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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2018, Life, Rambles

GOLDEN HOUR

Written while sitting outside Starbucks in the sun, surrounded by wealthy mothers with Goyard totes, sipping on a tall cold brew (in a grande cup, for maximum product!) and streaming Kacey Musgraves’ “Golden Hour” off the titular album.

I just got back from a weekend trip to Boston (Chic! Tea!), and it’s the first time that, despite having gone back for weekend trips before) that I stepped actual feet back on my college campus since I graduated almost exactly eleven months ago.

When I went back up in October, I was fresh and wounded from the school year having started (the first one that I was not there for) and so I avoided it on purpose. I was starting a new job, but I was definitely far from settled, and didn’t know what I was going to do with the rest of my year, let alone my whole life. I still don’t, but things are slightly more settled.

This year has been an unintended sabbatical and break for me. After graduating, I had these unformed plans of “Graduate. Move home. Find job. Rinse. Repeat.” I graduated; I moved home; I started applying for jobs. I rinsed, I repeated.

I emailed a local magazine on a whim to do an informational, and ended up with some freelance writing. I got a job doing freelance copy-editing and dipped my toe into a full-adult-human workday. To make up the in-between, I applied for a job at a local Trader Joe’s. I started studying for the GRE and began researching graduate programs. Slowly slowly, I began to fill up my days and the months began to pass. The panicked, failure feeling began to dissipate (not completely, but in small bits).

With the extra time, I dove (well, tepidly stuck my toe in and then dove) back into therapy. There were serious things that I wanted to tackle, things that I had not had the time, mental capacity or vocabulary to tackle before. Before, addressing certain topics would make them real, which would make them impossible to ignore, and would therefore open me up to vulnerabilities. This year was an entire twelve months of vulnerabilities, so I figured there was no time like the present. Why not knock out all of my anxieties and issues in one fell swoop? (It’s not that simple or that clean, but honey let me have this!)

I have not successfully come out on top of any of the issues that I wanted to tackle (if anything, they’ve proved to be more complex and multifaceted than I originally believed) but they no longer feel insurmountable. They no longer feel like cracks in my pavement or deal-breakers. In short, I no longer feel unfixable.

I’ve also incorporated more color into my wardrobe. If you’re thinking, “Whoa! This is a shift from talking about psychiatry!” then you’d be right but you’d also be not in my brain. A lot of how I dressed, dark colors and baggy cuts, was to detract attention away from my body. I wanted to have attention, but I didn’t want my body – or what I considered to be a coterie of problems – to be at the nexus. But over the last few months, as I’ve been opening up about the sources of those issues, I’ve felt myself craving color on a level that I never have before.

I wore a glorious gold hoodie over the weekend, and endured some teasing from my friends about its vivacity. But I didn’t care because it was so sunny and beautiful and eye-catching. I picked up two t-shirts – one pale pink and one pale yellow – from a local thrift store, colors I would never usually gravitate towards. But I’ve felt more confident, and with wearing color, I feel like I’m saying, “You can see me. I’m okay with it.”

I’m hitting a golden hour of sorts. I’ve endured gray moments over the past year, some downright turbulent and stormy, but I can feel myself hitting my stride. Large parts of that are due to being more settled – in life, grad school, and myself. But I think it’s also that I’m, for the first time, allowing myself to be seen – to be opened up in different ways.

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music, Rambles, Things Happening RN, Things I Like

WHO’S GOT THE BEAT: I TRY TO FIND NEW MUSIC

Historically, I have bad taste in music. I don’t think so, but I’ve been told so. I have the kind of musical taste that people will unceremoniously aim for a new vibe whenever I have control of the aux cord. In conjunction with that, I’m also picky. I’ll listen to the same song over and over until I’m sick of it, then I listen to it even more until I hate it, and then I’ll move onto something else. If something doesn’t immediately jive with me, I don’t give it any chance. This combines to making it extremely difficult for me to find new stuff. I’m writing this is the hopes that I can The Secret new music.

Over the past few days, with an unusual ferocity, I am deleting songs that I don’t listen to on my Spotify. I’m a hoarder by nature (thanks Dad!) so I hardly ever delete music – what if it’s the exact song I need to through that tough set at the gym?? What will I do then? – and I’ll just skip through until I find one I like.

Eventually, I realized that I was spending more time skipping through songs than I was actually working out/modeling in front of the mirror-wall. Beyond that, I basically only listen to Cupcakke’s new album, Ephorize, at the gym anyway, so I don’t know why I haven’t just caught on and put that on shuffle yet. Too old to learn but too dumb to realize, I guess.

Suddenly, everything in my library annoys me, and it’s kind of no wonder. Currently, it’s an emotionally disturbing cross-section that includes The Greatest Showman soundtrack, music by drag queens, piecemeal rap, and Kelly Clarkson. I mostly listen to music when I’m at the gym. When I’m driving, cooking, walking, doing laundry, sitting quietly in the corner, I listen to podcasts. But I find podcasts hard to listen to at the gym – either they’re too funny, and I laugh at an inopportune time, or I find that it doesn’t propel me forward in my workout. So the music I tend to gravitate to at the gym typically is super-emotive and thinspiring.

But I’d like to get into more music, and the road I’ve been traveling down is just not cutting it. Roughly every six months, I pick a new vibe and cultivate music around that. In the autumn and winter, I’m moodier and rocky-er. I pick songs that are similar to my youth (I was formulated – Powerpuff Girl-style – on the Kooks, Arctic Monkeys, Florence and the Machine, and Rilo Kiley). In the summer, I live for a good bop (Carly Rae Jepsen – more like Carly Slay Jepsen! I’m gay and I hate myself). Two autumns ago, it was a Bastille-Halsey moment. Last summer was all about Grace Potter. This summer was dedicated to Kesha, and in the autumn, I fell back in love with Joanne and Miley Cyrus’s Younger Now.

But lately, I’ve been going further and further down a country/folk/rock/indie avenue, and I need help. The vibe I’m going for this spring and summer is “chill” meets Call Me By Your Name meets “indie rock” meets “country pop” meets “long, winding summer road” meets “pine tree” meets “winsome romance.” Unsurprisingly, that is not a “Mood” that you can click on Spotify’s Browse.

I created a SS18 (spring-summer 2018) playlist expressly for the purpose of encouraging the new sound, and it’s definitely threadbare. Their “Recommended” and “Discover Weekly” features are also a total let-down, because it pulls from the songs that are in your library. For me, that produces a heavily-skewed coterie that’s more suited for poppers and raving than it is for me living my actual, human experience.

Music, for me to get into it, has to invoke a strong emotional response. You know how there are some people who can listen to an album and “appreciate” it? Or sit through a terrible art film and “examine” it? That’s not me. Ephorize makes me want to be a total slut; Vince Staples’ Prima Donna gives me swag; Kelly Clarkson’s Meaning of Life fulfills every karaoke fantasy I’ve ever had. I’m in a period of flux at the moment, and I’m kinda teetering on Big Adult™ decisions, so I want something that reflects that and inspires me.

I’ve started listening to a little more country – definitely country lite, like Maren Morris, Kacey Musgraves and Russell Dickerson. I’ve been in a more softly contemplative mood lately, and I find that mindless pop – that includes you, Katy Perry, with your “activist” pop – isn’t really cutting it for me. I used to hate country music – it was too square and too heteronormative and square – but I like what it feels like for me. It feels a little evolving, and a little slow, and a little contemplative. And that’s, overall, the vibe that I’m aiming for in the next few months.

If you’ve got any suggestions, or any advice on how to find new music, plz send me a postcard. I need your help. America needs your help.

https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/1237130065/playlist/0JQlpZOW32PIBaUQTJ6sxo

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Life, Rambles

SEEING HIM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Rambles, Thinkpiece

WHAT IS MY VOICE?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And I lied – I’m a New York 7.

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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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Mental Health, Rambles, Things Happening RN

MENTAL HEALTH IS CHIC, YOU GUYS

In typical fashion, I had a perfect title before I had anything else even written.

I just sent an email to a potential new psychiatrist (in the event it works out and I eventually tell you about this, hi hon!). While I was in school, I utilized our student health services and saw the same psychiatrist on-and-off for about three years. Always check out the resources available to you, especially when you’re at school—I’ve heard some horror stories about SHS, but I’ve always had good experiences.

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