a life worth living

And so a new dream emerges.

It is quieter and (arguably) smaller and I will not give full voice to it just yet, lest the fairies be listening. The dream is still unspoken, but The Dream, always, has been the same:

(or: my disney hero i want song)

I want to show up in the mornings. I want to smile and help and earn my means to drink too much iced coffee, feed my cat, and visit Disney World twice a year.

Then I want to go Home. Home to my blue room, home to my sweet orange kitty, home to my queer body. Home to where I write and publish and scheme and eat sloppily constructed 10 pm quesadillas atop my pillows.

I want to be a playwright and so I shall be. I am a playwright because I write plays and not because someone older has deigned me worthy of doing so.

I want to revel in my queerness. I want to make of myself a garden: colors and explosions and friendly amphibians lurking in the pond. Maybe this is the second puberty talking, but I want to keep dying my hair and get tattoos and dress like 70’s Elton John and be loud and laugh too hard and squeeze your hand too tight.

I want to want without forgetting what I already have, without diminishing the sparkle of where I have already been. I am Dani Fucking Herd, I write plays and I feed turtles. I speak Shakespeare and I write Good Omens fanfiction. I quote Walt Whitman and I cry at just the thought of whales. If you don’t keep an eye on me, I will eat all the popcorn before the movie has started.

Being trans does not mean I am lonely. Being bipolar does not mean I am broken.

“luminous beings are we.”

And so I am. And so are you.

september bi, bi, non-bi: and i think it’s gonna be a long, long time OR: fuck you, j.k. rowling

For Trans Day of Visibility 2021: the first time I said I was trans out loud. ❤

hope is the thing with lightsabers

Originally performed for The Come Up Show ATL’s birthday show on Friday September 25, 2020.

CW: internalized transphobia and mention of She Who Must Not Be Named. Guard your beautiful heart.

Non-bi, and only non-bi this month: 

Related to absolutely nothing: it’s Mark Hamill’s birthday today and I want to raise a glass for a hero who has never let me down. I am 31 and I still want to grow up to be Luke Skywalker.

A year ago, my wonderful friend Jake invited me to perform for a show in his living room. He asked me what my pronouns were and, for the first time in my life, I tiptoed into telling the truth. I remember answering him in a Facebook message and then thundering downstairs to the Shakespeare Tavern green room to hug him, to thank him.

Sometimes it just helps to be asked, you know? Because sometimes…

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a story of rejection and updates, also all lemon cookies are inherently gay

(i don’t know why. i just feel it in my bones.)


I definitely didn’t get into grad school. A panel of important people read my play about monsters working at a doughnut shop and they kindly said, “Oh, no, thank you.”

And I didn’t get that job that would have paid so much more money.

And I wasn’t even invited to audition for the “all-female” Shakespeare play, because I guess the patriarchy doesn’t hurt non-binary actors too?

And, while we’re at it, I didn’t get to be on the 8th grade basketball team way back when.

And… it all has to be okay, doesn’t it? Everyone says to save your rejection letters and I think I get where that comes from, but I do not seek to be a collection of wounds. 

The point, I think, is this: All those things told me “no” and I bought the gay lemon cookie this morning anyway. I’m down, but I’m not so out that I can deny myself the springtime joy of an iced lemon treat. 

(My personal Renaissance will be both slutty and citrusy. Prepare thyself accordingly.)


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Thanks for being here. For reading and engaging. I don’t always know where we’re headed, but I’m glad we’re going there together.

of home (again, i think)

first of all, it only started raining on my walk HOME from picking up my bagel and my iced coffee.


i have struggled with this concept my entire life. my alien body has choked on sobs in the dead of nights and i have begged to the moon, “i just want to go home.” i have spoken this on full voice from my own bed, because no physical space has ever sat just right on my skin.

“home,” today, in the most conventional sense is this room where i write and drink iced coffee and try to hold it together enough to do my jobs and where i sleep and where my cat sleeps.

Home is also this body I am learning to name and to feed and to please and to take on walks and to offer tithings of purple hair and the idea of tattoos and the promise of dragon con costumes.

because i think that’s where the sobbing and the pleading and the near-praying came from, right? i never believed my own body could be home. for years and years, it was just a trap. a puzzle box i couldn’t solve, couldn’t get out of.

the glory of my transness is that i do not have to solve the puzzle box. i am a puzzle and i do not have to beat myself in order to survive. i do not care if you especially understand. i do not live to be understood. i do not take up space to make you comfortable.

(like, sure, i hope you are, of course. can i make you some tea? can i pour steaming water from my shaking boy-fingers over your leaves and will you drink and trust me?)

i have spoken before of monstrousness and i will say it again: the monster of my brain is not to be slain, not to be conquered. they are to be soothed. they will always take up space here, in the home that is my body. they are my forever roommate and they fucking suck at doing the dishes, but hell, i’ll still go in together on a pizza order with them from time to time.

“it’s enough that you want it.”

what i want is simply, only this.

to be gentle with myself.

dancing with monsters

It’s not time to make a change
Just relax, take it easy
You’re still young, that’s your fault
There’s so much you have to know


Just breathe, nerd.

Consider what is real.

There are no rules beyond the ones you set. There are no walls beyond the ones you build. There are no monsters beyond the ones you hide from in your own head.

Yesterday, in therapy, I was asked about The Monster. My Monster.

They are… gaunt. They are a tall, pale, clawed, vampiric sort of thing and they are starving. They do not know how to ask for what they need and so I do not know what to give to them, so they scream and wail in their little corner and it’s not so much that they are malevolent but that they are longing for relief.

I bring the monster an eclair at first. Just to try, just to see. They wolf it down right away, cream filling dripping from their jagged teeth, and they are only hungrier still.

My therapist said he pictured the monster and I in a Victorian manor library and I immediately made it clear that I get a fucking cravat in this scenario. I am Penny Dreadful-ed out in my waistcoat and cravat and I am handsome and I am the hero. And I do not know how to feed the monster yet and I am running out of things to try, and so…

We dance.

I take the monster by the claws and I am not afraid to slide my hand up their monster-skinned back and hold them. I am not afraid of their teeth or their big, unblinking monster eyes as I lead them around the library to some perfect Victorian manor library soundtrack.

And the monster is…relieved, finally. No one has ever asked them to dance before.

That’s what it comes down to, doesn’t it? I don’t need to escape to grad school or to Orlando or to any tangible place. (Like, I can, sure, and one day I will.) But that isn’t the solution. The story– the comedy, the tragedy, the love story, the epic poem- is the one between the monster and myself. It is an enemies-to-friends 90k slow burn and we don’t have to Get To The End in any particular hurry.

But we have to get to one another. We have to be willing to link fingers and claws and offer one another the comfort of a dance when nothing else will do.

I sought once to slay the monster. But, in doing so, I only risk slaying myself.

All the times that I’ve cried
Keeping all the things I knew inside
It’s hard, but it’s harder to ignore it

(“I know,” I whisper into the monster’s ear. “I know.”)

Daniel Elton dances with monsters and he is not afraid.

I know.

I know.

adventure is out there

I’m going to talk myself out of it. I feel it in my bones.

I’m a big schemer, you see. I like ideas and plans more than I like most things. But who am I to have these elaborate dreams? Who am I to think I am worthy of them, even if they are currently just as grand as becoming a barista at the Starbucks on CityWalk?

(Starbucks baristas are heroes, let me be perfectly clear.)

I am not slow and methodical in things. I start to itch beneath my skin and either I hide under the bed or I panic and DO SOMETHING. I am either going to stay under my bed here in Atlanta like the sad catfish I am or the panic is going to overwhelm me and I am going to drive to Orlando without a Good Plan.

And I don’t know! Is that how single weirdos in their 30’s in the midst of a giant personal crisis move? Do you just toss your cat into the back of your Nissan Altima, make sure you have enough toll money, and go? Figure it out once you’re there? Improv, right! I’ve taken improv classes! I can handle it!

(I don’t know if I can handle it.)

What I know is that I cry nearly every day. I feel not just like a disappointment to Atlanta and to my people here, but sometimes like a traitor. Like I have done SO BADLY that I have actively betrayed the people I love most. And, yeah, I know, I’m not actually that big a deal, but it is still a really hard, awful thought to leech out of my heart.

So, again, I return to: making strangers Frappucinos and wishing them well before they go off to ride rollercoasters?

I can do that, I think.

But is it an escape or a penance?

Do I ever forgive myself?

Back to Good Omens, always: I wanted to be an Aziraphale so badly, but I cannot get Crowley’s text out of my head.

“Unforgivable, that’s what I am.”

I feel unforgivable. And again again again, I know you don’t think that. But I am sort of sick, with this gross thing that lives in my head and tells me lies. So, it’s enough that I think I am unforgivable, that I will ruin everything I touch.

I cannot bear to touch Atlanta anymore and maybe Orlando’s too sunny for me to tarnish.

Is it an escape or a penance?

I don’t know.

I just know I miss you already.

to t or not to t

(I mean, it’s not really a question anymore. I stopped.)

This morning I was working on picking out a monologue for Trans-speare when the ugly voices made their way into my brain again.

You stopped taking testosterone. You were never really serious. It’s as we suspected all along: you’re just a cis girl who wanted attention, right? You’re not really trans.

And man, fuck you, ugly voice.

Yes, I stopped taking my testosterone. I talked to my doctor and she was very cool and supportive and quick to remind me that I am, in fact, still trans.

So, I clock that this is an aspect of my own internalized transphobia: how hard it has been to believe myself. How hard it has been to look in the mirror at my “female” body and accept it for what I know it to really be.

My personal reason for stopping at this time is: I was looking at testosterone as a fix, as a solution. Because I still believe myself to be a broken thing. And that is something I want to challenge and fight. Because I am already good and already enough, even if I don’t have the voice or face I necessarily I want.

I thought I was already so old, so I had to get started NOW, but the truth is that I am still very new to my trans journey and I am allowed to take the time I need to explore, to question, to feel wholly and excitedly ready.

I am not broken and, therefore, there is nothing to fix. There is only moving forward to our dreams and our hopes. Me, personally? I need to get right with my brain and my heart before I think I’m ready to do anything about my body. But wherever you are… you’re doing so fucking awesome. I think it’s okay and important for us to talk about how these experiences are different for everyone. There’s not a Right Way To Be Trans. Maybe I’ll never get back on T and that would be okay. Maybe I’ll never have surgery and that would also be okay.

Today it is enough to wear my “boy sweater” and my “girl shorts” (clothes are so dumb) and to sip from my iced coffee and to listen to Journey and to consider a version of myself that is not a problem to solve.

You’re doing so good.

but your dreams may not

It’s not time to make a change
Just relax, take it slowly
You’re still young, that’s your fault
There’s so much you have to go through

Can’t relax. Can’t take it slowly, THAT’S my fault.

Okay, new plan, Team. (If you can stand it. I know I’m a lot:)

I’ve been really, really low since the summer of 2019. Which is frustrating, because really great things were happening. I directed my play! It was so good! I was with my best friends all the time!

But, also, looking back, I probably needed to go to the hospital.

(Looking inward, it might not be the worst idea to go now. But I’m scared. Always scared.)

I don’t want to keep calling out of work because I can’t stop crying.

So, I’m going to try something different.

Call this accountability, thanks for being here.

I’m going to wait for the official grad school “no.” (I’ve waited this long, haven’t I?) I’m going to wait that long. And then it’s time to start plotting my grand escape down South.

The past two years have been really heavy and I am working on accepting that I need a break. And Orlando sounds like a break in my heart. Sounds like an absence of hustle, sounds like an abundance of sunshine and of being nice to people as my way to make a living.

I can pack Clementine up in our little blue Nissan Altima and head for the lack of hills.

I think I have to, at this point. I have to, have to, have to challenge my fucked up belief that, if I will, I will be forgotten. So, therefore, I stay somewhere where I am no longer happy.

I am not happy. It’s hard to write, it’s hard to say.

And I KNOW. Orlando isn’t going to “fix” me. That’s the other piece. I have to believe that I am not broken. But I am tired. I am really, really tired and I just want to ensure your safety on the Haunted Mansion for a little while and then I want to go home and sleep. That’s it.

I need that to be enough for a little while.

And, yeah, I’ve met me, I’ll probably keep relentlessly applying to weird stuff, but maybe the chorus of “no” will ring softer in my ears in Florida.

Fuck, maybe I’m just thirsty for orange juice.

But I still want to be a day’s drive from you. Want to know I can get back here if you need me. I love you. You’re not why I’m unhappy.

I’m just so tired.

When you come visit me, we can hold hands and I can ensure your safety on the Haunted Mansion maybe.

poem for friday which was originally for tuesday

(because i am trying to believe:)

1. that i can still be a poet

(because my teacher took notes last night and emailed me after our phone call and the subject line read YOUR JOB)

oh, thank goodness. someone else tell me, please.


Believe That You Deserve The Things That Make You Happy

Don’t Punish Yourself By Thinking You’ve Already Failed

2. that this is truth

i examine my perceived failure daily, i poke at it beneath a microscope, i stand in puddles in bare feet and exclaim to passerby HEY LOOK AT WHAT A PIECE OF SHIT I AM.

and what if…

what if i just stopped doing stuff like that?

what is the start of the day did not begin with the minutes of yesterday’s sins but instead with the reminder of anything that could have been an accomplishment:

Accomplishment #1: I drove to fucking work.

Accomplishment #2: I ate a falafel wrap and the Falafel Gentleman and I were both really nice to each other.

and perhaps i stop there and consider that this is enough.

3. that this is enough.

a re-introduction of sorts

well, hey, friends! happy tuesday? you okay? you hydrating? (i’m drinking a juice box, they are my favorite.)

it occurs to me i’ve been rambling at you for a LONG TIME and maybe you already know everything you need to know about me, but i just wanted the chance to check in:

my name is dani. (i think I’ve settled on “dani.” my 4th grade self was a fucking weirdo-badass and they knew what was up.) i am a tall, enthusiastic, non-binary writer who loves star wars and shakespeare and muppets and baking key lime pies. (it’s so easy! my mind was blown!)

i don’t think i’m going to get into grad school, but this thing is my dream. this ability to create and to spread awareness about mental health. my thesis for this blog is: i want to write about every weird feeling i have ever had because i never want you to feel badly about any of yours.

i’ve got more blog posts to write. more plays, more poems… (yeah, more fanfiction, i love it) i don’t think i’m going to get into grad school, but that’s okay. i’m not giving up anytime soon.

i currently work two part-time jobs to sustain myself while i figure out how to make this independent artist thing work. if you enjoy this blog, please consider sharing it on social media! come visit me on patreon or ko-fi!

leave me a comment! tell me what you’re working on! let’s make our dreams come true, okay?

may the force be with you. always.

(non) binary sunset

I’ve been on a low dose of testosterone for nine weeks. And I am so exceedingly grateful that it was an easy process to start. I know that is not the case for everyone. I went through Plume and was met with nothing but trust and belief and well wishing and positivity.

So, yeah, nine weeks going on ten.

But I went on a walk yesterday. Not a special walk. Just a little loop around my neighborhood. And last week was a Big Week. Hard news and rejection letters and on and on and on.

And I realized:

I don’t think I’m ready.

And, honestly, yesterday I felt really ashamed by that revelation, but today- fueled by a mocha and The Lion King soundtrack- I just feel… good? Calm? I am remembering the initial relief of my realization that I am non-binary, that non-binary was even a thing I could be. How gender is not a thing I want to be locked into, how it makes me feel itchy around the edges.

I am grateful for each new step of this journey- grateful to have learned that being trans is a sort of freedom and that it doesn’t have to be a source of further restriction, of a deeper itch. I am trans without hormones, I am trans without surgery.

I am trans simply as Dani. I think I have been trans as Dani since the 4th grade and I just didn’t have the words.

And I think- for me and only for me- I need to continue making peace with my body as it is before I consider again changes for me which are very emotional.

I want to love this body that has been kissed by a whale, that has run half marathons, that has gotten lost in New York City and been found again by the promise of dinosaurs. This body that can rock a suit as well as it can rock a little floral dress. I am interested in loving my body only because it is mine and because I say I do, you know?

My point, I suppose, is this: You are who you are and your path is only yours and you don’t owe anyone else a damn thing. If hormone therapy is your path, you’re a fucking rock star. If you’re still not sure, you’re also a fucking rock star. It does not diminish your truth or your transness. You are enough, you always have been.

I will run a half marathon again in this body I am learning to love. I will gently pet the fur of my sleeping cat. I will hug you, I will drink too many sugary coffee drinks, I will be magnificent.

It has been over a year since I stood onstage at the Highland Ballroom and declared: Behold me. I am not a man, I am not a woman, I am an ethereal fucking being.

And so I am.

but i am having this one

There was another life that I might have had, but I am having this one. Kazuo Ishiguro.

(because here is the truth of the matter, for better or for worse:)

I am probably not going to be accepted into an MFA program this year. It is already March and I have no news and I just don’t think it is going to happen. I am not going to move to another city this year and immerse myself in learning more about playwriting.

(this is most likely the truth and it hurts like a stone in my stomach, but it is okay. i will be okay.)

So. What is not the absence of this fantasy future but the reality of my present?

My family (mostly) is here, my friends (mostly) are here.

I have jobs. Good jobs that I do not always understand or feel that I am doing well, but jobs that I am learning. Jobs that enable me to order the odd iced coffee for delivery because sometimes it’s too hard to go get it by myself. There is a cat at one of my jobs, so that’s pretty cool, right?

And I have the ability to create. Not getting into an MFA program does not mean I am not free to write whatever the fuck I want. When I get the news, I am going to be super fucking sad, I know that. I’m probably going to order the odd iced coffee for delivery and cry into my pillows.

(i am steeling myself for the news. i am trying to prepare for the worst. trying not to let it be the worst, you know?)

Because this is okay. This life I have. With friends and iced coffee and cats at the office. This could be enough if I decided that I could be enough.

I think.

I think that’s how it works.

(i am often wrong.)

The world I occupy is one of iced coffee and cats and love for Captain America and jamming to AC/DC on the radio while I drive home from work and having doughnuts at the kitchen table with my friends while we talk about Disney World and our feelings.

My world is a good one.

There are other worlds I could have lived in, but I am living in this one.

And it is good. It is enough.

I am good. I am enough.