everything’s fine (so why aren’t i?)

I woke up at 7:30 this morning and made some blueberry pancakes from a box.

And they were good. I even had whipped cream to top them with instead of maple syrup which, in my opinion, is the right way to do fruity pancakes. 

There is pumpkin spice creamer in my coffee in my very favorite mug and there is ice water in my favorite cup and I am wearing my soft pink bathrobe and the laundry is going and my bed is warm and my cat seems content and I have a good playlist playing and two of my plays are being produced next week and I have a home and friends and blueberry pancakes and-

Fuck.

I feel ungrateful. I feel like an asshole. My body aches today. Probably because I got into bed at 7:30 pm last night and just gave up. I ate a burrito at 4:30 pm and that was all I had the stamina for. I watched the new Bake-Off and that’s really all I had the heartspace for. So, I did what I always do at night: I started playing old John Oliver clips on my phone and I rolled away from the light and begged for sleep to claim me.

Things were fine yesterday too. Well, except for this ever-present feeling that someone is squeezing my chest. Like someone has a furious grip on my heart, holding me still and whispering into my ear, “You are fucking garbage. I hate you. Why even try?”

I have so many things I need to try to do today. But my eyes feel weary from even being awake this long. It feels like this year of heartache and fear and growth and pain is finally catching up with me and I’m too tired to keep a step ahead of it anymore, you know?

I don’t know.

My fingers shake ever so slightly against my keyboard. I didn’t miss the shaking. I missed you.

(Fuck.)

Maybe sometimes we’re just supposed to accept the misery? I don’t feel strong enough to fight it right now. It can do its thing, I guess, and just sink over me like an old quilt. Maybe I have to walk through this thing to get to the over side. (It’s so hard to imagine the other side.)

Here’s all I’ve got today: I’m going to keep drinking my coffee and listening to my music. Maybe words will come, maybe they won’t. Maybe I’ll go for a walk later, maybe I’ll fall back asleep.

This period of time when I was depressed (or any of those times) does not make the whole of me. I am happy days too, I am weeks and months of starlight.

I’m so tired.

Fuck. 

what it might have been like:

I am thinking tonight of my summer at the Governor’s Honors Program. Thinking of how we all spent Field Day sitting together under a tree, talking about movies and about poetry. I am thinking of how sincerely I loved you and how differently it could have been if I’d known.

“Daniel,” I might have introduced my soft self. “My name is Daniel and I think I might love you.”

(Remember when I cried in Michael’s room that summer while watching Brokeback Mountain? You weren’t there, but I’m sure I told you about it.)

You quoted Romeo & Juliet at me before you kissed me and I wished I’d had narrower, boyish hips for you to rest your hands against.

We were really into Hedwig & the Angry Inch that summer, as I recall. We used to cuddle up on the floor of Jill’s classroom at night and watch movies, and that one was everybody’s favorite. (Of course it was.)

I wish I had been braver about anything. Wish I had tugged you by the sleeve into an empty classroom after one of those movies and quoted something beautiful and kissed you on the mouth. Kissed you with the same mouth that knew to speak my name aloud.

I’m new to this, so I don’t always feel like I’m allowed to talk about it, BUT: there’s a lot I’m mourning. There’s a lot that’s sad to me about figuring it out so late. I can never kiss a boy for the first time at nerd summer camp as the boy I think I am. Or a girl, for that matter. I think maybe that part matters less than I originally thought it did, but hell, I am learning every day.

I’m also a little tipsy on boxed Malbec and thinking more about Rocketman tonight. Thinking of that early scene when that handsome musician pushes Elton up against the wall and kisses him in his glasses and his cardigan.

Maybe part of my hopeful-grad school fantasy is it will be a little like nerd summer camp as an adult. Maybe someone will sit under a tree to talk about poetry and movies with me and maybe that someone handsome will push me up against a wall and kiss me in my cardigan.

(Yes, I also want to write plays.)

Also, while I’m thinking about it, I am allowed to want cardigans and ties and boy-pants and all of it even in this current body, soft and squishy and feminine though it is. There isn’t some test I have to pass before I can present the way I’d like, and there isn’t a test for you either. Sure, my first binder didn’t fit, but I can try again. I am not out of time.

I am not out of time.

I still feel like maybe I’m wrong about everything. Like maybe I made it all up. But when I have these daydreams, I feel something like relief, so… maybe there’s something to it.

Daniel Elton.

Just to write it again. Just to see it.

I like the way it looks.

And I like the way you look. I always have.

(almost a year later) the rise of skywalker

Fine.

(Let me be abundantly clear: I still hate this movie.)

… I think.

a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away:

I saw Rise of Skywalker for the first and (until very recently) only time on opening night last December. And I’ve written about this before, but I needed it too much. I sat there in the dark, leaning forward, fists clenched, heart pounding. I was in a bad place. I felt sad and small and scared and, as it usually does, I needed Star Wars to leap out of the darkness and take me by the shoulders and remind me that hope is still out there and it’s worth living and fighting for.

I’ve been depressed for a really long time, but this past year has been the hardest. As I write this today, I am fresh off a first session in a DBT group with a new therapist and my eyes are red and puffy and I’m still in my fucking bathrobe and I didn’t know what to do, so I made some popcorn and turned, again, to Star Wars.

I actually started re-watching Rise of Skywalker on Election Day. See, I’d put on Last Jedi (my eternal favorite) as a means of coping and then just… let Disney+ keep going. But it’s taken me until today to get to the end.

I still don’t understand this movie. I am still angry about the benching of Rose Tico. I still don’t know who Dominic Monaghan is supposed to be. I still hate Rey being a Palpatine. That kiss can jump off a bridge, for all I care. I want more for all of them, for my boy Ben Solo in particular.

But something struck me differently today about watching Rey on the ground, bleeding and broken, hearing the voices of the Jedi who came before her. Even if it still didn’t make sense to me, it was satisfying to see Rey trust herself, trust what she knew, trust she was loved and supported and get back up to face down not only the baddest of the bad guys, but her own (kill me) family member.

It was nice to see positive thinking win, I guess?

Perhaps I am just too tired in my heart anymore to be that angry at Star Wars. Perhaps we have fought enough actual evil this year to get too picky about how things turned out in our beloved space operas. Perhaps it is unfair of me to roll my eyes at the courageous act of Rey choosing her own name, her own happiness.

Like… fuck. You go, Rey Skywalker.

Hope is what I learned from Star Wars and hope is still all we have. I am hopeful for tomorrow. I signed up to go back to yoga. I have therapy on Tuesday and DBT group again next Sunday. I disagree with you, Master Yoda. I believe there is ONLY trying. I’m going to try again tomorrow and again and again and again.

I’m in a bad place again today, but it’s not too late for me. “No one’s ever really gone.” I’m still in here somewhere, fighting to return to the world, fighting to smile at the sunshine. To go original trilogy on you for a second, I’m going to celebrate on Endor again one day.

Breathe. May the Force Be With You.

i’m gay: (just a little thing)

Sort of like a poem, really. Originally posted to Patreon on Halloween 2020:

I have spoken it before with uncertainty and fear.

Um, I think I might be gay?

I have spoken it as an in-advance apology, still figuring things out.

I’m really worried I might just be gay.

I have whispered it joyfully into pockets of the Internet where I felt wholly accepted, whatever oddness about me be damned.

Is it gay yearning o’clock again? Let’s go!!

Today, on the corner of Euclid and Moreland, I thought it to myself (I don’t know why) simply and peacefully:

I’m gay.

Not with any particular sort of gender euphoria accompanied, but a particular sort of Dani euphoria. I don’t fit into my boy clothes right now, so I didn’t try. Just slipped on the polka dot dress, the white button-up, and the Frankenstein scarf, because it felt comfortable and cute. I put some make-up on my face, because it was fun to do and I did not worry that it somehow made me invalid. I fluffed my short angel-hair and felt something like calm in my non-binary body.

Halloween, for better and for worse, is always when I feel most like myself. I’m not in a costume today, but I’m terribly grateful for the suggestions of the time.

Wear whatever the hell you want, even if it sort of scares you.

Let’s eat some candy and watch some spooky movies, friends. Today and every day, let’s be ourselves.

(Having a good ol’ time over here? Check me out on Patreon!)

practicing my grad school essay

Dear Grad School:

I haven’t known where I wanted to be or what I wanted to do for quite some time.

When I went to college for the first time back in 2007, I honestly picked Creative Writing as my major because the faculty was supportive and kind and the senior seminar snacks were amazing (THANK YOU, DR. COZZENS), and because I really just knew that I liked stories. I was planning to be an actor for all my live long days, you see, and I thought it didn’t really matter what my major was. I was going to graduate and plunge headfirst into regional Shakespeare, so I might as well just do the things I liked in the meantime, right?

Which is what I did. I immediately went full tilt for my acting dreams out of undergrad and, you know what, for all that I’m a self-deprecating asshole, it actually went pretty well. I played a lot of dream roles and I think I did a good job. I wore some pretty dresses and some pretty wigs and I spoke pretty words and I kissed pretty people. I played pretend for a living and it was enough.

Until, as you might have guessed, it wasn’t anymore.

At the end of 2012, when I was at the tip-top of one of my tallest depression hills, I tried stand-up comedy for the first time. The feeling of standing alone on a stage and reading words I had written about things that had actually happened to me… I’ve never been so terrified or liberated. This is what I like about comedy, I think: If I can make someone laugh with all my bullshit, then maybe it was worth it.

Stand-up made me realize how much I’d missed writing. How much I hadn’t really been doing it since graduation. Thanks to stand-up and, really, Reddit, a bright, shiny, perfect show called Write Club Atlanta found me and gave me the word “full” along with seven minutes and the courage to order a whiskey ginger. Write Club is a live lit show and I hadn’t known that such a thing existed. To get up onstage and pour my heart out in that loud, raucous basement…

I was starting to put the pieces of my nerd-word-heart together.

I kept performing, but as a tall, weird, gender-questioning creature, I increasingly felt like I didn’t belong in classical theatre. When I finally came out as non-binary, I worried there would be no more place for me onstage. And I was really sad and I was really angry.

In the summer of 2019, I was given the opportunity to direct an entirely female and gender non-conforming production of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) for the Atlanta Shakespeare Company. I’d poked and prodded about such a possibility for YEARS. (Sometimes being annoying really pays off.)

Part of the fun of Complete Works lies in getting to change and update the jokes. Before rehearsal even officially started, we had a little baby writers’ room as a company, pitching our own jokes and bits to keep the material fresh and relevant to us. It was also important to me to tell a story about three people who believed in and valued love and hope above all; love for one another and hope in the potential of the Bard, even in 2019.

Sitting in the audience on opening night and listening to people laugh at jokes I had actually written… I think it’s fair to tell you it’s been the most wonderful moment of my life so far. It was the last puzzle piece. That’s it, I thought. This is what I want.

Since Complete Works, I have done everything I can to make writing the focus of my days. I am looking forward to the opportunity to make writing the OFFICIAL focus of my life.

I haven’t known where I wanted to be or what I wanted to do for quite some time. To tell you the truth, I even tried to make a run for it and perform at an international theme park for a while. But then a dear friend of mine looked at me and said, “Dani, I think you want to go to grad school.”

And she was right. I really want to go to grad school. I want to become a better writer, because I believe writing might be my way to help. To support, to make people happy. I want to write onstage stories wherein other monsters and misfits can be seen and heard. I want to twist up classic archetypes and tropes so that everyone has the chance to seem themself a hero.

Another dear friend yesterday told me that one of their favorite things about me was my capacity for hope. I really want to write about hope.

To quote my hero, Kermit the Frog: Life’s like a movie, write your own ending.

For a long time, I thought my story was already told. My name is Dani and I am tall and geeky and I struggle with depression.

For the first time in a long time, I see the opening words of a new story and I am so thoroughly, terribly excited:

My name is Dani and I write stories.

And I will write stories even if I can’t go to grad school. (Not to brag, but I’ve written over 160k of Good Omens fanfiction in less than a year. TRY AND STOP ME.) But I believe grad school will give me the opportunity to focus on and delve into my writing in a way that I currently cannot for financial and logistical reasons.

I was so sad the first time I was in college. I’m ready to try again. I want to bake cookies for my peer review group and I want to buy a record player for my apartment and I want to be assigned reading assignments for class again. I want my shoulders to ache with the weight of the books and the journals in my backpack. I saw it all so clearly in my head today and I felt happier than I’ve felt in a really long time.

I can’t promise I won’t write a lot of bad monster puns. But I can promise you I will approach each word and sentence and scene and act with sincerity and faith.

Thank you for your consideration.

Dani H.

my very half-baked pitch for a hex girls animated series

Okay, so: The Hex Girls: Underworld Tour coming to Netflix in some manner of the distant future? Yeah? New dream? Is this why I’m trying to go to grad school? HELL YES.

First of all, maybe you don’t remember the greatest band of all time: THE HEX GIRLS. First debuting in Scooby-Doo and the Witch’s Ghost, they are rock and roll eco-goths who sing songs about loving the Earth with all their fire and they have names like Thorn, Dusk, and Luna.

As I posited to Tumblr the other day, am I gay because of the Hex Girls OR did I will the Hex Girls into existence with my dormant teenage gayness?

My pitch is for a 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo sort of structured series that sees the Hex Girls exclusively contracted to playing gigs for different ghouls and monsters. They’re too spooky for the human world, so they get, like, a vampire manager or something and then it’s just all MONSTER CONCERTS.

As the girls rise to stardom in the spookier pockets of the world, do they have to contend with what they might be leaving behind in the mortal realm? QUITE POSSIBLY. Are there mysteries to solve, leading to the occasional need to call in our pals from Mystery, Inc.? OH, HELL YEAH.

ARE THEY SUPER QUEER? YOU BET THEY ARE.

In the finale, they play prom/monster cotillion at Miss Grimwood’s FINISHING School for Ghouls and OH, SNAP IT’S THE TEAM FROM SCOOBY-DOO AND THE GHOUL SCHOOL AND ALL OF MY CROSSOVER DREAMS ARE COMING TRUE.

In conclusion, Netflix, please give me the financial support to make this project. I have written a lot of fanfiction as well as a full-length play about monster friends, so I think this is probably the only thing I’m qualified to do.

(Update: okay, this project might already be in development as of last year, BUT CARTOON NETWORK, YOU NEED ME IN THIS WRITERS’ ROOM.)

Thank you for your time and Happy Halloween!

a promise lives within you now

May it be an evening star
Shines down upon you
May it be when darkness falls
Your heart will be true
You walk a lonely road
Oh, how far you are from home

I think the happiest I’ve ever been in my entire life was when I was in middle school and discovering The Lord of the Rings for the first time. Hot on the heels of my earlier adventures in Narnia, I picked up The Hobbit in 5th grade and it was a done deal for me. The Lord of the Rings was the biggest book I’d ever owned and I was so happy-nerd-proud when I started it the next year. Slapped on the cover was a little red sticker excitedly exclaiming: SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE.

I didn’t see The Fellowship of the Ring on opening day. I just had no idea. I went with a giant group of middle school nerds, and those are the days I miss the most: piling into someone’s Mom’s car and heading to the Mall of Georgia to go to the fucking movies. I would give anything for some popcorn and a Cherry Coke right now.

Anyway.

I remember specifically that Katy Wright was there and I don’t think Katy Wright and I saw a lot of movies together at the time, BUT: I remember more the feeling in my soul as I watched fireworks illuminating the Shire for the first time and I remember this deep, intense, painful longing to BE A PART OF THIS.

Look, I was already a BIG OLD NERD when LotR entered my life, okay? I played Star Wars and Harry Potter on the playground in elementary school, I wrote Sailor Moon fan poetry, I have always been a geek. I have never doubted or denied that piece of myself. But there was something different about the way Lord of the Rings, and specifically the film series, landed on me. What I remember loving most were all the behind-the-scenes-features. All the pranks and love among the cast and crew. I remember trying to watch Lost a few years later and just feeling heartbroken that my beloved Dominic Monaghan wasn’t with his fellow Hobbit besties.

BECAUSE THEY’RE ACTUAL BESTIES, RIGHT?

That piece of it meant so much to me: those actors being actual friends. It had just never occurred to me before as a child theatre nerd. What I loved best in the world was coming up with stories and acting them out with my best friends. I didn’t know that was something you could have as an adult human creature. My mind was thoroughly blown. I was even more gobsmacked by reading about the life and career of director Peter Jackson. Someone who, as a kid, wanted there to be a Lord of the Rings movie and so, eventually, HE MADE IT HAPPEN HIMSELF.

What I learned about the making of the Lord of the Rings films was this: Being excited and weird and making cool stuff is all possible and it’s even better if you do it with your friends.

This year totally sucks. I don’t get to really make art with my friends right now and I fucking hate it. I feel weird, but not terribly excited. There are no big nerd movies coming to theatres in December, no excuse for me to get dressed up with my friends and shove popcorn into my face in the darkness.

I don’t know how to relax, because relaxing feels like quitting. And I am so fucking exhausted. I don’t watch or read Lord of the Rings anymore, even though I suspect I would have a very nice time. I don’t really watch or read anything anymore. I’m still chasing those lessons from childhood, trying so desperately and hoping each morning that today’s the day I wake up and have MY Big Idea That Will Change Everything.

My best friend tonight asked me about what sounded relaxing, because, again, I am really struggling. I think a Baggins-style life might be nice: enjoying my food and drink and stories until an adventure shows up at my door.

But so far I can’t settle. (It’s the Took in me, I suppose.) I twitch and tingle and I feel like I need to be DOING THINGS ALL THE TIME AND WRITING IT ALL DOWN BECAUSE MAYBE THIS TIME I WILL CAPTURE SOMETHING TRULY GREAT AND MAYBE I CAN CHANGE SOMEONE’S LIFE THE WAY PETER JACKSON CHANGED MINE BECAUSE THAT’S OBVIOUSLY THE ONLY LIFE WORTH LIVING RIGHT?

I’m very tired.

My bestie makes a very good point. (She is very wise.) So, I might try tomorrow. To just enjoy things, to just settle a little bit, to try to erase some of the imaginary finish lines I’ve drawn for myself. I don’t want to be a failure or a disappointment to anyone. But these are promises I’ve only made to myself and I can always make new ones.

I don’t know what I’m doing, friends. I don’t know where to go.

“Not all those who wander are lost.”

Thank fucking God.

on halloween costumes

Childhood.

Oh, a Disney princess. Fucking every year. No shame, Disney princesses are great.

Adolescence.

I vividly remember this one Halloween- I think I was 13?- when I decided I HAD TO BE SEXY. A SEXY WITCH. Fuck, how gross is it that 13-year-olds ever feel like they need to be sexy for any reason ever?

I had a long black dress, a long black wig… oh, I thought I was going to be the hottest thing on a broomstick. Surely all the boys who had previously ignored me would now come flocking to my cauldron.

My Dad was really excited about helping with my make-up. As a Dad, though, he made me super scary, not alluring or seductive. He actually did a great job, looking back. Thanks, Whiskers. Blood ran down my jaw, dark circles hung beneath my eyes, purple veins popped around my white, sunken face… There’s still a great picture of me from that night, snarling into the camera.

I think the next year was when I went as Ron Weasley. I’ve always had a weird fondness for Ron Weasley, dumbass though he is. I remember asking my mom while reading the books if I too could be considered “gangly” and “broad-shouldered.” I really, really wanted to fit Ron Weasley’s description as much as possible.

Adulthood.

I’m not totally proud of this, but I’ve been Chris Pratt characters for grown-up Halloween twice in recent memory. Bert Macklin by way of Andy Dwyer and then Owen Grady the next year. And I remember the Bert Macklin pictures in particular; remembering that little thrill of thinking how much I looked like my brother. Of how non-girlish I appeared. I felt the same way as Owen, taming a tiny stuffed brontosaurus. It was the first time I ever bought an article of clothing from the men’s section of Target.

Last year, of course, I was Aziraphale. Not a man, not a woman, but an ethereal fucking being. It was a costume that revealed so much to me and, as you all know if you’ve been around these parts before, it’s been a hell of a year since. I remember putting on the waistcoat and the trousers for the first time in a Goodwill dressing room and having my friend Lucas remark on what a good look it was for me.

Because costumes aren’t just an opportunity to play pretend, I don’t think. I think they are chances for us to slip into skins we’ve wondered about for a long time, if only for one night. I hate normal clothes. I hate shopping, I hate trying things on. Here, in what I think is my second puberty, I just wear over sized flannels and yoga pants in an attempt to hide my stupid body away.

But looking for a costume? WHAT A QUEST. WHAT A THRILL. I feel relief within a costume. I felt more like myself in that night in Aziraphale’s outfit than I ever do in any of the usual garments in my closet. I remember how sad I was the next morning, to wake up and find that it wasn’t real.

Except it is, I suppose. It was.

I’ve learned so much about my body and my heart thanks to that night as Aziraphale. I don’t know exactly what my next step is, but I am finally feeling in my own skin some of the relief that costumes and dress-up have afforded me over the years. Because being a princess was fun once upon a time and I guess every 13-year-old goes through an ill-conceived needing-to-be-hot period, but… the last few Halloweens have been so informative to me in regards to who I am and what I want to look like.

I’m not doing anything special this year. I think I’m going to sit, masked, in my front yard and throw candy at trick-or-treaters and that sounds really delightful. And this week, nearly exactly a year later, I think I’m going to call a therapist and maybe consider tiptoeing through the door that Aziraphale opened up for me.

So. Yeah. Cool. Tickety boo, even.

I didn’t get here too late. I got here when it was time for me. And I’m grateful to have had a literal guardian angel looking out for me this whole time.

The over sized flannels and the yoga pants are the costume, are the disguise. Are my means of hiding and apologizing to the world. I am finally hopeful that a day is coming soon when my body feels like something to celebrate and something to adorn in exactly what makes me feel the best and most handsome. I’m terribly scared, but also excited about the day.

Again, I didn’t get here too late. Wherever you are, neither did you. We’re going to be okay. Because we deserve to live in the skins and the clothes that please us best more than just one night a year, okay?

Okay.

sitting with depression

My routine is pretty capital-D DEPRESSED right now:

I get woken up by my cat around 6:30 am, I get up to feed him, I struggle to get back to bed, because now that cute little motherfucker wants to hang out, I eventually get myself into the kitchen for coffee and a microwaved breakfast burrito, I put on an old season of The Great British Bake-Off and I get back in bed. I stare blankly at all my works in progress and bemoan my fate, eventually just giving up and watching more Bake-Off. I get sad at night and order delivery, because it’s something to look forward to, at least. I put on old clips of John Oliver at around 9 o’clock and try to fall asleep. My cat is usually still an asshole for a while before curling up on top of my feet.

These feelings aren’t unfamiliar to me, but I especially hate them now. Because, like, why?! Quarantine notwithstanding, I have some cool stuff going on right now. My play reading on Friday night went really well and now it’s time to get ready for a workshop of my next play. I wrote a one-person show that’s being developed. I’m going to be in a Good Omens fanzine, which makes me super delighted. So much stuff that should be making me really happy now… it’s like it can’t fit through the tiny crack in the door that Depression has allowed to keep open. I can see them all waving through the crack, but they can’t get inside. I’m so fucking mad about it.

It’s hard to accept that I’m still grieving some stuff. It’s hard to be reminded that this Depression thing might always be a part of me. It’s hard to grit my teeth and bear that artistic achievements aren’t going to magically fix my issues of self-loathing. There’s work to do that I’m not doing at present. I got tired of therapy. Got tired of listening to myself wobble on about what I judged to be my stupid problems. I stopped checking in with the psychiatrist. She wanted to add a third medication and I just wasn’t ready to accept that even two medications weren’t enough to make me feel better. I stopped running, because what’s the fucking point?

Sometimes I clock that I like having too many projects on my plate at once, because then it’s like I have an excuse to not take care of myself. “Oh, no, I’m just so BUSY, I can’t possibly make a therapy appointment or eat a vegetable!” It’s all bullshit, obviously, but I’m pretty sure it’s there. I take care of my plays and my essays and my other scribblings so that I don’t have to take care of me. I coddle myself sometimes, which is not the same thing. I talk to my inner child like a scared, sad Great Dane puppy and I let them have whatever they want, even if it’s not the most responsible choice. You want to eat Toaster Strudel for breakfast again, champ? Go right ahead.

Sometimes (always) I get caught up again in the tangled web of trying to figure out the Grand Mystery of WHY AM I LIKE THIS. I was loved, I am loved. I am surrounded by excellent people who take really excellent care of me. I can’t be that much of a piece of trash, right?

It’s hard to explain, I guess. Depression is a voice in my brain and they are LOUD. They are insistent. They do not relent, they do not take a break. Being with my friends is the best means I have found for getting them to shut up a little bit, so, in quaran-times, it’s been much harder to get a respite. I’m alone in my room most of the time and they yell at me, over and over and over again. Tell me that I am worthless, that I am lazy, that I will never amount to anything. Those aren’t things I just made up: they are things that my own brain says to me.

So, I take naps. I put on John Oliver at night so that I don’t have to fall asleep to the sound of my own head.

Sundays are always like this: I am forever optimistic. Tomorrow I’ll do all the right things and maybe it will go away. I’ll get up early and exercise and have a healthy breakfast and make the therapy appointment and and and… In exchange for conquering Depression, I’ll be overflowing with energy and ideas and work ethic. I’ll be amazing, maybe. I’ll write something brilliant. I’ll write something that makes you happy. I’ll write something that makes me believe I am good. The pain will go away.

Usually, I’m back to Toaster Strudel by Tuesday.

But it’s Sunday, so I am feeling hopeful. My room is clean and my apple cinnamon candle is lit. And I don’t know what other words to write, but I am trying to feel something like peace at the notion that they’ll show up eventually.

And I’m trying to welcome Depression like some sort of affable frenemy. I don’t think they’re trying to hurt me, you know? I think they think they’re protecting me in telling me what trash I am. They’re trying to save me from disappointment, from more pain. So, like… fine, bitch. Come on in, let me pour you a coffee.

I’m fucking tired, y’all.

But next week is always a new week.

i wrote a play

Growing up, my favorite thing about Halloween was the opportunity to watch spooky-themed cartoons all day long. The very best days were when Cartoon Network showed old made-for-TV Scooby-Doo specials. Boo Brothers, The Witch’s Ghost, Zombie Island… all obvious classics. But, for me, there was always one that stood head and spooky shoulders above all the others.

Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School.

If you haven’t ever seen it, I cannot recommend it highly enough. The plot is incomprehensible: Scooby and Shaggy get hired to COACH VOLLEYBALL AT A BOARDING SCHOOL FOR THE DAUGHTERS OF FAMOUS MONSTERS.

QUESTION ONE: AT ONE POINT IN SCOOBY-DOO CANON, WERE WE EVER LED TO BELIEVE SCOOBY AND SHAGGY ARE REMOTELY QUALIFIED TO COACH VOLLEYBALL?

I KNOW I’M YELLING, BUT THAT’S MY MAIN QUESTION.

The titular ghouls play a yearly tournament against the cadet academy next door. And, like, even when I’m pretty positive the cadets WATCH THE VAMPIRE GIRL TURN INTO A BAT IN FRONT OF THEM, they’re always just like, “Oooh, there’s something weird about those Grimwood Girls!”

BITCH, THEY HAVE A DRAGON.

Looking back, Ghoul School is probably the earliest hint that I’d end up at a women’s college, eventual non-binary-ness be damned. Ghoul School was like all the best AFAB-friendship stories I devoured growing up, but had the added benefit of them being MONSTERS.

Because I like it when monsters are friends. I like it when the weirdos find each other and hang out together. It’s sort of my personal life dream at the end of the day. Sometimes my weirdness makes me feel broken and lonely, and I really used to fear I’d end up that way forever.

I am being challenged on that front more and more lately. This year has totally sucked, but damn, I know some great people. Some great, WEIRD people. I actually know IRL so many of the passionate, wonderful monsters I dreamed of befriending as a little kid on Halloween all those years ago.

So, I wrote this play about three monsters- Elsie, Tally, and Louise- who work together at a doughnut shop. They’re monsters second and best friends first. They have slumber parties and tease each other and fight evil together. I love them. They remind me of you, after all.

We’re reading my play out loud tonight and I’m really overwhelmed by the idea that my friends will be in the audience. Because this play is really a love letter to them. To all the marvelous creepy crawlies in my life who have made me feel more wonderful than broken. More sunshine-y than monstrous.

Happy early Halloween, pals. “Life, although it may only be an accumulation of anguish, is dear to me, and I will defend it.”

playwriting playlists and feeling good

I feel like I’m going back up the hill of the roller coaster today after having spent the last couple of days down in the pit, and I AM SO RELIEVED. My stomach is still nervous-upset and I feel far too soft and crumbly to deal with the notes I’ve received on “Monster Girls at Sunshine Doughnuts” (October 23; mark your calendars!), BUT. The people in my life are very good and kind, and I have a lot of nice snacks right now. Like, a lot of super great snacks.

Speaking of plays and notes, I also need to get to work on fixing up “to thine own self:” the one-person show debuting virtually through the Atlanta Shakespeare Company on Friday November 20 (IS YOUR CALENDAR OUT YET?). I can’t write a show without a good playlist, so, if you’re interested, here are the songs that are getting me through this new script:

I’m Still Standing – Elton John (aka: Dani’s song of 2020)

Spanish Ladies (THERE ARE SEA SHANTIES IN THIS PLAY.)

Star of the County Down – Emerald Rose (I am going back to my Celtic-nerd middle school roots HARD.)

The Hologram/Binary Sunset – John Williams (I just want to be Luke Skywalker, okay?)

Across the Stars (Love Theme) – John Williams (Yes, Attack of the Clones was trash, but this is a solid love them and I used to listen to it in the 7th grade and just PINE.)

Old Maui (SHANTIES.)

Boyfriend – Tegan and Sara (I am gay and struggling.)

Mr. To You – Dorian Electra (I am genderfluid and struggling.)

Music Again – Adam Lambert (This song was weirdly important to my heart in the back half of 2019.)

Rogues in a Nation – The Lost Boys (AGAIN: this play is sort of my sad little memoir, so I needed all my high school RenFest jams.)

Requiem for a Dying Song – Flogging Molly (The first band whose shirt I owned.)

Jumper – Third Eye Blind (Third Eye Blind just tastes like being at a water park in the late 90’s to me.)

Check Yes, Juliet – We The Kings (GET IT? ‘Cause Juliet! From Shakespeare!)

Peace Train – Cat Stevens (The best.)

Rebel Rebel – David Bowie (“Can’t tell if you’re a boy or a girl…”)

Concerning Hobbits – Howard Shore (I WEEP.)

Haul Away Joe – (We will haul for better weather, I hope.)

(If you like this kind of soft nonsense, consider supporting me on Patreon!)

i’m tired (again, part two? i don’t remember)

CW: Being a fucking idiot. (specifically regarding medication) I love you. Go gently.

So, I ran out of my meds… I don’t remember when.*

*I’M FIXING THIS TOMORROW, I ABSOLUTELY PROMISE. I KNOW THIS IS BAD.*

It’s been over a week. Sometimes I get stubborn about them, see. I don’t want them. I don’t want to feel broken, I don’t want to feel crazy.

But here I am again: sobbing and not really functioning. I didn’t do my job today. I didn’t take the notes on my play. I didn’t write the fanfiction I’m supposed to write.

Now I’m drinking some tea and I’m wrapped up in my Spider-Man 2 blanket. I’m shaking again, which I really thought was a thing of the past. It is October of 2020 and it feels like I’ve been having a panic attack for roughly a year.

I don’t want to sleep anymore. I just have nightmares lately. Or worse, I have really good dreams about things that will never be real. I want to drink more than I ever have before. These are the days when the waves feel too heavy and it sounds more pleasant to close my eyes and sink to the bottom and let the turtles find me.

I don’t remember why I came here.

I feel trapped. In this room, in this year, in this body. I touched myself tonight and it felt more like a punishment than anything else.

“I… I… I…” I’m a little fucking conceited, I guess. All the mean things anyone’s ever said about me feel super true tonight.

I think I came here because I’m really lonely, and being here makes me feel less alone. Because you took the time to read this and I’m sorry it isn’t fun jokes about Star Wars or whatever, but I still really appreciate it.

The feel of my own name in my mouth is like vinegar. I consider myself tonight and I just see disappointment and worry. I see someone who just makes people sad. I wanted to do better than that, but I feel like I’ve failed.

Fucking fuck.

My point, always, is this:

I should probably take my fucking medication. I should probably go back to therapy. I should probably start seeing a new therapist just to talk about gender stuff, which, honestly, makes me want to crawl under the bed and never come out again.

Thanks for being here. Sometimes I just need to say it out loud, you know?

Take your meds, drink some water. We’ll try again tomorrow, okay?

Okay.