Body Health, Essay, Mental Health


In my first-ever gym class of high school, we underwent a fitness diagnostic. Our gym teacher required the students to perform as many chin-ups as they could. If they were not able to do a chin-up, he offered, they could simply hang from the bars.

The oddness of those two choices – to either perform an act or engage in something that arguably proves nothing except the presence of fingers – was further underscored by the vast breadth of physical prowess. If you had hit puberty by then, you could do chin-ups. If you hadn’t, you hung like a limp flag or, more realistically, the trussed and plucked chicken hanging in a meat shop. Since I’m barely hitting puberty at 22, it’s an easy guess to figure out which camp I fell into.

That did not stop me from pathetically attempting a chin-up. I didn’t realize that it’s nearly impossible to do a chin-up from fully-extended arms, so I tucked my knees underneath me and tried to pull myself up from ramrod-straight arms. After several tense, physically agonizing moments, I let myself hang quietly before dropping back down to the floor.

And I remember, in the seconds that I hung from the bar, thinking how completely pointless this exercise was. Gym class proceeded much in the same way; after freshman year, I just opted to do homework with a clutter of the other unathletic boys while the fitter ones fucked around with dodgeball, or whatever. By senior year, I was skipping out of gym entirely – using my senior privilege and status a runner to avoid it. But, to be honest, having a gym class once every six days wasn’t doing me, or anyone, any favors.

So for most of my life, the chin-up, and any desire to do it, eluded me. When I started working out in college, I hopped in and out of the chin-up phase. Once I realized that clinging to the bars and literally leaping up into a chin-up position didn’t technically count, I swapped to the assisted pull-up machine and avoided it whenever I could.

The assisted pull-up machine requires you to put your knees on a pad and subtract weight from your total mass. So if you’re 160 pounds, and you subtracted fifty pounds, you were doing the chin-ups with a body weight of 110 pounds. I was subtracting so much weight that I was actually flinging myself upwards with every pull and reaching an exosphere orbit.

I would eye the people who could do a pull-up or chin-up unassisted with hot glowering envy. It seemed literally impossible, and then I saw people actually adding weights to their own self and doing repetitions with that. That was as unbelievable to me as those stories of mothers lifting up cars to save their loved ones – actually more unbelievable. I began to measure my prowess in terms of how many unassisted repetitions I could do – one was bad, two was better, three was ideal.

But as I worked out more, I began to reacquaint myself with the pull-up machine. As I lost weight and gained muscle, the notches of the weight began to shift lighter and lighter. Eventually, I was doing ten to twenty pounds of assistance, for a weight of roughly 185.

And then, a few weeks ago, I decided to leave the pad entirely. Straining, I pulled myself up – my elbows narrowing into neat acute angles – and down. When I completed sixteen chin-ups, four repetitions in four sets, I fell into a crouch and felt my heart pump blood headily into the aching muscles. But I kept doing it. every day, at the beginning of my workout, I did sixteen chin-ups – always in four sets of four – before moving onto the rest of my workout. I found that the less I focused on what I was about to do, the better I performed. If I hesitated, arms extended upward but feet still on the ground, I could barely get myself into the air.

I began to change it up – I added another set of pull-ups to the routine. Eventually, I switched to sixteen pull-ups (working the back muscles, shoulder muscles and the latissimus dorsi muscles). I tacked on a set of chin-ups, and on arms days, I would do sixteen of each.

I’ve noticed more muscle changes in the few weeks that I’ve started doing unassisted pull-ups. My shoulders are squarer, my collarbones swoop with the graceful lean of ship’s bows, and my biceps are bigger. In the shower, I catch glimpses of back muscles rippling in ways that they didn’t before. I’m obsessed with my shoulder blades, their hookedness like two eagle beaks.

Unfortunately, like a lot of people, I have a complex relationship with my body. And I’ve often leaned on the gym in unhealthy ways, eviscerating myself on days when I had to skip, or punishing myself for days that I didn’t push myself as far as I could’ve. In my most depressed, the gym becomes more of an outlet and a crutch. Before, when I looked my best, it’s often because I was feeling my worst. At a particular low point in college, mental health-wise, I would escape to the gym for hours every day, later pinching the fat on my hips as it melted away. I obsess over my body’s aesthetic, how this looks and how this lays.

I’ve always carried that anxiety when going to the gym; that I could backslide and become obsessive again. I still have lingering habits, a twinge of despair when I weigh myself, or a slight internal battle about how much cardio to do. I take my backslides softly, and slowly, and I’m trying to treat myself gently. It doesn’t always work, maybe not even half of the time, but I try.

Doing these pull-ups aren’t about how they will make my body look. It is a physical challenge, a test of my own strength – something that doesn’t come from aesthetics alone.

But this feels different for me.

When I’m doing pull-ups, I revel in the strength as I lift upwards. I imagine all of the scenarios where I can pull myself up. Action movie scenes, where the ground falls away beneath me and I have to swing myself up from the lip of a cliff. Deep dark holes that I’m trapped in. American Ninja Warrior monkey bars. I revel in getting stronger, and it feels wholly unconnected to aesthetics or attractiveness. In every muscle micro-tear, I steel myself with strength. I feel myself getting stronger, and I nourish it like a seedling. I picture myself as a warrior, each line of muscle meaning that I am more capable, more sturdy, more indomitable.

It isn’t about how I look – it’s about how I feel.

And damn, sis, I feel good.

Humor, Life, Rambles


I’m not going to lie to you guys—I didn’t dress up as Bob Belcher from Bob’s Burgers for Halloween. I was totally going to, but I put on the t-shirt and sweatpants and looked down at myself and felt so acutely un-cute that I was like, “Errrr.” And then I was in my kitchen and my flatmate comes in and he asked me what I was doing for Halloween and I told him and then he asked me when I was getting into my costume.

“I am in my costume,” I stare at him.

He stares back at me. Eyes flick down to the sweatpants. “Oh. I thought you were in pajamas.”

I wordlessly scream at him.

So I decided to put on a pair of black skinny jeans, draw a tombstone on my shirt and write “My Dream” above it. I was going to write out “My Dreams” but I’m not good at planning and—frankly—I ran out of space. And then on top of that, I painted my face like a skull.

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 8.49.11 PM

Really, I’ve never looked better.

So for Halloween this year, I went as “My Dreams Are Dead!”

“Oh!” My mom shrieked a little bit when I showed her my make-up.

I felt bad for ditching my original costume, but I didn’t feel that bad because it’s not an actual person and even if it was, I have difficulty processing emotions. So. On Actual Halloween I went to a club with a DJ who insisted on playing The Worst Of The ‘80s and then we waited in line for almost two hours to go to this really fancy 24-hour restaurant on the 40th floor of a downtown London skyscraper to have duck confit and waffle and by the time I got home it was 5:30 am and even now everything is fuzzy. On Fake Halloween—aka Friday—aka the Beginning of Halloweekend—

Side bar: I fucking hate when people say Halloweekend even though I used it this weekend but I’m allowed to (ironically, obviously)


Danny + Jenny 4NEVER

—I went on a pub crawl in a ~hip~ and ~cool~ part of London called Shoreditch and I was a sexy lumberjack—short khaki shorts that I cuffed even higher on my pale thighs; red flannel shirt unbuttoned almost to my bellybutton; gray beanie—but to make it ~spooky~ I painted on a slit throat because I wanted to add depth to my performance. It was very well received. People were very attracted to me. Rightly. Interestingly enough, people were less attracted to me when I was a skeleton, even though my entire mug was completely covered in paint. Weird.


Speaking of ugly mugs, I was looking through pictures of people I went to high school with. AYOOOO WHAT A SEGUE. No there is really something very satisfying and emotionally vindicating about going through the photos of people from high school and being able to decide whether or not they’ve gotten worse-looking or not.

I was talking to a guy I went to high school with; we were friends but more friendly but friends but also I think we were both a little bit of a bitch in high school and that really bonds two people. My friend—let’s call him Lucas—also likes dudes so we were dishing and there is something very satisfying about talking to someone from my high school—all boys—about boys. I was grilling him about his hot friends. He wasn’t grilling me about mine because I was the hottest friend. And then we just started looking at the guys we went to high school with.

Some of them have gained what I call the “Fratty Fifteen” where you join a fraternity, drink enough beer to feed/drown an Amish village, and gain fifteen pounds in your neck/face area, and also I’m hotter than you. Side effects of the Fratty Fifteen also include a beer gut and a superiority complex inherited by me. So yeah, a bunch of them look like forty-year-old dads and I am living for it.

Still stings. Just kidding I'm fine. I have no pride or dignity.

Still stings. Just kidding I’m fine. I have no pride or dignity.

Of course there’s the guys who have gotten way hotter since high school but those I just make into voodoo dolls for later. Halloween may be over but being a witchy bitch is year-round. It was nice to connect to him. Lucas, if you’re reading this, you go girl! And if you can’t figure out if I’m talking about you, dafuq dude? Seriously?


white ppl, amiright?

white ppl, amiright?

With the advent of a new month, I have done away with all of my Halloween social media fixings. For my laptop wallpaper, I went with a simple Pinterest-y background. I try to find something funny for my wallpaper, like “Hocus Pocus and Chill” but nothing really funny happens in November and Thanksgiving isn’t really funny because of the Trail of Tears and smallpox and just generally white people and also feeling fat, so I decided to go for the “pretty” route.

@thedanosaurus #shamelesspromo

@thedanosaurus #shamelesspromo

For my Facebook and Twitter headers, I went for a “Queens of Cooking” theme and did Ina Garten for my Twitter, and my Kween Kris Jenner on the kover of her kookbook. Also, why has Kris Jenner not released a holiday-themed cookbook and called it “Merry Krismas?” Like I don’t want to do the job of her marketing team, but come on people the opportunity is shaking its tits in your face. Metaphorically, of course.

@KrisJenner, let's talk about

@KrisJenner, let’s talk about “Merry Krismas”? Call me?

My phone background is currently Kris Jenner and Ina Garten as well, but that’s more of a placeholder until I find something else. I change my phone background more than Kylie Jenner changes wigs—

*Holds for canned audience applause and knocks on my microphone—“Is this thing on?”*

—and it really depends on my mood.

Side bar: it took me a solid five minutes of minute adjustment to get these photos centered. So be happy. S/o to Shelby. Ily and our joint love of artisanal glass-blown dildos. And that’s not the only thing being blown. AYOO I’ll leave.

  12188861_10208362593329558_183573037_n   Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 9.28.54 PM


I went grocery shopping today and bought more donuts. I regret nothing. I regret some things. But not this. Never this.


P.S. I look so chiseled as a skeleton.

Okay bye!

Xoxo Gossip Squirrel

I want to get this to 1000 words, so imagine that Gossip Girl was actually a squirrel.



I was thinking about high school today, and not like an overarching “best years of my life” golden nostalgia, or a “fuck that cess-pit” vitriol, but just about popularity.

Usually, when people ask me if I was popular in high school, I generally say yes. Okay, that’s a little bit of an under-statement. I usually say, “Yaaaaaaaaaas.” But I wanted to seem not weird. I mean, I wasn’t like the party-starter or the fire-starter or the non-starter, but people knew who I was and I wasn’t generally egged in the halls.

Looking back, I’m realizing that people knew who I was because I was essentially a human firecracker shitting out rainbows—I was The Gay Kid. There are other LGBTQIA+ people I graduated with, and that were in the grades below me—but the ones who were in my grade weren’t as socially tone-deaf as I was, and so I was kind of Queen of the Gays. No big deal.


Funnily enough, I never officially, publicly came out in high school. I’ve been out since I was 15, but that was to my friends and family and sometimes random strangers, but I never had the ominous “Yes, it’s true,” Facebook post. Somehow everyone just knew, but I feel like I contributed to it by being like, “Ugh, yes Zayn’s biceps are godly.” That probably was been a little too “homo” for a “no homo” to save.

But I was thinking about popularity and high school and all the boys I stalked on social media—

Side bar: So unrelated, but I had a major crush on a boy in high school and I used to go to his Facebook page so often that I could click on the search bar and his fucking profile would pop up. That’s the digital equivalent of the Kermit the Frog sipping tea meme.

—when I remembered a little occasion where I really felt I had eclipsed the bigotry associated with being stone-cold gay in a Catholic, all-boys prep school. Yeah, that’s where I got my high school diploma.


There was this guy in a math class of mine, who I knew just like tangentially—as in we had had friendly conversations about the Pythagorean Theorem—who I found out didn’t like me. Actually, he really didn’t like me.

I found this out through Paul—the scrumptious bby of a friend I mentioned in my last post—who was talking to this boy—I guess we can call him…ugh, what’s like a really regular name, Herbert (?)—basically about how much I suck as a person.

Essentially, this is how the conversation went when Paul told me about his discussion with Herbert:

ME: (probably looking at myself in the mirror)

PAUL: So I had an interesting conversation with Herbert.

ME: Which Herbert?

PAUL: Herbert C.

ME: Oh, we had a class together!

PAUL: Yeah. We were talking about how he didn’t like you.

ME: I’m sorry, what.

PAUL: Yeah, and we had this long conversation and finally came to the conclusion that he doesn’t like you for your personality.

ME: Why the fuck are you telling me this?

PAUL: No but don’t you see how great this is? I showed him that the reason he doesn’t like you isn’t because you’re gay, but because he hates your personality.

ME: Yeah but he still doesn’t like me.

PAUL: Yeah, but not because you’re gay. This is progress!

ME: (shatters mirror)

Aside from the glaring issue of Paul have the social tact of an elephant, I was—shockingly—not pleased to have my bubble burst. I thought that everyone loved/tolerated me. Or if they hated me, I could brush it off. But no, apparently my personality was anathema to my classmates.

Now, a few years after the fact, I think I can appreciate that not everyone will love me. Just kidding, it still bugs me. But I think I can accept the fact that it bugs me. And maybe one day I can appreciate that not everyone will love me. But by then, I plan on being so famous that I can sweep away in my Givenchy—okay, reading back, I can understand why Herbert might not have been a fan. It makes a little bit of sense.

High school is such a weird time, because I don’t think you can replicate it with any other type of experience. It is the absolute fucking worst, but there’s something amazing in that worst-ness. Like, college is amazing for learning to lean on yourself, but high school is the first time you can really chisel away and see yourself. You can rage against the flat botanical wallpaper of your surroundings; you can seethe and fall in love and wallow. I mean, you can do that in college and in life, but there is something uniquely beautiful about the passion of high school emotions. I don’t think I loved or grieved as fully as in high school, because it was such an incomplete, full-thrust power.

That got really serious, so let’s bring it back to the silly. Once, in summer camp, when I was doing the deep-water test, I dove into the water and my bathing suit slipped down to my knees and everyone saw my butt.