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.

(i should really be memorizing my lines:)

Writing memoir and personal nonfiction always at first strikes me as… indulgent. Like, how dare I presume that anyone else would care about my sad, silly anecdotes about getting lost in London and eating mozzarella sticks out of trash cans? What is the value of this genre for the reader, you know? I know why I write it, I think. I long to make sense and eventually poetry out of the rougher edges of my life. I want to share with you all the best moments, because it makes me happy to recount them.

Tomorrow night I am performing my first ever one-human show and… I’m not terrified. Getting up on stages and spilling my guts is what I do. It’s what I love. It’s what makes me feel alive. So, I’m excited about tomorrow. Possibly ill-prepared, but excited!

But I wonder about the audience. I wonder what they stand to gain from listening to me ramble and warble for twenty pages.

So, I am also a consumer of creative nonfiction. I first got into the genre back in 2006 at the Governor’s Honors Program in Valdosta, GA. We had this one class called “Observational Humor,” where, on the one hand, we listened to a lot of Dane Cook, but on the OTHER HANDS: I read essays by Chuck Klosterman and Sarah Vowell for the first time. My feeble little lit nerd brain was blown. I had no idea you could write like that! That you could thread the needle of telling true stories and entertaining and also, I don’t know, educating even? Because I always felt like I learned something through those essays. In Klosterman’s case, usually about music or the NBA. In Vowell’s case, definitely about American history.

But mostly I learned about the authors and that alone felt really cool. It felt like a privilege to me to get to hear a stranger’s innermost thoughts and feelings. It felt like we were friends.

(I am, if nothing else, eternally thirsty, thirsty, thirsty for friendship.)

That summer session led me David Sedaris, to more stand-up comedy (Maria Bamford and Patton Oswalt first and most importantly), and so on and so on. I started skulking around the tiny little creative nonfiction* section at Barnes & Noble and just picking up any title that sounded interesting. That’s how I found David Rakoff, David Foster Wallace, Samantha Irby (THE ABSOLUTE BEST), and so many more.

(I’m losing the thread here. What was my point? I seldom remember.)

Usually, in my dark depressive moments, I think back on my life so far as this big calamitous failure. That the humor I have to offer is only borne from pain. But as I read my own words this morning, sometimes the funny things were just funny. (Like headbutting a boy while trying to sexy-dance at GHP.) Or sometimes the funny things were just sweet. (Like another boy reciting Romeo & Juliet to me before kissing me the same summer.)

My new therapist observed last Sunday, “It’s very important for you to think of yourself as the hero of your own story.” And, damn, he’s right. I think of every encounter, every beat of my life as a narrative, as a story. It’s so important to me that this story be something meaningful to me, to you, to everyone. Because what’s the point if it doesn’t mean something? If I wasn’t really a hero? If I didn’t help someone else with my words?

But as I consider it… all those authors I’ve previously mentioned, whether they wrote about deep, intense feelings or not… each one of them helped me. I used to spend days, hours, eternities with my nose buried in those books and I was happy. I have so lost sight the past few years of harnessing my own capacity for joy. But I know I was happy when I read those books. I know they contributed to the meaning of my life, no matter the subject matter.

So, if you read this blog, if you’re watching the play tomorrow night: Thank you. I can’t begin to tell you how much this means to me. I hope it’s something nice for you too.

Again, as I read back over my words this morning, what I am struck by is not the sadness or the failure, but the friendships and the triumphs both big and small. Of dreams and determination and laughter and light.

I am more than what I originally presumed.

It is such an honor to get to tell you about it.

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.