Essay, Life


“That’s where I made out with a girl watching Julie & Julia!”

“That’s where my grammar school best friend lives. He’s hot now.”

“That’s where I played football and prayed for a broken finger.”

“That’s a Wendy’s.”

Over the weekend, some college friends drove down from Boston and stayed with me. To give them the biggest bang for their buck, I assessed my town and the surrounding area for the Greatest Hits of my life.

Theoretically it’s not difficult. I live in a historically-significant area, full of ancient churches, old big-money family castles and interesting architecture. It’s also thirty minutes from New York City, but I’m not outsourcing my hometown pride to Manhattan. Not chic. I planned out a weekend that catered specifically to my friends: food-centric, a little bit lazy, and nerdy. They’re so lucky to have me, I s2g.

But in planning that weekend, I rediscovered my hometown and my own emotions towards it. I moved to my town when I was eight, entering a new school halfway through the year. This is a fact that I have repressed and forgotten until writing this.

Being the new kid, coupled with the fact that I was un-athletic, annoying and gay, marked me instantly as different. I moved into the suburbs, where the boys balanced sports the way I do Kardashian gossip Instagrams (see, I’m so gay – just picture that in the third grade). Eventually, I made some friends and settled in, but I always felt like I smelled new, different. Kids sense difference intrinsically, like dogs and high notes, and it was made clear to me that I was never a native. Eventually, I grew up and stopped caring, and went to high school and college.

In the weeks before, and in the days during, showing my friends around forced me to take a critical look at where I lived. Whenever I was somewhere interesting, I made a mental note to show it to my friends.

Days before they arrived, I took my dog to a nature preserve. I’ve been going there forever, and it’s a special place for me. When I was a kid, I used it to project my fantasies (epic wooded battles, or tense discussions echoing over the frozen lake water).

Ten steps into it, my dog refused to walk. Rather than go back (I used gas, sweetie – you’re walking on this path) I scooped him up and put him in my coat. He’s small, but thick, and so as I walked (arms aching) around the lake, it triggered one of my earliest memories of the preserve.

When I was nine years old, my family took the same nature walk. We had just gotten the dog. It was snowier then, and he was smaller. I unbuttoned my jacket (denim, lined with Sherpa) and nuzzled him against my shirt, buttoning the jacket over both of us. He was probably not even six months old then, and here he was again, thirteen years later, pulling the same shit. It hit me, all at once, how long I had been walking this exact nature path.

I remembered that jean jacket. A classmate, whom I later found out had a massive crush on me, negged me by telling me her brother had the same jacket but found it to be too feminine (not that that stopped me, honey). I also remembered holding my dog in that same coat one winter and him vomiting wildly over it.

Later, driving around with my friends, I pointed out different places – where I ran track; the field where I, at eleven and weighing as much as a small bird, played football as a defensive lineman and spent the entire season praying for a broken finger. The movie theater where I made out with my first (and only) girlfriend. The houses of childhood friends. My grammar school and corresponding parish church. The Starbucks where my mother and I had our first honest conversation after I came out of the closet. We drove along the Hudson River, and I pointed out the park I went as a teenager, the houses I had campers at during the summer, the high school where I went to one, very awkward high school dance.

I had never let myself settle into my town in the same way I had with my summer camp: a constant regardless of where I lived. I measured my life in those summers, where I started at three and worked until I was 21. The friends, the enemies, the moments. When I think of my childhood and early adulthood, that’s where I go.

But, in spite of myself, I had formed a sentimentality around my town, the school, the fields, my house. Even carrying that New Kid scent, I had formed memories in this area. These places were honeycombed with memories: pediatrician’s offices, hay rides in chilly October, hikes throughout my life, kisses and tears and tantrums.

Showing someone else your town, trying to expose the beauty and the specialness beneath the mundanity, felt a lot like taking stock of your own self. I had grown up here; I had evolved here. It’s something I took for granted forever. Since moving back post-graduation, I’ve had a complex relationship with my hometown (it rings a little too close to Failure to Launch, and if anything, I’m the Sarah Jessica Parker of my universe). But taking other people through my childhood sentiments, I warmed to my places in a way that I hadn’t realized.

2018, celebrity, Movies, pop culture, social media


Header source: MIKE NELSON/EPA-EFE via USA Today

Last night was the 2018 Golden Globes. I did not watch, but *shocker* I have opinions.

While scrolling through Twitter because Keeping Up with the Kardashians was boring – if it’s not a pregnancy confirmation, I’m rapidly losing interest – I saw that Greta Gerwig, the writer and director of Lady Bird, was snubbed for a Best Director nomination. One could always make the argument, “Oh maybe she wasn’t the best director?” which would be valid if not for the fact that she was nominated for Best Screenplay and Lady Bird was nominated, and won, for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, and Saorise Ronan, the actress portraying the lead character in the film, was nominated, and won, Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy. Laurie Metcalf was nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture.

Sis, Saorise Ronan won when nominated against Judi Dench, Helen Mirren, Margot Robbie and Emma Stone. And while Saorise Ronan is an incredible actress, she was directed by an incredible woman – Greta Gerwig.

There are a lot of reasons why I’m upset that Greta Gerwig wasn’t nominated. Lady Bird was an incredibly beautiful, and personally moving, film. It portrayed Catholicism and high school and youth and parental relations in a way that felt seen, not dumbed down, and funny.

In fact, despite directing passionate, beautiful and interesting films – Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman, Dee Rees’ Mudbound (the latter of which Mary J. Blige was nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture) – Gerwig and other female directors were not even nominated in that category. Instead, the list of nominees for Best Director were entirely male and entirely white.

Again, you could make the argument that the nominations were based on merit – these are all incredibly talented nominees. But, hon, you’d be wrong. How can a film win Best Picture if it had an awful director and writer? How can a woman win Best Actress if she were not guided by an amazing director?

Natalie Portman remarked on the inequity while presenting the award for Best Director. “And here are the all-male nominees,” she said.

And here’s the thing: this is not the moment to be snubbing talented female directors, and it belies the troubling nature of Hollywood. Sexual abuse, harassment and assault was rampant in the entertainment industry – it is not limited to that industry; harassers and abusers plague every work industry – but Hollywood is quick to applaud their own action. Men wore “Time’s Up” pins on their tuxedoes; Ryan Seacrest and Giuliana Rancic replaced their “Who are you wearing” with “Why are you wearing black?” But that’s a lot like politicians offering up “Thoughts and prayers” after tragedies. What we want is action; we want reaction; we want laws and retribution. There were sexual predators, assaulters and abusers in that crowd; some of them probably even received awards. We’re not ~done~ with this movement, and I don’t think we will be done for a long time.

There were highs of the night: women like Debra Messing and Eva Longoria mentioned Catt Sadler’s pay inequality. Seth Meyers, as much as a white, straight man on NBC’s payroll could, addressed the fact that this is the first awards show after the massive saying of names.

Oprah received the Cecil B. DeMille award and gave a speech that touched upon sexual assault, the heartbreaking way it affects black women and women of color in particular – she told the story of Recy Taylor, a black woman who was raped and who Rosa Parks investigated on behalf on; Recy’s white assaulters were never charged. “She lived, as we all have lived, too many years in a culture broken by brutally powerful men. And for too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth to the power of those men. But their time is up.”

It’s frustrating to see that women are shouldering the burden of reminding us about sexual harassment and assault and urging us to act. It’s frustrating to see that more men have not stepped up to the plate. This culture of harassment, misogyny and sexual abuse was allowed to continue entirely because of the passivity of men. They, we, need to be doing more. We need to be stepping up and showing that we do not co-sign the actions of men like Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey. We need to be doing more, and I hope that we will.

“In my career, what I’ve always tried my best to do, whether on television or through film, is to say something about how men and women really behave: to say how we experience shame, how we love and how we rage, how we fail, how we retreat, persevere, and how we overcome,” said Oprah in her speech.

“I want all the girls watching here and now to know that a new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say, ‘Me too’ again.”



I’m by nature a sentimental person; I hoard train tickets, old books and worn-out sweaters. So the New Year can definitely be a trap of saccharine platitudes, but I figured that (as a part of my New Year’s Resolution) I would write something small to bring in the new year.

• • •

In 2018, I wish for retribution and comeuppance for those, many of them men, who harassed, abused and maligned people under them, many of them women.

I wish for a cleaner understanding of where we go from the weirdness and pain of 2017.

I wish for clarity, for my friends and our journey deeper into the post-graduate sphere.

I wish for action that follows action; like empowering black women with more than a simple “Thanks” after they turned the voter tides against Roy Moore for Senate; like protecting and uplifting queer people, people of color, women, immigrants, the disenfranchised, and particularly for any who have an intersecting identity of any or all.

I wish for spines, for those who stand on the sidelines and empower by omission.

I wish for cleansing of Instagram envy and LinkedIn covetousness.

I wish for a deeper understanding of the pregnancy situation in various unnamed American socialite families.

I wish for fiscal responsibility, for a better understanding of taxes and retirement.

I wish for grace under pressure.

I wish for more confidence in tackling challenges of work, journalism and adulthood.

I wish for us to leave Hillary Clinton alone, and to further unpack our own roles in passivity.

I wish for a better iPhone.

I wish for shows that I like to get recognition, and for Vine to come back.

I wish for media that shines light in dark places, that limns authenticity and provides platforms for those who deserve it.

I wish for grit for people who stand up against the machine and perseverance to stand by their truth.

I wish for empathy, in times when that is the hardest and sparest commodity.

I wish for us to talk about what we like more, and to love more than we hate, and to uplift more than we diminish.

I wish to understand how Owen Wilson still gets roles, and I wish for the maturity to be happy for him.

I wish for good things for Kelly Clarkson, for no reason other than that I think she deserves them.

• • •

I don’t think that what plagued us in 2017 is over, but I do think that it was a beginning step into something better. Let 2018 continue the trend of toppling patriarchies, providing stages for minorities, and righting some wrongs that have gone unacknowledged.

This year was, as Sarah Silverman said in a monologue on sexual harassment for her show I Love America, “like cutting out tumors. It’s messy and it’s complicated and it is going to hurt, but it’s necessary. And we’ll all be healthier for it.”