rey (ben), these are your first steps.

I am having all these dreams since the appointment.

Sometimes I have the opportunity to say out loud “I am transgender” to my late grandmother and she just hugs me. Sometimes my face contorts in the mirror before my eyes and I look as handsome as Adam Driver. Sometimes I am brave and truly wholly myself.

(This is like the day of a haircut times A THOUSAND.)

(… I need a haircut.)

Because this time my face is going to change, you know? Things ARE GOING TO CHANGE. And I need to talk about it today, because the waves of self-doubt and imposter syndrome are crashing over me again and my fucking stomach hurts about it.

So, I have to remember being a child who was so enraptured by the description of Ron Weasley- gangly and broad-shouldered- that I asked my mom in a McDonald’s drive-thru if I was gangly and broad-shouldered. I remember being privately delighted whenever my name and short hair in middle school got me mistaken for a boy at school, even when Eric Sutherland accused Chris Peckron and I looking like two boys kissing in the hallway. I remember how I have spent the past four Halloweens SO FUCKING HAPPY to be dressed as a vaguely-male-shaped-entity. (Hello, Bert Macklin, Pennywise, Owen Grady, Aziraphale, my darlings.)

(Fuck, why do I dress up like Chris Pratt all the time? I need some Hemsworth in my repertoire.)

(… I did re-watch Ragnarok over the holidays and maybe I’m going to start working out. Goddamn.)

I remember how happy it made me this past month to receive Christmas cards from my friends addressed to “Daniel.”

I am not making this up. I am not wrong about this thing I want. I need to keep saying it, because 31 years of not knowing I could make myself feel better is a long fucking time.

(It is not too late.)

I haven’t driven to the pharmacy yet. I’m so nervous, so I’m just sitting in bed still and eating my oatmeal. (Fuck chia seeds, by the way.) But it’s happening today. I watched all the videos the doctor sent me and I kind of think I know what I’m doing. I’m scared about it hurting. I’m scared about doing it wrong.

I’m scared of being wrong. I’m scared of the changes happening and of only hating myself anew.

But… and I’ve been reading about this A LOT… I don’t think it usually happens like that. I really, truly suspect deep down in my bones that this has been an unnamed source of pain in my heart for a really, really long time. I just didn’t think I could help myself in this way. And the only thing I want anymore, after an entire year of punishing myself, is to feel something like good. And all I can think is… well, why wouldn’t I try this?

“It’s enough that you want it.”

I want it.

(I mean, fuck, if only for the Halloween opportunities, right?)

I am fighting today, sort of like with haircuts, to remind myself this won’t change who I am, even if it does actually change the shape of my face. I was good before and I will be good after. I was enough before and I will be enough after. This is not to validate myself, because I was already valid. This is to feel something like a sort of joy that I never thought I could have. This is to, fingers crossed, walk into the first day of grad school in the fall and feel so explosively like myself that I can’t even handle it.

Becoming who you want to be shouldn’t be a practice that is only come to through years of suffering. Becoming who you want to be should be a playground. We should have the freedom to explore and to discover and to follow each unmarked trail in our hearts as far as we want to follow them. (PACK A SNACK.)

“No one’s ever really gone.”

I’m not going anywhere. I think maybe I’m finally showing up.

May the Force Be With Us.

leaving hogwarts, part III

(because the song is playing on my Wrapped playlist again and I never have the heart to skip it. thank you, mr. williams.)

Here is what no one can take away from me: (No, not those who actively seek to drain me nor those who just unknowingly leech my sparkle.)

I am a Hufflepuff. That was a fact that once meant very much to me. It mattered to me to see myself in a badger-clad group proud of their loyalty and their gentleness. I am no Gryffindor, but I will fight in the final battle, always. (I believe.)

It is silly, perhaps, but it meant something to me to walk around the corner of Diagon Alley in sunny Orlando, FL, my Hufflepuff headband proud and shining against my hair.

I am grown now. And I am not leaving behind headbands or stories or magic. But I am saying “no, thank you, fuck off” to bullies and to cowards. To those that crow their hatred loud and proud and to those that just look at me sadly because they do not want to take the time to understand me.

I am a Hufflepuff. I believe in justice and friendship and working hard.

I do not have a New Year’s resolution. What else is there to come up with when you feel like there’s something daily that needs to be fixed about you, you know? I do not have a New Year’s resolution.

But.

But.

If my Hufflepuff heart stays willing and brave and true, and if I remember the words I have written here, if I take the time to recall the tears I have shed… painful, hopeful, confused, angry, full of dreams… next week I will step outside of the body I have always known and walk towards something that feels better in my heart.

“It’s enough that you want it.”

I have been so eager to find my identity in nerd spheres over and over and over again, because I have never wanted to be myself. I have wanted to pretend to be Aziraphale, to be Peter Parker, to be anyone other than me.

I don’t know if this will change that feeling. I’m really scared. As I read back over my writing from last year, I see bravery and excitement, but I also read reluctance and fear. A hesitance to speak from my heart. Like there’s still some threat in saying the words out loud. For someone who rambles as much as I do, I have a hard time getting to the point. I have a hard time being simple and saying the words that matter the most.

I am a Hufflepuff. (She will not take that away from me.)

I am transgender. (No one will make me feel badly about it.)

I had an appointment on Monday. I can start testosterone next week. (It’s enough that you want it.)

My New Year’s resolution (fuck) is not to be stronger. It is not to hurt less. I am a soft, sensitive marshmallow creature and I will continue to cry over the beauty of whales for no other reason than I can. No, my resolution (fuck) is just to believe. In myself, in you, in the power of the magic we wield together.

It’s enough that you want it.

You are enough. I am enough. We are not broken or wrong. We cannot fail.

(It’s important to me that we both remember.)

Happy New Year, brave hearts.

christmas 2021: a fantasy

(just a moment to dream, thank you:)

I wake up not in a hotel in Beaverton, Oregon, but in a super-nerdily decorated apartment in Chicago, Iowa City, New York City, somewhere in Rhode Island… It will just be my apartment, for the first time. (Don’t ask me how I can afford it on a grad student salary, just go with me, okay?) Elton John is playing on the record player I now own and my sweet cat Clementine is curled up asleep on his kitty tower, his jangly little bow tie secure around his chonky neck. The walls are festooned with Star Wars and Good Omens and Jurassic Park and it is mine. The air smells like sweet vanilla sugar nonsense and my hands are warm around my coffee mug.

I’m not in class, because we’re on holiday break, but my hands still ache with all the writing I’ve done all semester. My brain is full of ideas, I have an outlet for them, I am surrounded by other writing nerds, I bake them cookies for our peer reviews, I invite them over to my apartment to write and to drink coffee and to listen to Elton John.

But it is a break today. And I am wearing my Christmas pajamas and sipping my own coffee and it is an hour before my family is coming to visit me. I have gotten them all something wonderful, because I have had the space in my heart to be ingenious about gift giving this year.

Upon the gifts underneath my tree (I’ll have a tree! Me!), it is scrawled: Love, Daniel.

And my face is less round, my hips less full, perhaps my belly still soft, treacherous in its love of each and every pastry imaginable. That would be okay, I think. My outfit is laid out for the day. My nice shirt and vest and tie. And this is no secret to anyone anymore. All the tears have come and gone and the explanations made, and I am just Daniel and everyone knows now.

They will call my name that first day of grad school. (Do they call role in grad school? I don’t know.)

“Danielle Elise?”

(They don’t call middle names in role. Stay with me.)

“Daniel Elton, please.”

And everyone will know. And it will be okay. And my voice will sound like I think I’ve always wanted it to sound and won’t that be a thing?

To Daniel Elton: Merry Christmas, we love you as you are.

It is 2020 today and I am sitting on a messy hotel bed in Beaverton, Oregon, and I am pretty okay. I’ve made it this far. (We’ve made it this far, you shining star.) And tonight I will see Christmas lights at an unfamiliar zoo, but next year I will have the capacity to welcome everyone into MY space. My space on a new bit of the Earth, my space where Daniel’s shiny boy-shoes clutter the front hallway.

I know I know I know that no ONE THING changes everything. But I am so full of dreams and hope today. I am so ready to be done with what I think perhaps might have been a low thrum of pain in my heart for a very long time. And there will be new thrums of pain, new heartaches and breaks and complications and sticky, stinking goblins clawing their way through my ill brain.

But.

But the presents under the tree all say Love, Daniel and everyone knows.

That, I think, would be enough.

Merry Christmas, sweet friends.

i don’t know. i was sad. (AGAIN)

CW: struggles with internalized transphobia and low body image.

I feel fucking exhausted. My stomach hurts and I feel fucking exhausted.

I know I said I wasn’t going to do this again for a little while, but when have I ever been the model of restraint? Things hurt today and I want to get it down. Want to work it out a little bit.

When I told my mom about Daniel last week, she was mostly super A+ about the entire conversation. (She’s Kittenfish, she’s perfect.) But she also teared up and confessed that she was worried I’ll be lonely.

That I’ll be alone.

I’m afraid of that too.

Because I’m thinking a lot of things lately, I’m considering a lot of changes. I am learning about hormone therapy, I am researching top surgery, and I feel excited, but also, the further I mentally drift away from this body I am currently in, the more I just feel like… No one? Like nothing. I look in the mirror and I am sad and disgusted.

I am thinking back to how I always used to hope that getting my haircut would change everything about me. Would change the shape of my face and the color of my eyes and just everything. Is this just an extension of that? What if I transition and I *still* don’t love myself?

I am tired of hating myself. I feel it in my guts today and it just hurts.

This whole thing feels like an extension of that stupid “Well, no one else can love you until you love yourself” platitude. How am I supposed to invite anyone to love me if I don’t even know what to call myself? If I don’t even know what I want my body to be?

I feel so disconnected. Clothes make me want to shrivel up and die. I gained a lot of weight this year. I know it doesn’t make me a bad person. A weak person. But nothing fits anymore. I am still shoving my unwelcome curves into too-small leggings and t-shirts and trying my best to hide the rest of me away with flannels that don’t button anymore and sweatshirts that don’t zip.

I know I said I’d never buy clothes from Target again, but FUCK. I don’t know how to drive anywhere else and I’m prepared to just roll up there today and buy some fucking clothes that fit. FUCK.

What if transitioning makes me worse? What if transitioning makes me hate myself even more? What if I feel uglier than I do now? I have handled a lot of pain and rejection from my own brain over the years, but I don’t know that I can make it through something that massive again.

I am afraid of being alone. I am afraid, whatever I do with this body, whatever I call it… Maybe it won’t make sense to someone else? Maybe it won’t be enough of one thing or the other to… I don’t know, count?

Some days I feel like I can stand it. This morning I really tried to talk myself into: “Okay, just buy some leggings and some sweaters and just be a girl for Christmas and it’s fine. It’s fine. Get some fucking earrings. I don’t know.”

And I just want to curl up and hide under the bed when I think thoughts like that.

I re-watched The Lord of the Rings over the weekend and I was struck by a lot of thoughts. 1) Damn, I just want to dress like a Hobbit. 2) I love these movies so much because of the care and consideration and affection that was taken to make them.

What would it be like to bestow that same care and consideration and affection on making me?

I think, in a way, this is grieving. I am sad for the girl I couldn’t keep being. I am sad for the boy I might be too afraid to become. I’m just sad.

And I am angry. Because it shouldn’t feel like this. It shouldn’t hurt like this.

Honestly, I might end up at Target today. I might end up panicking and buying some girl clothes to just get through the holidays. But I’m going to get there. (I hope, I believe.) I’m going to get to the day when my closet is filled up with vests and waistcoats and bowties and all many of handsome wonderfulness.

I will find peace with my body. It is good. It carried me to the coffee shop today to get a peppermint mocha. It sits here, hunched over on my bed, clacking away on this post. It has run half-marathons and it will get there again.

And now (thanks, Spotify) more Sir Elton, because of course:

Oh, oh, oh, I’m gonna love me again.

dani(el)

(This is the last time for a minute, I promise. I think we’re all ready for a bit of a break.)

I don’t know what happens next, but I sure thought about it a lot today. I let myself dream big and loud and happy. I swung for the fucking fences:

And now it’s time for Weekend Update with your host Daniel Herd!

(For example.)

Part of this second adolescence, I think, is the capacity for those big dreams again. Waiting around for a potential acceptance from grad school truly feels like the start of something new and exciting. I feel like I’m giving myself another chance to do this the way I really, really want to.

I had a great time in undergrad, don’t get me wrong. But I was so very sad. I have been so very sad.

And now maybe I’ve discovered part of the source of this low thrum of pain that’s been here for a really long time and now I can do something about it. I don’t know what that means for me yet, but I am learning and pondering and considering and it is really exciting.

Honestly, I still feel like I was a big screw up today, but here, tonight, sitting on the couch, surrounded by three little Christmas trees, I see this version of myself that is possible. I will be handsome and funny and kind and I will be good enough for the things I want. I will write plays, I will tell jokes, I will speak Shakespeare.

For this brief Christmas tree-lit moment, I am on my own side. I can do it. I can fucking do it. I am going to get into all the schools and I am going to get really good at what I do and then I am going to write for a living.

And, yeah, I’m gonna host fucking Weekend Update. I would be really good at that.

For a long time, I felt like I needed to apologize for my dreams. That I had to keep them little and neat and manageable. But my dreams are big and loud and messy and weird and I want them so very powerfully.

Someone in my trans support group said, “It’s enough that you want it.”

I want this. I want a body that matches my heart. I want the freedom to navigate the world without holding my breath. I want to fucking believe in myself. I want to be brave and good.

I want I want I want.

Dani is still cool, by the way. Dani is me. Dani is the first name, all the way back in 4th grade, that felt like it fit. Dani is the first name I chose. But it isn’t short for Danielle, not anymore. It isn’t spelled “the girl way.” It’s spelled the me way. You can still call me Dani. I probably still will!

But looking down at “Daniel” on the page…

It’s enough that I wanted it.

I don’t know what happens next. But I’m here for you, always. Whether I get to go to grad school far away or not. We’re not getting anywhere without each other.

Thank you for the gentle strength of your love and acceptance this year. I used to be too afraid to entertain something like grad school, because, if I left, you’d forget me, right? But that isn’t how friendship works. This bullshit fucking year has challenged me to cherish and nurture friendships near and far, new and old. I have had the opportunity to laugh and cry and share and create and nerd the fuck out as all my selves, as Dani, as Daniel, as Way.

I’m challenging myself to take a blog break after this. My heart needs the space. I need to step back and rediscover what this soft, nerdy spot of the Internet is. Thank you for reading this year. I have needed this outlet more than I can possibly say. But it’s been a year and I made it. I am stronger than I ever thought I was.

To quote the best angel, “We can’t give up now.”

Happy Holidays, dear reader. May the Force Be With You Always.

i used to be a runner

But I can’t right now.

Okay, I guess I could. I could wake up with my alarm, could lace up my sneakers, could trudge out the front door, could move my body intentionally, could feel something like pride at the exertion…

But I can’t right now.

Because, you see, everything still hurts. And I don’t feel like I’m allowed to do things that cultivate joy or pride in myself. Because I feel like trash. I feel like a bad person. I hurt people and I deserve to be in pain now, right? This is the story, these are the rules.

I used to run and (kind of) to cook and to read books and to watch The Mandalorian, and I can’t do any of those things right now.

(Okay, I guess I could.)

Instead I make deals all day. I bargain, I negotiate to survive. “If you go get a bagel, will you hang in there?” “If we read this next fic chapter, will you promise to drink some water?” “If we listen to Elton John while we do it, can we check our work e-mail?”

I am functioning, I guess. I am drinking tea and listening to music and asking for help and rubbing lavender lotion onto my soft, crackly elbows. I took a shower today, I ate some toast.

Gold fucking star, right?

It’s almost the end of the year and I feel like I am running out of Walt Whitman quotes, running out of Elton John lyrics, running out of all the platitudes I have tried to use this year to bandage over my own heart.

I spoke with a friend last night and my voice was low and rough and I didn’t recognize it. Sometimes I feel like I don’t recognize myself at all anymore. Who is this sad, chubby thing in the mirror? Because I used to run. I used to get medals, they are hanging on my wall.

I don’t really want to be here right now, but this feels like the way through, you know? Talking about it. Wrenching the horrible truths out from underneath my fingernails. Putting my guts on the table, asking you to see me, to hear me.

Maybe, yeah, be worried about me a little bit.

(I’m sorry.)

Writing here feels like a vow, sometimes, more than anything else. A promise.

“I promised me,” says Kermit, and maybe that’s what this is.

I will finish this hot chocolate (thank you, Lina), and I will pull some clothes on even if I hate the way they feel on my skin today, and I will listen to the Lord of the Rings soundtrack and recall that I am capable of happiness.

I used to be a runner.

i might not get into grad school

My writing sample might not be good enough. My statements of purpose might be a mess. My resume might not be impressive. I might click the wrong button on the application. Maybe my undergrad GPA just isn’t up to snuff.

On and on and on.

Getting into grad school feels so very high stakes, so I am trying to challenge myself to be “okay” if it doesn’t happen. “Okay” if I am still just this, where I am, this time next year.

It’s hard, though. I feel trapped and panicked. I feel like grad school is the only way I can afford to get out.

I need you to understand, by the way: I don’t want to leave you. Not ever, not for a single second. But I feel a little like I’m living in a haunted house. For the past three days, I’ve felt underwater. It’s cold and wet and blurry around the edges, and it makes me feel like I am drowning. Like I am dying.

I’m not happy here anymore. I’m sorry.

But I have this dream of waking up in the morning just to the pressures of making coffee and of writing words. And, again, in this fantasy I have a record player, and I listen to Elton John in my bathrobe, and it’s frustrating, because I DO THOSE THINGS NOW. Why doesn’t it work here? Why am I unhappy?

Logically, I know that this question is more about time than place. I will feel better a year from now, because… well, another year will have passed. I’ll have made new mistakes and I’ll have continued growing and learning and I won’t always feel the way I feel this morning. Even if I’m still right here, in my bathrobe and listening to Elton John on my phone.

But the place feels important. It feels romantic, I think. This notion of landing on another piece of the Earth and trying again. Maybe it will be easier to introduce myself to someone there, to introduce myself to myself even? I still don’t know what words and names I will use, but maybe there will be something like a new freedom to try in this new place, wherever it is.

I hope I hope I hope.

I dream of baking cookies for my peer review group, of cleaning my little apartment before everyone comes over to work on their plays, of teaching undergrads, of staying up too late over outlines and cups of forgotten tea. That feels like happiness to me. And I just don’t think I’ll allow myself to have it here.

It’s not you, Atlanta. It’s definitely me.

But I might not get into grad school! So, what then?

(I’m not prepared today to think that far ahead, forgive me.)

Today there is just a bathrobe and Elton John and cold coffee and hope.

I hope I hope I hope.

don’t fear the reaper: is the song i was listening to while i wrote this

The thing, I think, is this:

If I can make All This into something beautiful, then is it perhaps possible I might be something beautiful?

(I have been called beautiful at least once, that I recall with the clarity of a star collapsing.)

I feel like I am running out of time to be getting away with this. To be this sad, to be this loud about it, to be this howling, wailing animal in the corner of the party.

In January, I’ve got to be a big kid, haven’t I? A year of howling and wailing, maybe that’s more than I was ever supposed to get.

But I find I just can’t stop.

My eyes hurt and sometimes (a lot of the time) it feels like things are always going to feel this way. And I can’t. I don’t want to. Being mentally ill sometimes feels like one big piece of performance art. There are all these costumed versions of myself (go to work, feed yourself, be nice to people) and I hate all of them and I think the real me might be this curled-up, grey thing, crying into a miniature can of Dr. Pepper and listening to the Velvet Underground like the fool I am.

I am a frantic fool.

Sometimes grad school feels like my last chance. My last chance to make myself into someone better, into someone good. Ah. I’m not supposed to do that anymore. I promised my nerd therapist. I’m supposed to challenge the idea that I’m a Bad Person. I am also supposed to 1) do something for myself that a Good Person deserves, and 2) indulge in my sadness.

  1. I ate Target brand queso right out of the jar while I cried over old SNL clips on my phone.
  2. I am reading the story again. I know I’m not supposed to. I feel like I am reading from the bottom of a lake. Like, I can’t fucking breathe, but maybe that’s okay, because it’s so lovely down here.

I’m not sure I’ve ever successfully learned to value breathing over loveliness. (Oh, fuck off, Herd.) I do not value myself over the things in the dark that can hurt me.

And being here is indulging the sadness, right? This is what I do. I have to vomit these feelings down as soon as I think them or I feel a little like I am going to burst out of my own skin.

(It’s going to get worse and I’m sorry. I feel it in my teeth, I feel it in my toenails. Fucking December.)

I’m not a bad person.

I don’t believe it yet, but I’m here to practice saying it.

I’m not a bad person.

I’m not a bad person.

ten minute ramble, just to see

10 minutes on the clock. What comes out?

First of all, my pants feel too fucking tight and I’m annoyed about it and if anyone in January puts pressure on me to lose my quarantine weight, I will throw them off a bridge, ARE WE CLEAR?

Marine mammals have blubber to keep them warm, to keep them safe. They have thick skin and layers of fat and maybe I was supposed to be a marine mammal.

I have never been small. I was the first Tall Girl in elementary school and, actually, I was very proud about it. I wanted to be the very tallest, I wanted to be able to lift my nose and come away with a cloud-mustache. It felt like the first Interesting Thing about me, you know?

“Hello. I am Danielle and I’m very tall. I suppose you’ve already noticed.”

I have always chased those Interesting Things. I was tall and I loved animals and I read a lot of books, and that’s what was interesting about me at first.

(I am still tall and I love animals, though I have not read as many books this year as I should have liked. I keep reading the same story over and over again, even though it hurts.)

Six more minutes. What else?

Second of all, possibly related to the quarantine blubber, my thighs have never rubbed together the way they have this year. Gross? Maybe. You’re free to opt out. But fuck, the skin of my inner thighs feels nearly constantly rubbed raw no matter what I am wearing. And I’m thirsty, sure, but also: how could I ask anyone to contend with the cheese-gratered reality currently between my legs?

After my First Date With a Girl, I promptly had a panic attack and texted my best friend:

“I’m going to die alone.”

She’s the quickest and funniest person I know, so she responded:

“Honey, you’ve been out for, what, three months? Let’s not condemn ourselves to the gay celibate monastery just yet.”

She’s probably right. But I’m going to need to figure something out about all this chafing.

(I feel gross and honest today. I’ll tell you all my secrets for a laugh, I’ll pick all my scabs at you, if you’d like. You probably wouldn’t, I don’t know why I think that’s a thing.)

Three minutes, but I need to stop and change songs on Spotify. Hang tight.

Okay.

Two minutes and some seconds. Let’s go.

I am nervous about my grad school applications. The stakes feel so fucking high. What do I do if I don’t get in, you know? Because I already tried to run away to a theme park in China once and it didn’t work. I don’t know where else to go if this doesn’t work. I feel like I am running out of ideas, of schemes, of possibilities.

One more minute, but maybe deadlines and time limits are arbitrary?

Breathe. Notice your heartbeat.

Time.

i think this is a poem

TW: suicidal ideation; mind your heart

I was already in bed when I decided I wanted to walk into the sea.

(There is no shoreline. There is nowhere to go.)

So, instead I pulled a bathrobe on and grabbed a wine glass (you know which one) and I watched the gas station Cabernet slosh like blood.

(because maybe i am bleeding, maybe this is dying; i just know that it hurts)

I am tired of my own voice, but I don’t know where else to go. (There is nowhere to go.) I just know that I am here again, half naked in my own bed and glassy eyed and my heart is pounding and, fuck me, it isn’t even 9:30.

Sip the wine, play the sad songs, keep writing, keep going, make sense of it, make something beautiful.

Is that what’s beautiful about me? My foolish willingness (fuck, is it eagerness) to rip out my own innards and put them on display?

HELLO.

I AM TIRED AND SAD AND I THINK I MIGHT BE DYING AM I BEAUTIFUL YET.

(don’t type the thing you want to type, don’t be an asshole on top of everything else)

Nothing fits anymore. My clothes, the words in my mouth, the ache in my heart. I am spilling and bursting and overflowing and I don’t know where to contain myself so I just lie here and (not so) quietly ooze.

(This is all fucking bullshit. I know that.)

My fingers shake on the wine glass (you know the one) and oh, I really hoped I was done shaking.

I don’t want to sleep, not really, but I also don’t want to stay up and feel wretched tomorrow. I just want to talk. I just want to sit here in my soft bathrobe and participate. That’s what this is, I think, always:

I’m lonely.

Sip the wine, play the sad songs, re-read the story you should stop reading, keep writing, keep going, make sense of it, make something beautiful.

I feel crazy, is the thing. (I suppose I am crazy. I didn’t set out to be, despite all evidence to the contrary.)

This thing hurts, is the other thing. This Thing coils around my chest and squeezes and presses and I feel like I can’t breathe and if I’m going to drown, I might as well get to see a fucking turtle, right?

I was already in bed when I decided I wanted to walk into the sea.

But today was a good day.

Maybe I’d just like to see the turtle.

(I don’t want to stop, please don’t ask me… I can’t go back to bed, can’t close my eyes and pretend, can’t ignore the sting of tears, the thrum of my heart i’m sorry i’m sorry i’m sorry)

There’s more DBT on Sunday, therapy on Tuesday, a support group on Thursday… there are anchors. I can make it, I think. But my stomach feels like it’s swallowing itself now, so I came here and I hope you will forgive me.

In DBT, I work on replacing the Cruel Voice in my head with Spider-Man’s voice.

“Would Spider-Man think you were beyond saving?”

(Oof. An efficient means of destruction.)

“No.”

So, I suppose I am not.

But I’m sorry. And I want to scream and wail and beg about it and I feel like I have been shoving myself into a shoe box beneath the bed for a year and I feel like I am panicking probably because I am panicking.

Tomorrow I’ll try to work, try to pretend there isn’t this screaming in my brain, because that’s what we do, right? (I don’t want it to be like this.)

(i wanted to write something beautiful)

There are no secrets of mine. There is nothing I wouldn’t sell on the off chance that you’ll smile at me. There is no story more precious than your acceptance. I’ll tell you anything you want to know.

I am in bed and there is no sea. There is nowhere to go.

Sip the wine. Feel your pulse. Trust you are real, trust there doesn’t need to be a reason.

Always: breathe, heart. Breathe. Remember the Bard:

Men have died from time to time and worms have eaten them.

But not for love.

i thank the lord for the people i have found, or: a little more to do about fanfiction

A year ago today, I published my first piece of fanfiction since (probably) middle school. And oh, I AGONIZED over the task of actually writing the damn thing: I would sit on my couch in the dark at night, sipping on sweet fucking Shiraz, and listening to the same love songs over and over and over again, desperate for inspiration. The stakes felt so HIGH. Just reading Good Omens fanfiction was already doing so much for my feeble little heart and I wanted to participate so very badly.

I wanted to be a part of the story. (I usually do.)

If you follow this blog, I’ve made no great mystery of the fact that this has been a VERY DIFFICULT YEAR. Starting just before this time last year… Damn. Again, I know I’ve talked about this a lot, but what a ride it’s been, my friends.

And, strangely, nerdily enough, it’s really been fandom that’s helped keep me afloat. It’s reading stories of an angel and a demon beating the odds after centuries and falling into one another’s arms over and over and over again…

I talk a lot in this blog about hope. (I mean, it’s in the damn title.) The Good Omens fandom has given me such profound hope. These people are kind and creative and supportive and talented and delightfully strange. I’m proud to count myself among their ranks. I’m proud to be their friend. They have made me a better writer and a happier person. I think I used to think writing fanfiction must be such a lonely hobby… and, for me, it used to be. Sitting in the dark with my Shiraz and longing to be a part of something beautiful.

My stories these days feel like love letters to myself and to my friends. I want to tell stories about love and hope and bravery. I want to make someone’s day a little better and brighter with my soft words. In this way, I believe, writing fic has led me to wanting to go to grad school. Writing feels like it was this dormant superpower, this silly little thing I did just for me. But something about fanfiction has really forced me to contend with how good reading makes me feel and if I can ever possibly do that for someone else…?

I mean, damn.

I need to be working on my grad school statements of purpose today (I’ll get there, I promise) and what I keep coming back to is this feeling of: Well, I want to get better at writing so I can get better at helping people. I used to think I had no way to help. I used to think I had no way to contribute to the goodness of the world.

But we can.

Dead Poet’s Society, always, forever: “We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race.”

When I was scared and lonely and needed stories of queer joy, I found them in fanfiction. When I was scared and lonely and needed to laugh, I found it within the Sunday night Zoom calls with my fandom friends. When I didn’t know how to feel my own feelings or speak my own truths, I tried putting them in Aziraphale’s and Crowley’s mouths, and, honestly, it really helped me work through some shit. Fanfiction helped me to not doubt the validity or the enormity of my own emotions.

I wanted to be a part of the story. And so I am. Once upon a time, there was a writer named Way and they wrote silly stories and they had wonderful friends.

I don’t know where Way goes next, but I know they carry the lessons of this deeply nerdy year with them in their back pocket.

As I always put in the end notes of my Ao3 pieces: “Thanks so much for reading!”

(Thank you. Truly.)

that shines from you (i’ve probably already used that as a title, haven’t it? dammit, dani)

The plays (for now!) are done! Nothing to write but blogs and fics and grad school essays!

How am I coping, you might be wondering?

Well, I’ve watched Rocketman three nights in a row, for a starter.

Here’s the thing: I just… fucking love this movie. I never expected it to hit me the way it did. There’s an iced peppermint mocha currently flowing through my veins, so forgive me if this isn’t terribly well thought-out or eloquent, but just… to see someone so powerful and talented and struggling and MAKING IT OUT OKAY?

I NEED IT.

I LIVE for the “I’m Still Standing” number at the end and then that classic biopic pre-credits “Where Are They Now?” sort of montage. I get so happy to see that Elton John found love and happiness and never had to sacrifice doing what he loved for either. It’s so goddamn fucking inspiring and uplifting and I want it in my eyeballs all of the time.

Also: I am HERE FOR TARON EGERTON AND RICHARD MADDEN KISSING I AM QUITE GAY. 

UGHHHHH.

In vaguely related news, I might be joining a transmasc support group in December and I am terribly excited and a little bit scared. Creeping ever closer to naming and owning this piece of myself, you know? It’s been such an exhausting year of emerging from my queer little chrysalis; I keep thinking I’m all finished!

“Oh, okay! I’m bisexual! Great, got it!”

“OH. I’m also non-binary. Cool!”

“Hey, Team, turns out I’m a butch lesbian! Case closed!”

*knock knock knock*

“I MIGHT BE A GAY MAN STAY WITH ME JESUS FUCKING CHRIST.”

It’s almost my one year fanfic anniversary and I remember the month I spent writing that first fic. I was so nervous. But I also sat on my couch every night, drinking red wine and listening to Elton John, and I think I was happy. To still be in this soft, unnamed piece of my queer yearning, sheltered by cushions and Bernie Taupin lyrics, before I was exposed and raw and rubbed red. 

I’m probably going to watch at least part of Rocketman again tonight and just continue to let that story wash over me. To contend with the idea that you’re never too late, that no one is unlovable, and on and on and on. 

Tomorrow I’ll sit on the couch with a glass of red wine and work on grad school essays.

And probably some fic.

Love y’all. Always.