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.

how to rally when you don’t get cast at an international theme park

BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD, NERDS.

So, The Thing isn’t happening. I auditioned virtually for Universal Studios Japan and Beijing a few months ago and, honestly, I made it decently far in the proceedings. So, like, good for me. I’m gonna hang on to that. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to audition for anything, so it was nice to not get an immediate “no” on my first time back around the block.

But! Hysterically, the official “no” did arrive just as I was pulling on my Jurassic World crop top and getting ready for a day of fun at Universal Studios Orlando. And, again. Fine. Cool. I don’t speak Mandarin, this was probably the correct decision for everyone involved.

SO, NOW WHAT?

Because I still feel like I need to get the hell out of here, if only for a little while. My literal dreams hurt. I wake up in the morning with my stomach already upset. I need a change of scenery.

I need to go somewhere so that I can come back, and you’ll be proud of me.

So, I think the new plan is grad school and, fuck, I feel too old. But I think I want to write plays and books, and I would like someone to give me money for them, so maybe an MFA would teach me how to do that? (Do you know of a great fully funded Creative Writing MFA for tall, sad weirdos? Hit me up in the comments!)

I’m just ready to look at something else, you know? I’m ready to shake off the old, familiar ghosts and (most likely) acquaint myself with some fresh ones. Real, maudlin talk: I am sort of a dramatic disaster of a person, so I’m going to fuck shit up no matter where I go and, at a certain point, I just need to accept that.

(For example: remember that time I had a one-night stand with a puppeteer that turned into a full-weekend stand, and then The Juggler was angry with me for talking about The Puppeteer in my stand-up? My life is hilariously bizarre and I’m already crying.)

I remember that time. I remember all the times. I am a stupid depression elephant and I LONG TO FORGET.

GET OUT OF MY DREAMS, JERKS.

(I’m feeling TRIUMPHANTLY sorry for myself this morning, do forgive me.)

So, yeah, that’s the plan! Write the plays I should be writing at this very moment, take a deep breath, fight the imposter syndrome, try to sleep, apply to grad schools. Right? Yeah? Good? (I hope.)

I do still hope, that part’s true. I’m not historically proud of myself, but I am gonna give myself credit for being a resilient little potato. I’ve bounced back from worse than not getting to work in a steampunk-themed chocolate restaurant at a theme park in China for a year.

I can do this. You can do this.

(Happy World Mental Health Day. Drink some water. Take your meds. You’re doing great.)

https://www.patreon.com/daniherd (If you’re so inclined.)

fried endorian yip tip: another review/probably a thinly veiled cry-for-help

Okay, yeah, I’m in Orlando right now.

(Yeah, I know.)

Look, this year has been unrepentant trash, so my best friend and I had a collective pixie dust-fueled anxiety attack and headed South. I am writing this from Universal’s Surfside Inn at the tail end of an epic three days. We are exhausted and sunburned and watching some Haunted Gingerbread show on the Food Network, and it has all been totally worth it. (I hope.)

So, if you’re also having a rough time and thinking that some sparkly theme park magic might be a balm to your heart these days, here are some of my thoughts/suggestions/general ramblings:

  1. Disney is enforcing social distancing protocols better than Universal is. I don’t mean that to be a harsh knock on Universal cast members themselves; everyone I encountered today was absolutely lovely. But I think there are fewer of them and I think their job is super hard to do. BUT: if you’re really worried and you only have space in your heart for one park, I think Disney is the way to go. (I visited Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios this trip.)
  2. SPEAKING OF HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS: I personally find the rules surrounding Rise of Resistance to be super baffling and elusive and frustrating, so let me tell you what’s up. Disney won’t let you into Hollywood Studios in a car before 8:45 am (for a 10 am opening). If you try to take a Lyft or something because you’re worried about the bus or the Skyliner, here’s your move: get yourself to the Boardwalk and then walk over to Studios. It’s not a bad walk and you can avoid the bus frenzy. They started letting us in just after 9 am.
  3. MORE STUDIOS THOUGHTS: Hey, are you also super crazy nervous about Star Wars-related joy? Don’t go directly to Galaxy’s Edge. We walked straight to Tower of Terror and tucked ourselves into a cozy, pretty, faraway-from-other-humans corner to do our boarding group mad dash. I actually felt like a person instead of the hyperventilating mess I was back in February. Yeah, I waited for a really long time for Runaway Railway later in the day, but I think it was super worth it.
  4. MORE RISE OF RESISTANCE THOUGHTS: So, we got into BOARDING GROUP 2, because my bestie Kirstin is a CREDIT TO THE RESISTANCE. She credits her app success to have a watch that counts time down to the second. So, if possible, have someone in your group be the Super Timekeeper. Again, y’all: BOARDING GROUP 2.
  5. I finally got to try food in Galaxy’s Edge!! I had a Ronto Wrap at Ronto Roaster’s (delicious) and fried Endorian Yip Tip (Star Wars is hilarious, may it never change) at Docking Bay 7. Fried Endorian Yip Tip with mashed potatoes and a Takodana Quencher? Maybe my favorite theme park dinner ever. Just sitting inside Docking Bay 7 was one of the best parts of the day.
  6. (Breathe, younglings. Rise of Resistance is still super worth the stress. Get there early. Take calming breaths. You got this. The Resistance needs you. Stay strong.)
  7. So, there aren’t FastPasses right now. Get with your buddy and come up with your Top Three Attraction Priorities. We didn’t do that at Animal Kingdom and ended up accidentally missing out on Expedition Everest due to some technical difficulties.
  8. Always scream your head off when the Carnosaur shows up in Dinosaur. It’s just more fun like that.
  9. Here’s a Kirstin tip: “If you think you’re not a roller coaster person, try it anyway! We only live once!” (Proud theme park-dad moment: Kirstin rode the Hulk TWICE.)
  10. Say “thank you” to all the cast members all the time. Some people are being total dicks and this situation sucks anyway and it’s still a million degrees in Orlando, and JUST BE SWEET. We only get to do nice things right now thanks to the crew that’s making it possible. And hell, that goes for everywhere you go right now. Say “thank you.” Be sweet, as my grandmother would have said.

So, there you go: Get there early. Always order the Yip Tip. Be sweet.

May the Force Be With You.

breaking down my current spotify “on repeat” playlist

Happy Sunday! I’m trying to get you to give me money, so let’s get to know each other a little better, shall we? My musical taste is that of a fantastical nightmare creature. Enjoy these selections from my Spotify “On Repeat” playlist:

  1. “Break My Stride” – Matthew Wilder

Y’all, I DO NOT KNOW. I woke up one day with this song inexplicably stuck in my head and now I can’t stop listening to it. I mean, I was trying to go perform in China so the opening lyrics (“Last night I had the strangest dream, I sailed away to China…”) were a real source of hope and comfort for a minute there.

2. “I2I” – A Goofy Movie soundtrack

Powerline is the greatest pop star in the history of pop stars and I’m not remotely exaggerating. I have very fond memories of blasting this song and running through the halls of the Shakespeare Tavern with Charlie Thomas while we were warming up for some show.

3. “Merry-Go-Round of Life” – Joe Hisaishi, Howl’s Moving Castle soundtrack

Sometimes a they has just gotta be wistful and yearn-y and dream of tall, damaged, handsome creatures wearing nice capes.

(Sophie can do better.)

4. “Grim Grinning Ghosts” – THE HAUNTED MANSION

HALLOWEEN EVERY DAY, BITCHES. FOREVER.

5. Theme from Jurassic Park – John Motherfucking Williams

Look, John Williams is our greatest living artist. I feel that in my bones. There is no better morning to me than one spent drinking good coffee and just blasting this song at full volume and daydreaming of dinosaurs.

6. “Dead Man’s Party” – Oingo Boingo

I think this is my favorite song of all time? Okay, so here’s the thing:

At Six Flags Over Georgia during spooky times, there’s something called Fright Fest. And there’s a spooky-themed musical revue at Fright Fest called “Dr. Fright’s Dead Man’s Party.” I heard Oingo Boingo for the first time on the stage of the Crystal Pistol and I was horrifically enchanted right away.

I have played Rosalind, Kate, and Lady Macbeth and yet I still yearn to one day be talented enough to perform in “Dr. Fright’s Dead Man’s Party.” Sorry, Shakespeare.

7. “Leaving Hogwarts” – John Williams, again

So, this song feels super complicated in my heart right now, as you can imagine. As a trans Harry Potter fan, I listen to this ending song from the first film and I remind myself that She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named might have created this world, sure, but I am still allowed to take the meaning I want from it as I go along my travels. It’s time to grow up and leave the castle, but I will carry with me the lessons *I* learned from those books. She can’t take that away from me. (She can’t have Pumpkin Juice either. That stuff is delicious.)

8. “Affirmation” – Savage Garden

SOMETIMES I JUST NEED TO FEEL TWELVE AGAIN, OKAY? I used to jam in my dolphin-wallpaper’d bedroom to some Savage Garden.

ALSO: I AM NEEDY AND THE SONG IS CALLED “AFFIRMATION.” I AM NOT SUBTLE.

9. “Border Song” – Taron Egerton, Rocketman

As I wrote recently, you know that gay thing where you have a crush on Taron Egerton as Elton John but you also want to BE Taron Egerton as Elton John?

Because I know that thing and it is both complicated and sparkly.

10. “Banana Splits (The Tra La La Song)” – The Dickies

I missed staying up late as a little kid and watching when the old, weird shows came on Cartoon Network. Do you remember the Banana Splits? They were real and utterly perplexing and their theme song fucking SLAPPED.

11. End Credits – John Williams, E.T.

Confession: I don’t actually love this movie. (I do not care for “If you love them, let them” tales.) But I love love love this theme. It takes me back to flying through the night skies at The E.T. Adventure in Universal Studios Florida, which is just my absolute favorite forever.

FINAL TAKEAWAY: Shockingly, I might be a gay nerd with a deep enthusiasm for theme park attractions. What’s on your “On Repeat” playlist? Comment it up!

ANNOUNCEMENT O’CLOCK!

Hey there, intrepid followers! We’ll get back to our regularly scheduled geeking out and crying ASAP, but first!

Some news!

  1. I launched a Patreon today!

https://www.patreon.com/daniherd

Come check me out for early access to blog posts, thank you’s, something we’re calling #WalrusWednesday… all sorts of nerd fun! Thank you in advance for your support!

2. I WROTE A PLAY!! Check out the Gainesville Theatre Alliance on Friday October 23 for the virtual premiere of “Monster Girls at Sunshine Doughnuts.”

3. I’M WRITING ANOTHER PLAY!! The in-progress “gloria and minnie and the castle on the backlot” was selected for Synchronicity Theatre’s Stripped Bare Arts Incubation program. We’ll have a virtual offering for you on Wednesday November 24!

4. Did you know I’m on FB? (I mean, obviously.) You should come and follow my writer page for updates and fun stuff. (I mostly yell about pumpkin coffee and Oingo Boingo.) https://www.facebook.com/daniherd31

5. I’m trying to make it as a writer, Team. If you already follow this blog, if you’ve ever liked or commented or shared… thank you from the bottom of my heart. Drop me a line sometime! Tell me what about the blog works for you! Let me know what I could do better!

6. Have a wonderful day. You’re doing so super good!

love,

Dani

queer-simodo

(Title courtesy of my dear friend Kati Grace.)

Hello, I am intoxicated and I can’t stop watching Todrick Hall’s “CinderFella”from 2012.

My name is Dani and I am gay.

(I don’t know everything that means yet. I am trying.)

When I was in high school, I loved my best friend and didn’t know what to call it. When I was in college, I loved a best friend and kissed them, even, and didn’t know what to call it. When I was…

(I’m sorry. I’ll stop.)

(I’m not done. Feeling these things. I will keep them closer to the vest, I promise.)

Ever since I tiptoed into coming out last weekend… I feel like I’ve been watching the red strings line up on the bulletin board of my life. Why have I always related more to the boy-Disney “I Want” songs? “Out There?” “I’m Still Here?” “Go the Distance?”

I have often dreamed

I’m a boy, no, I’m a man

Where ordinary men walk freely walk about there

Fuck.

(Liquid courage and all. Here we go:)

I long to say this to you:

“My name is Daniel Elton. I don’t know everything else yet, but can I take you out for ice cream?”

How afraid I am of being unlovable. How afraid I still am that I’m “wrong.” Though, as someone dear pointed out to me recently, do cis people think about gender this much?

(I can tell you. It’s something of a secret. It’s okay. It’s okay:)

I think I might be a boy.

(When I think about it, it makes a lot of sense.)

And it makes me sad. Because maybe I’m not courageous enough to “do” anything about it? I don’t know yet. I long for a flatter chest, a deeper voice…

Fuck.

I don’t want to disappoint anyone more than I already have. This is my fear. This is what trips me up. I don’t want to hurt anyone. I don’t want to make anyone sad.

But I want to sing with this lower, righter voice. I want to see what he sounds like.

(I’m sorry.)

(I love you.)

If you’re out there, and I know you are: I am proud of you forever. Whatever you call yourself, whatever you decide. I will defend you forever. I will fight for you. You made me consider being brave. You made me consider telling the truth. Thank you. I adore you. It’s going to be okay, for both of us, I think.

I don’t know. I still don’t know for sure. I don’t want to make anyone sad. But… I don’t know.

“Daniel.”

I wonder what he’s like.

I wonder if he’s brave.

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

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

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

Non-bi, and only non-bi this month: 

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

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

Sometimes it just helps to be asked, you know? Because sometimes I myself don’t know which questions I’m even allowed. 

Honestly, I’m kind of scared to get into this, because fuck. Fucking fucking fuck. What if I’m “wrong,” you know? What if I don’t know a damn thing? What if the way I feel isn’t enough of how I’m supposed to feel? I know I’ve talked about this before, but sometimes I just feel like a straight cis girl looking for attention, though I know in my guts that’s wrong. Fuck that voice for being there. Fuck you, Voice. As I tell my cat in my grandmother’s voice these days, “Be sweet.”

Be sweet.

When I was a kid, I looked up the meaning of the name “Danielle” and I was so fucking disappointed. According to Wikipedia, Danielle is just the Hebrew female variant of the male name Daniel, meaning “God is my judge.” First of all, back off, God, you have more important shit to handle right now. Judge me? Get your own house in order.

So, I took on “Dani” as soon as I could. The idea of being a girly Cinderella princess, even though I loved them, made my skin crack and craw and “Danielle” was the girliest thing I’d ever heard. I thrilled when my short hair and stupid parrot button-up shirts got me mistaken for a boy. They called me “Mr. Herd” at the 8th Grade Beta Club Induction Ceremony and I wasn’t mad. I think I would still be thrilled to be mistaken for a boy except, here’s the thing, maybe it isn’t a mistake? 

It breaks my heart to think about it, to give words to it, because I think I am probably not brave enough to move forward about it. And I don’t have to in order to be valid, I know that. Honestly, sometimes I just feel lazy. This soft girl body doesn’t look the way I want it to in boy clothes, so I just drape myself in shapeless dresses and hide myself away. Is it too late for me? For suspenders and bow ties and so many buttons? I can confess to you, my sweet Come Up and Instagram witchy queer friends. I know you support me, I know you love me, and I can never tell you how grateful I am for you.

But you know how you watch Rocketman and you both have a crush on Elton John AND you sort of want to be Elton John? You know that thing? Do you not? Or that thing of how you sob so hard during Dead Poet’s Society because you relate so much to Neil Perry and you understand how much it hurts to feel like you can’t be yourself? To feel trapped? Or that thing where you scroll Tumblr at night for posts tagged #transmasc and you’re just so fucking happy for every handsome face you see? You know those things? Fuck. If you know those things, hit me up, I want to talk. 

I know what my name would be, speaking of Sir Elton. I’d keep so much the same, because the core of me is the same. Soft and indoorsy and poet-y and crying all the damn time. Danielle Elise, in another world, could be Daniel Elton and I really hope that kid is okay, wherever he is. I think he also gets up on stages a lot, but I think Daniel sings. I think his voice is probably really beautiful. 

Sometimes it is enough to be able to imagine these many multiverses. There is that one where I’m dancing with you, and I don’t even care what my name is there. That one’s my favorite. 

A year ago, my wonderful friend Jake asked me about my pronouns. As of tonight, I accept them all. I promise to keep you posted if that changes. Honestly, y’all will probably be the first to know. Thank you.

It’s The Come Up’s birthday, it’s Mark Hamill’s birthday, and the Force is with us. Always. 

In conclusion tonight, because I am a simple bastard for a theme, I offer you a new Sorting Hat Song. Because fuck you, J.K. Rowling:

Oh, you may not think I’m valid

But don’t judge on what you see

I won’t back down, not then, not now,

I’ll stand for Him, Her, Them, and Me

She can keep her sequels lame

Her viewpoints cruel and small

I’m a trans Harry Potter fan

And I’m still standing tall

There’s nothing hidden in your heart

That you yourself can’t see

Please tell us your pronouns and your name

The truth will set you free

You might feel best with she and her

Wthether you’ve known always or not

Maybe you wear dresses, maybe you don’t

We still love you a lot

You might feel better with him and he

You handsome, daring souls

We’re proud of you forevermore

(Fuck traditional gender roles)

Or yet with singular they/them

If you’re somewhere in between

Maybe gender just doesn’t fit you at all!

My friend, you still are seen

Or perhaps there’s some words else

That best capture how you feel

We promise to use any means

To make sure you know you’re real

Tell us your truth! Don’t be afraid!

We’re proud you’ve come so far

The Sorting Hat is just a hat

You decide who you are

hallelujah, by and by:

So, it seems increasingly likely The Thing isn’t going to happen.

(Okay, we can talk about it: honestly, I was trying to skip town and perform at an international theme park for a year. I am nothing if not terribly predictable.)

I am contending now with the reality of staying. Of moving forward even if my feet do not physically touch down on another part of the planet. Because, honestly, I just might not be able to afford moving away anytime soon.

(I haven’t given up hope entirely. I look at Chicago job listings not infrequently…)

Sometimes it just hurts too much to be here, and I’m sorry to tell you that. I’m sorry to confess that I spent a good deal of last night buried into my pillow, choking out sobs. It’s just a thing that happens, it’s okay, I promise. I’m okay. I have deadlines and ideas and probably more hope than I recognize. I’m okay.

But I’m also really sad and tired, and I dream of something like a rest. Sometimes I don’t think I’ll ever let myself rest while I’m still here, so I think a lot about going somewhere else.

I didn’t go out of state for college, never studied abroad… I’ve never really had the chance to roll up all shiny and faux-confident into a new city with an aura of mystique about me. I’ve never had the chance to not be the crying kid at the box office. I’d just like a day to go by before you figure out what a wreck I am.

I long to breathe different air.

There are so many things I have always felt too scared to do and leaving is one of them. My truest fear is being forgotten. And I finally don’t think that’s a thing that actually happens when you love someone, so I think that means it’s time to take this longing seriously.

(You are all songs, but these are the lyrics in my head the most right now:

If you’re lost, you can look and you will find me
Time after time
If you fall, I will catch you, I will be waiting
Time after time
)

I know I’ve said too much. I know my big mouth is a problem. So, I need to get out of here and word-vomit where it can’t hurt anyone, I think. Because I need to keep talking. I feel like I’ll explode if I can’t.

I feel lost, so- fuck me- I feel like I need to go find myself.

But please know the biggest fantasy is in coming back. Is in presenting you with a happier, shinier version of myself. If you’ve already made up your mind about them, that’s totally fine, I get it. But you make me so happy and I want to go strengthen up, so I can prove it to you? I don’t know if that makes any sense. I long to go learn how to be strong and brave and good, and then I will come back with gifts and stories.

I’m gonna go learn how to fly. When I come home, I won’t be scared anymore to join you in the stratosphere.