollow people I know that they’ll somehow realize and unfollow me, thus ruining all the careful calibrations I made to achieve the ratio.

Side bar: has anyone factored the “Golden Ratio” into Instagram ratios? Just a thought.

Side bar update: my ratio is not the Golden Ratio. And I did math to prove this. Is this interesting? The golden ratio is that the ratio between the two individual numbers is the same between the ratio between the total sum and the larger of the individual numbers. The ratio between my individual sums (followers vs. following) is 0.501, and the ratio between the total sum and the greater individual is 0.666. Oh my gosh, I just wrote that out and how spooky!! So, like, how do I get the the golden ratio? If more people follow me without me following anyone (unlikely) the first ratio will decrease, so I need to follow more people without other people following me (very likely). Therefore, I’m perfectly warranted in following garbage celebrity accounts, because I’m in pursuit of the Golden Ratio!

I can’t believe that I just used math in a productive way. I might be the next (what’s his name, the guy who was in The Theory of Everything?) Stephen Hawking! Wow, that just mitigated any progress I thought I had made, because I only knew him from the Eddie Redmayne movie (a name which I knew instantly).

But in the pursuit of the perfect ratio (let’s think of a different name for it, since it’s not the Golden ratio…Silver is too high…Bronze is bourgeoisie…Tin! The Tin Ratio!) I unfollowed every semi-interesting non-friend account. That led to my Discover page becoming increasingly scattered as it, panicking, tried to find edgy fun accounts for me to look at. And I was not pleased. At all.

Before I decided to play God, my “Discover” was full of fat-to-fit Instagrams, hot dudes working out, photos of the Kardashians, and delicious potato products. Now, I only really have pictures of the Kardashians (AND NOT EVEN KIM), and pictures of this one hot gay that a few people I know follow, so he’s always there—some sort of karmic retribution for me somehow, I’m certain.

There are “suggested” videos for you to watch in a constant stream. Mine were usually grouped into the categories of “Boston Terriers” (<3) “Extreme Weight Loss” (-_-), “Make-Up Tutorials” (thanks Kylie; no seriously, thank you so much for all you do), and then just random food-making videos or cake-decorating. I was living the life, and I didn’t even know it, is the crazy part. I had so much going for me. Then I decided to tamper with my ratio, and I lost everything. But isn’t that always the case? Wolf of Wall Street, Picture of Dorian Gray, etc.

And as 2016 ends and 2017 is poised like a loosened gargoyle hanging above you off a dilapidated cathedral in a French noir film, I think it’s important that we give ourselves as much joy as possible in the face of…you know. Everything.

(As I’m writing this, a bunch of no-name robot Instagrams are following me, thus driving me deeper away from my Golden Ratio dreams) 

I followed a few YouTubers I watch (I watch luxury haul videos as a method of stilling my anxiety, which might be the gayest thing about me currently), some “celebrities (?)” like Chrissy Teigen (I know she’s like a celebrity, but is she a celebrity-celebrity? I didn’t even know who John Legend was until “All of You”; like, I really like her, but I like that she’s kinda solidly B-list even though she’s friends with A-list people), some reality television ‘stars’, A BUNCH OF FOOD BLOGS, and Taylor Swift. The last one is truly so dark, that I don’t even know why I did, but I think it’s the best thing for me rn.

When I was a kid/young teenager—and my best friend can attest to this (he doesn’t like the pseudonym I gave him but I haven’t thought of a new one yet)—my iPod (classic, duh) I had a total random collection of music. I don’t know if there is a statute of limitations on this, but I used Limewire when I was young. I would download everything and anything so that if someone looked on my iPod, they would think that I was cool.

And I thought that I had shaken that habit, but I did the same thing with my Instagram. I didn’t want to follow the girly fashion bloggers I like, or the horrifyingly funny joke Instagram accounts. I was curating my following list for someone who doesn’t exist and doesn’t care. And for what? So that someone someday would think I was cool? I want to be happy and enjoy something stupid and fun if that’s what I want, not look at a boring Instagram feed or an iPod (well, not an iPod because it’s 2016) of unlistenable music.

I just watched a great video about the Law of Attraction, and I think that it’s something I’m going to take into the new year. I’ve been repeating, in various articles, that 2017 is going to be hard. It will be. That’s not crazy for me to say. But how I deal with it, how I react to it, is up to me. And I know that these could just be empty words, and I could go on operating from my base level, which is pessimistic. But fuck that, you guys.

Fuck it.

I’m going to be positive. I’m going to see out the golden ratio of good energy in my life, and I encourage everyone else to A) also seek it out and B) send it/$20 my way. Much appreciated. But in all seriousness, I’m really going to seriously try. I know people in my life who are always getting good things their way, and it’s not because they’re sitting on their asses. It’s because they’re striving towards it.

There’s a great series of books called the Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. In them, she deals with this idea of “thisness” and “thatness.” It’s in specific relation to essentially witches who can manipulate matter by accessing the similarities in molecular structure—am I the smartest fucking person or what?—but there’s a great quote that is also touted as an aphorism (seriously so fucking smart):

Like calls to like.

Putting out good energy calls to good energy. Positivity breeds positivity.

This got surprisingly deep for a post originally about how I followed a bunch of Foodstagrams, but I’m not hating the place it went. Have a great day! (See what I did there? I’m outputting positivity!)

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Source: Giphy// I want more of this in 2017

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Humor, Inspirational, Life

HOW TO TRICK PEOPLE INTO THINKING YOU’RE MORE ATTRACTIVE THAN YOU REALLY ARE

I’ve been spending a lot of time with my friends JR and Loren recently—not their real names, to protect anonymity, because since I’m a celebrity, my security detail thinks they’re at risk for my crazed fans (Stars: They’re Just Like You). We’re all very smart dumb people—meaning we talk about smart things, but we’re dumb as fuck so it doesn’t go very far—but we were actually talking a lot about buying the right size clothes for your body.

And that got me thinking about what actually makes a person attractive because someone—probably me, I’m astute like that—said that when someone wears clothes well (fit-wise), they can basically pull off anything. Like, I can’t wear mesh because I’m not confident, but EJ Johnson—son of Magic Johnson and kween of Rich Kids of Beverly Hills—can wear all mesh and it looks completely normal because he’s so confident. Also his skin is smooth as molasses; it’s insane. That’s not the point though.

So because I attempt to convince everyone in my life that I’m hot—by saying things like “I’m too pretty to be this smart” or “It’s hard because this hot” or “I’m hot. Say it and I’ll let you go back to your family. Say I’m hot.”—I thought I would share that knowledge that I, as a smart dumb person, have gathered like our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Also, side bar, why is it that when our ancestors traveled without roots around, looking for food, they’re “hunter-gatherers” and when I do it, I’m “trespassing in a McDonald’s after hours”? It’s simply situational.

What if the entire list was just “Do cocaine and get super skinny” and then I just pressed the “h” key for ninety lines? Is that quality content?

How To: Convince People You’re Hotter Than You Actually Are 

1). Move really fast: They can’t make out your features if you’re blurry. If you get motion sickness—guilty—then you can wear a large Sia-style black-and-white wig.

2). Haircut: I search for a haircut that will suit my egghead with the same fervor I can only imagine a mother looking for her child in a mega-Costco has: we know what we want, we just can’t find it. I like to say that I look like a thumb, but I look a little less like a thumb when I have a good haircut. Also, when getting a haircut, it’s important to be vocal to your hairstylist. I’ve left Supercuts plenty of times looking rekt because I was too much of a mouse to tell the hairdresser to chill out.

Also side bar: A “trim” to my bangs does not mean “cut enough off where I can’t sweep them to the side and they just hang there like bats.” I cannot stress this enough.

3). Be rich: If you pay people enough money, you can make them say anything. Examples: psychics and Bethenny Frankel’s assistants.

4). Correct sizes: After years of squeezing myself into a certain waist size—which I will not disclose online—I realized that not breathing wasn’t fun and also when you wear too-small pants, it pushes your love handles up and while push-up bras are great for boobs, the same sentiment does not extend towards love handles. So I decided to actually go up in my pant size, and I was really surprised at how much better it made me feel. I’ll never not have body issues, but after a brief anxiety-spiral, I convinced myself that going up one size does not mean that I am a mammoth beast. It actually made me look better.

I went through a phase where I thought that if I wore small shirts, I would look muscular. That’s not true; it just looked like I fell into a coma from the ages of twelve to eighteen and hadn’t changed my clothes yet. Now I fall into the camp of buying larges because I like things loose, but sometimes I’ll spring for a well-cut medium if I’ve been really regular and my stomach is flat. Is that too much information?

5). Confidence: People are gullible, so you can pretty much do whatever you want if you’re confident enough. I’m extremely gullible and pretty malleable, so if someone suggests that someone else is attractive, I get Inception-ed into believing it. I know someone who, without confidence and hair gel, would look like a Big Bang Theory extra, but as he is now, I would pour pig’s blood over myself if he asked. God he’s so hot. You know when medium-looking people manage to get really hot people? Sometimes it’s a Mail Order thing, but sometimes it’s just that their confidence is through the roof. Or the hot people are interested in “personality” which is a very ugly-person thing to be into, so I don’t think that’s it.

Convincing people you’re actually more attractive than you are is a lot like The Secret. It’s a lot of positive reinforcement, book clubs, paper cuts, direct eye contact and pure, unadulterated aggression.

Here’s a free tip to close out the blog. One way to make people think you’re more attractive than you actually are is to actually downplay your real level of attraction. Some ways to do this are to pretend to be “shy”—like how post-makeover Mia Thermopolis still had the personality of pre-makeover Mia Thermopolis—or to write blog posts like “How To Convince People You’re More Attractive Than You Actually Are” in vain attempts to get people to reach out and say things like, “Why did you write this? How can a 10 convince people they’re an 11/10? That scale doesn’t exist!!!!!!!!!!!”

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Source: Moviefone // I don’t want to be rude but how relevant is Moviefone still?

But that seems so desperate, so who would ever do something like that?

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Inspirational, Life, Rambles

BAD DIVING BOARD METAPHOR

(Written in front of Tatte Bakery while shivering violently and pretending that I’m not)

Today in the last British Literature class I’ll ever (hopefully) take, my professor asked us if we write in journals. He did, and he said how fun it was to look back on journals from years ago and read what he thought. I had to bite my tongue to avoid plugging my blog (because not even I’m that obnoxious to do a shameless plug in British Literature)—

I should point out, legally, that I have actually put my Twitter/Instagram handle on the blackboard in this class; but that’s less of a shameless plug and more of a public service to my classmates. @dnnymccrthy on Instagram and Twitter.

—and thought back on when I had my old, horrific teenage blog—The Amazing Unicorn Files—where literally all I did was talk about boys I had a crush on, Honey Boo Boo (she was big in 2012), and vaguely offensive satiric “articles.” I have since shoved a stake into that blog’s heart and started this wonderful old broad. And this Elaine Stritch of a blog—shocking, funny, elderly—has morphed to be greater than TAUF. I get to write about politics and pop culture and what’s happening in my world.

But when I look back on this blog in a week, or a month, or a decade, I don’t think I’ll care about Donald Trump—unless he’s Il Duce Trump by then—or Lemonade or what queen went home on that week’s RuPaul’s Drag Race. I’ll still care about the Kardashians obviously, but that’s because I’ll be curious to see how Kris Jenner manages to outlive everyone else in her family.

I’ll care about what I felt, and what was happening in my life. What boys I liked, and what friends I had made, and how good I looked that day. I plan on getting extensive plastic surgery when I turn 40, so it’ll be nice to be able to look back on that youthful boy that I’m desperately trying to recreate.

So I just finished the last day of classes in my junior year. I still have finals and papers to write and loose ends to tie up, but that’s next week and an eternity away. Right now I’m sitting in front of a very chic café, watching cars go alongside my table and shivering from what I’ll say is the cold but might just be the coffee that I’m sucking down but don’t want to acknowledge because coffee shouldn’t make me spasm like a dying fish.

I’ve just finished my junior year of college and the long slab of summer lies ahead of me, but it’s weird, right? It’s odd. Suddenly, I’m about to reach this huge milestone—21, senior year of college, the world beyond—and it feels like it’s all happening too soon. I’m a kid. I don’t know how to get a job. I just figured out how people get cake pops to stick together. I can’t provide for myself. I can barely provide a hilarious one-liner response to cute cashiers.

I have friends who are graduating in a few days. I have friends who are engaged, or are in relationships that could blossom into long-term situations. I can see people going into jobs that lead to careers that lead to the rest of their lives. I can see it all, and it’s making me want to break a table. Because my life is one big sexy, messy black hole.

I feel like I’m always referencing my Brit Lit class, but bear with me. we read Gerard Manly Hopkins this week, and his poetry stuck in my brain like a half-remembered song. He writes like I write, adjectival and messy and complicated and complex. It’s a structure compounded words and thoughts, weaving together to create a parts-of-the-whole thing. And that made me flutter. Because here was someone who did what I want to do. Who was a writer and successful (I mean, he died at 45 of typhoid or something, and all of his poems were published posthumously, so I don’t want to do exactly what he did, also he was a priest which is so not my MO, but still) and loved what he did.

I can’t see my future and I can’t see what the next step should be, but I know what I want my narrative to be. I want to be able to get a job where I can be weird and funny and write in my voice. I want a cool life. I want to not find love right away and be able to have one of those twenties where I can have a shit ton of content off being a twentysomething. I want to live somewhere warm. I want to laugh until I cry, and choke on food and cackle-scream. I cackle-scream now, but I want to keep cackle-screaming.

(I had to move inside because I was cold and can’t pull off that “artist suffering for their work” mentality.)

I want all of these things and it’s weird that they’re beginning to be possible. That in a year, maybe less, I’ll have to start making big-boy-out-of-Pampers decisions. What a horrific image. Maybe I can pull a Lisa Rinna and make my money off adult diapers. That must be my rock bottom, but no one says you can’t make bank on the bottom (insert filthy joke here).

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Source: riffsy.com

I don’t want this to turn into one of those fucking annoying feel-good posts, or one of those “Don’t make me adult” travesties. I want to adult. But it feels a little like being a kid at my grandma’s pool club. There was this huge dive—literally massive when you’re six—and one day, I decided to conquer it. Obviously this is a metaphor—pay attention.

I was—am—a total chickenshit, so I don’t know what made me think I could confidently pull this off, but maybe even then, I was trying to self-destruct. I climb up, and I’m eager. I want to be at the top; I want to make the jump. And suddenly, I’m at the top, and the breeze is stronger up here than it was on the ground, and everyone looks tiny, and that water looks like it’s going to hurt an awful lot from this high up. And so I’m torn, because I want to jump, but suddenly I’m thinking about the very concrete logistics. What will I look like as I fall? Should I tuck my arms in? Fling them out? How deep into the water will I go? Should I scream?

Then the lifeguard and my sister hovering on the top of the ladder are letting me know that I’m holding up everyone and I have to jump. I have to disregard all the questions and queries and potential situations. And so I curl my toes over the edge as the diving board wobbles underneath my weight. And almost before my brain can become okay with it, my feet make my decision for me and step off the edge.

The way down is as ungraceful as I feared, and the primitive instinct within me is making me flap my wings but if I’m a bird, I’m Big Bird, and I’m plummeting to the earth with the help of vengeful gravity. And I hit the water like a cannon, and shoot deep into the depths. My palms sear from the impact, but I float upwards without thinking and start swimming.

I’m hoping that life after college will start like that. That my body will move ahead of my over-agonizing mind and my palms will sear from the pain but that I can rely on muscle memory and start swimming towards something, anything.

I just had a really good conversation with a friend—let’s call her Libby—and she basically said that after college you just look at what the next best decision is, and you take it like that. Step. Step. Step. Evaluate. Step. Step. And if that’s not exactly what you meant, Libby, frankly take that up with my lawyers. Creative license. I’ll have my day in court.

I’m on that diving board and the wind is picking up. It’s fucking terrifying, but I’ve seen all my friends jump, so I have to assume that there’s something spectacular in the deep end. At the very least, there’s got to be something spectacular in the fall. And maybe that’s all that we can be promised at this point as soon-to-be functioning people. The fall is fun and shit-scary and your palms with sear with the impact but you’ll start swimming.

That seems like enough metaphors for today. This was fun. This was right.

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Source: Giphy

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Inspirational, Life, Love & Romance

YOU’RE NEVER REALLY UNLOVABLE AND YOU’RE NEVER REALLY THAT UGLY

Friday, February 26

“Also, I was fat this week, and that really sucks.”

It’s minute 42 on what should have been a thirty-minute meeting with my psychiatrist, where we would ideally—like, idk—talk about my medication and stress levels. Instead, with the blind ambition of Donald Trump, I barreled on through a hefty dissection of what had happened to me in the two weeks since we last met.

I’m a relatively busy person—I write for this old whore of a blog, I contribute to an online publication, I’m an editor for a campus magazine, I work out five times a week, I am taking classes, I have a job, and I try to find time to watch Netflix because god knows I’m still only human. So, all in all, that really does actually take up quite a lot of time to relay.

I’ve been taking meetings this week with a couple of new writers for my section, which requires me to meet them and talk about what we “do” and what I’m “expecting” from them, and I’m not sure if it’s the stress getting to me, or if I’m actually turning to wax, but my mouth kept doing this odd, robotic twitching—almost a lock-jaw—because I was so hyper-aware of how I was talking. So with my weird mouth and my penchant for talking, the roof of my mouth has become that sick mixture of too dry but also too saliva-y after yammering on for 42 minutes.

And at the end of a long diatribe about housing for next year, I decide to tack on the sentence about feeling fat.

An acute dislike for my body—body “issues”—has always been a facet of my personality, long before I realized that it wasn’t normal to hate your body and think that you look like a troll baby. Apparently I’m dumb as rocks, because it also took me 18 years to realize that being super depressed and constantly bottling up one long scream isn’t normal either. But there’s a learning curve. And with my psychiatrist, the ideas of dating and body are always intertwined.

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Source: Imgur

And because I felt fat, I felt undeserving of even thinking about other guys. There was this guy at the gym who is a total LA beach Ken-doll twink (not exactly my type but I’m mesmerized by his bleach-blond tips) and I was like, “Who do you think you are, you Joey Fatone, looking at him?” Which is absolutely the most fucked up thing that I think. Because I’m not nearly as judgmental of other people as I am of myself. And even the guy that I’ve liked the most, even though he was so cute—omg, you guys would dieeee—it was his humor and how smart he was and his ambition that made me interested.

And I went to lunch with a friend after the meeting—well, first, I went to the gym—and I ate a salad. I hate eating salads. I like salads with attitude, with panache—a little smattering of caramelized pecans or a slab of goat cheese or a sick dressing—but dining hall salads only serve to make me feel like I’m gnawing on a piece of Astro-Turf. And so when I was thinking of stuff to cook for dinner, I was kicking myself for not defrosting a chicken. And I thought to myself, “Well you can’t have pasta, you little tubby Howard Taft” and then I got mad at myself and said, “Fuck that,” and I ate pasta.

(Actually, hold on, I’m going to defrost a chicken cutlet right now.)

Literal minutes go by.

(I put it in the refrigerator to defrost; the cutlets were all frozen together so I had to 127 Hours one away from the rest.)

I think that this casual disdain I have for my body is almost as negative as me outright protesting against it. Because this way, this subtle “fuck you” thinking, sinks into my skin and my brain and my way of processing. And I want to get to a place where I can eat pasta and work out and not feel guilty or stressed or vile for having done one and not the other.

And so I’m going to type this out because Lord fucking knows that I don’t believe it. But sometimes writing out positive things helps to balance out the Macarena of Negativity in my head—also that’s totally the next big dance craze. So I’ll say this: you’re never really, really, really that ugly. You’re never unworthy of talking to someone or looking at someone. And you’re 1000x harsher on yourself than you are on anyone else or than anyone else would be on you, aside from if you were a contestant in that beauty pageant in the “Pretty Hurts” music video. But regular life isn’t like that.

Like yourself even when you don’t love yourself. Find one positive thing to say about that old burlap sack of meat you call your body. And maybe start by not calling your body an “old burlap sack of meat.” Call it a “human clothes hanger” or “a moving mannequin” or something funny. Respect your body because it’s how you interact in this world. Acknowledge the fact that millions of years of evolution—yeah, I went there—have coalesced into a four-limbed, fragile, resilient human body with the capability for love and hate and passion and fear and bravery—respect that your body is the product of a billion years of test-drives until you arrived on the scene.

Don’t treat yourself like a test-drive or a crash course. Treat yourself like a Mercedes G-Wagon—beloved, cherished, and competitively stalked by me from the sidewalk.

And, I think, cherish things beyond your body. Because when you acknowledge how amazing you are—inside—it becomes easier to accept your outside. Think of yourself like how I thought of that boy—smart and clever and yeah, maybe his cuteness was an added bonus, but his substance was infinitely more enticing—and treat yourself like a g*ddamn queen.

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Inspirational, Life

THINGS I’M EXCITED ABOUT

So I’m stressed to impress right now. It’s a combination of lots of homework, the vague impending threat of midterms, personal ish, a lot of writing but little of me, and just the general state of the world. And usually when I’m stressed, it’s reflected in my writing. I focus on more negative topics, or I write about being stressed. Spoiler alert: that was going to be my topic for today. But I’m over feeling this way, and I know that if I write something negative, rather than have it be cathartic, it’ll just make me feel more stressed.

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Source: Tumblr

So I’m doing the opposite. Instead of focusing on the things in my life that could easily make me want to pull my hair out, I’ll focus on the good things; the things that I’m excited about.

 

Things I’m Completely Jazzed About:

 

1). RuPaul’s Drag Race: This season (season 8) will mark the second time I’ve watched a RPDR season while it’s current. I watched last season while it aired, and then caught up with seasons four, five and six over the summer. But there’s something I love about watching a show week-to-week. Bingeing is amazing, but it can’t account for the fun of counting down days or making time in a hectic schedule to sit down, unwind, and indulge for an hour.

2). Broad City: I love Broad City and the new season has aired. The premiere episode wasn’t, for me, something to write home about, but I can’t wait to see what they do with the rest of the season. Abbi and Ilana are so funny and sharp and clever, and I think that they’re going to completely add to the pop culture landscape this season.

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Source: Bustle.com

3). The Amazing Race: I’ve never watched The Amazing Race before, but this season is “Internet Influencers” and I love me some digital peeps. Again, I’m very into episodic TV-watching, and even though I hate waiting a week in between, it makes each episode more rewarding.

4). The spring: Usually, I find spring boring. It takes too long, and it’s unsatisfying, and it just feels like one long waiting game. Also I’ve never been completely secure with my body—actually I’m actively insecure about my body—so I normally hate any season where it means I have less fabric to wear. But I’ve become less and less in love with winter the older I get, so I’m actually looking forward to spring. Also, I’ve been getting more into fashion lately—like, actual fashion, and studying trends—and I want to implement what I’ve seen online in an actual springy reality. Also I want to wear shorts. And I want to be okay with my body. And I want to wear these really cute J.Crew olive green shorts with an oversized denim shirt and my sick white Stan Smiths. It’ll be so cute, with my hair (hopefully) grown back to a sweet swoop and some metallic sunnies.

5). Smoothies: Warmer weather makes me think of icy fruit smoothies after workouts with my sisters. I don’t really do smoothies at any other time of the year, but something about the summer, and the free time, and the indulgence of preparing a smoothie and enjoying makes me feel happy. And it’s relatively healthy. Plus most fruit skeeves me out, so I try to make up for that with smoothies.

6). This trash heap blog: It’s not really a trash heap. I just don’t know how to express affection. But I’ve really enjoyed experimenting with different styles and topics—did y’all notice how I talk about politics now??—and I think it’s help me to rebrand the blog, at least in my mind. But I think I want to reincorporate some personal essays like I used to. I’ve laid off a bit partially so that I could store up some life experience and partially because I wanted to try other things, like What Happening RN and such.

7). Finding new Spotify playlists: Spotify does a pretty decent job of coalescing artists I might like into those “Discover Weekly” playlists. I’m listening to one right now, and I don’t think there’s anything quite like discovering a song that you didn’t know but really loving it. I’ve also been branching out into different genres, specifically rap, which are excellent for working out to. Plus they’re insanely clever. Childish Gambino is wicked smart. And Kanye, for all his ego faults, knows his stuff. I would’ve said “s***” but I’m trying to curse less. It really puts me in a bad state; it primes me for negativity.

8). Not needing a number 8: I really like doing things in eights now; 10 is usually the number we strive for but I like the roundness of 8. So this number 8 is a non-number, because I want to have 8 points but I couldn’t think of an actual 8th thing. I have tricked you.

*****

This actually helped a little. Do you ever watch those YouTube gurus who do Q&A’s? they always get a question about how they stay so positive, and their answer is always, “It’s definitely work. But you just have to work at it.” And you’re gripping your screen, thinking, “What an asshole.” Because that’s actually the most unhelpful advice ever. But there is something to the madness. I didn’t give in to my stress and focused on the positives. And that made writing this post really fun. Because at the end of the day, this blog isn’t supposed to be work. It’s supposed to be pleasure and creative and my outlet. It shouldn’t feel like a job.

I want to thank Marco. For texting and being there; and I love you. This is our little can-and-string moment. 😉

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Essay, Inspirational

WHY POP CULTURE MATTERS

A large part of why I am often hesitant to label myself a “journalist” is due to the lack of representation that anything other than “hard news” gets in journalism classes. Professors act on the assumption that we all want to be helicoptering into Iraq, or walking the streets of a broken-down city to get a story of a struggling kid with a heart of gold. They act on the assumption that those kinds of stories, hard news and gritty, are the only of substance.

And while there is literally nothing wrong with that kind of reporting—we obviously need it—I’m tired of that being the primary. I was in a journalism class where the professor was discussing the skills we’ll need if we want to succeed. But those skills were only really marketable if I’m going to be pursuing a career as a Woodward and Bernstein “on the case” reporter. He demerited the importance of “first person narrative” and how it has no place as the first mode of storytelling.

But the kind of journalism I want to do—pop culture—relies on my voice and my narrative and the ability of an audience to trust me to be funny and knowledgeable and real. And I couldn’t maintain a straight face because, three years into it, I was tired. I was tired of feeling like I was dumb for wanting to talk about pop or that my career wouldn’t have as much value as if I was to follow a more traditional career path.

Not every journalist wants to write for the New York Times. Not every reporter wants to be going undercover, tailing a lead or spending hours into the night poring over ancient tomes. And that’s okay.

I love pop culture. I love dissecting it and discussing it and thinking about it. Because pop culture, of which celebrity culture and the “Stars: They’re Just Like Us” is only a very small part, is the representation of what people are thinking. And that’s as important as knowing what’s going on. I love people—from celebrity to politics to local news—and I love studying them. I love seeing what makes them passionate or angry or happy. I’m a pop cultural anthropologist.

And here’s why pop culture matters: because we can take individual celebrity instances and stretch them into a wider scope. Nicki Minaj calling out Miley Cyrus publicly at the 2015 VMAs pointed to the complex way that the media portrays black women. The world buys into the “Angry Black Woman” model and it plays out over and over, with Nicki, or with Amandla Stenberg. And the portrayal of Caitlyn Jenner as the leader of the trans community because of her white, priviledged, and cisnormative conventional beauty is a reflection of our desire to keep the status quo. Because trans people aren’t making her their leader. Cisgender people are looking to her because she is palatable.

Pop culture brings conversations of cultural appropriation, transgender politics, and gender equality into the public dialogue. And that’s important. And it’s important how we laud women like Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Schumer for being “real” while simultaneously shaming women by putting a size 10 model—below the national average for women’s sizing—on the forefront of the Calvin Klein “Plus Size Range.” And even the fact that we use language like “plus” to alienate woman and other them is mind-blowing.

Pop culture simultaneously shows how far we’ve come and how far we have still to go. It can be both serious and silly, stimulating and mindless. And that’s why it’s amazing. Because it is what we are talking about, what we think about. And if the day-to-day journalism of pop culture is as prevalent in our lives as hard-hitting news, why is it not represented in my journalism classes?

I just want to feel like my interest is valid. I want to be in a classroom where I can stand next to someone who wants to write about Middle Eastern conflict and I can say that I would rather discuss the career trajectory of Hollywood It-Girls or the media empire of the Kardashians. Like, wouldn’t that be so cool?

And on a large scale, wouldn’t it be so cool if we could all feel accepted and lauded for our career interests?

If you have an interest and a driving passion and it’s not hurting anybody and you want to pursue it, I want you to. I want to write about pop culture and write books about myself and review TV shows and live-tweet the red carpet of the Golden Globes. And that’s dope that I want to. Like, I’m not cooking cocaine in my kitchen. I just want to be weird and funny and make people laugh and think. I want to be someone’s “having a bad day so I’m gonna read this.” I want to be someone’s security blanket. I want to uplift and take our collective minds off the bad things and just, if even for a moment, laugh and cringe and be happy.

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And that’s as important and as valuable as being a New York Times reporter. Cue the Hailee Steinfeld “Love Myself” emotional collage.

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Inspirational, Life

HOW TO BE GAY

Being gay is really hard because how do you be gay? And by you I mean me. I don’t think it’s a well-kept secret that I am high-key intimidated by other gay guys because I feel like they’re so much better at being gay than me. But what does that even mean?

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I never kissed a boy until I was 18. I never went on a date until college. I have never had a real, adult, full-fledged relationship.

I came out when I was fifteen to my parents, but didn’t tell my friends until sixteen, and the wider world until eighteen. When I was in high school, I was fighting against the Puritanical rigors of high school at a Catholic all boys institution. When I got to college, I was suddenly in this world where I wasn’t fighting for recognition. No one really cared. I was like, “I’M GAY WORLD,” and everyone was like, “Yeah okay, can you keep it down? It’s quiet hours,” and I was like, “Oh okay sorry, so sorry.”

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So here’s how you be gay.

1). You stop caring. You stop trying to compare yourself to other gay guys, other straight guys; just other people. You stop counting the dates you’ve been on or haven’t been on. You stop worrying about the “gay voice.”

When someone told me that they didn’t clock me as gay because I didn’t sound gay, I was almost reverse offended. When I was younger, my voice was outrageous and explosive and expressive. It entered the room before I did. That “gay voice” that I hated so much as a kid, forced me to be who I am today.

2). Ask out whoever you goddamn want. This is really hard, because I am a serial psycho when it comes to asking people out. I wait and wonder and wilt until the last second before asking someone out. I almost get a perverse pleasure out of people saying no, because deep down it fulfills the dark feelings I have of not being good enough. It validates me and strangles me. So stop worrying about getting rejected. Stop thinking that you’re not cute enough or thin enough or muscular enough or clever enough or funny enough.

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3). Educate yourself. Being gay is a gift because you are awakened to the struggles of other oppressed people. Being gay is also a gift because sometimes you’re able to “pass” as straight. It’s a privilege that other people of our community, trans men and women and gender non-conforming people, don’t always have. So recognize your privilege, and educate yourself to the struggle of others. Our eyes are opened to the wider world, but we need to do something about it.

4). Have fun. People always wonder why I don’t like scary movies. I like comedies because life is enough of a drag. Be light. Take joy in the small things. Take joy in the victories. Utilize self-care. Love yourself. Have a blast.

5). Don’t worry about fulfilling expectations. I oscillate a lot between feeling like I need to be super outgoing and be making out with boys and going on dates and trying to buck stereotypes and just be the opposite of what everyone thinks gay guys should be. I am gay, but sexuality should not be your first and foremost. Create your life as a fully fleshed out person, not with the expectations of other people in mind. I am a late-bloomer; I am emotionally unprepared sometimes for deep relationships. And that’s not a bad thing. I am exercising self-care and putting my needs before my desire to please others.

Being gay is hard because there’s no rulebook. There is no “norm.” Be gentle with yourself. Run your hands gently over your scars. We’re all scarred.

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But you have a choice on how you deal with your scars and your past and your future. So don’t be afraid to fuck up and fall on your face and be goofy and be sexy and be confident. Because that’s the whole point of being twenty and young and vivacious.

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