Monthly Archives: December 2018

The Post-Christmas Blues

win

 

So, this time of year is always the same.

After the rush. After the hustle and bustle. After all the lights, the music, the food, comes the quiet.

The silence.

The after-Christmas nothingness.  And I fucking hate it.

 

Everyone has gone back to their own lives, taking their presents and their presence with them.

And life seems to slow to a halt. The magic is all used up. And somehow, everyone seems to be so ok with it.

Everyone besides me seems to love when Christmas is over. “I’m exhausted” they say. “I’m broke” they complain. “The holidays are always so stressful” they shout.

But me, I feel differently.  I love the holidays.  The love the busyness.  I love everything about the rush. And I can’t help but feel a little down every December 26th. It actually shocks me how quickly the world can move on from it.

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At least for my family, we have one day a year when everyone gets together. We have one day a year when we eat a meal together. We have one day a year when we can surprise each other with gifts…

But somehow, even this one single day seems to be too much time for my family.

Christmas seems to be an inconvenience more than a holiday.

We hit a new record this year: My aunt arrived at about 6pm Christmas Eve. Stayed till around midnight. Then came back Christmas morning for one hour to say goodbye, and grab her presents.  That’s a total of 7 hours. How many hours are in a year?

8760.

And she could only spare 7?

7 is 0.079908675799087% of 8760

That’s how much time I got to spend with my aunt this year…

 

win3

 

If I ever find love in my life, the person needs to come from a huge family. I want to experience a real Christmas sometime. Where spare rooms rooms are filled with family members. Where Christmas dinner is a feast. Where opening presents is a cherished and ornate spectacle.  I hate this rushed and sloppy Christmas that my family has.

I hate that my family treats the holidays like a burden.

And shortly after my aunt left, my brother and his girlfriend left. And the day after Christmas, my mom and dad were back to work. And I’m left wondering why I invested all this time and energy to fly home from Boston just to be surrounded for one day by people who could care less, and now… surrounded by nothingness.

I assure you, I think Boston is lame, and I’m so excited to start my new job in New York after the new year. But there is way more to do in Boston than Ohio. I’d much rather be spending my time off from school and work in a city like Boston where I could be doing things… I came home for family, and it seems like none of them care.

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But, even though this sucks, I’m going to try and keep my spirits high.

I have a new job that I’m really excited about in a new city… and not just any city, but New York City. I have so much to look forward to in 2019. 

I’m going to be finishing up my thesis, working towards to completing a book that I hope to get published. I’m going to start working for an awesome media company. I have so much going on in my future.  And I won’t let this post-holiday sadness derail me from my excitement.

So,

Yes, the holidays sucked this year .

 

But, ya know what, fuck 2018.  2019, here I come! 

2019

 

~ The Dark Horse

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The Secret Cure To Depression is… Laundry?

tide

 

So, I know this sounds crazy, but there’s always a secret trick I preform when I’m feeling really down. And it pretty much always works.

I’m home right now, and last night when I was watching A Christmas Story, a commercial came on for Tide or Whirlpool or something, and it reminded me about my little depression trick. And then I realized that, somehow, I’ve still never made a post about it!

 

So, here’s the trick:

 

When you’re feeling super depressed, and can’t even seem to muster the energy to move…

…put in a load of laundry! 

 

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Yep. For Real.

 

 

Let me explain:  So, when I’m super fucking depressed, I always tell myself that I have enough energy to at least walk down to the laundry machine and throw in a load. My idea is, if laundry is running, then I’m not simply laying in bed, wasting my life away. I’m just waiting for my laundry to come out… obviously.

I’m not doing nothing. I’m doing something.

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And then this funny thing happens… Once I stop feeling like I’m doing nothing, and feel like I’m doing something, my mood improves. Even if it’s ever-so-slightly, the idea that my day wasn’t completely wasted makes me feel better about myself.

And then as we know about positive feedback loops, that little improvement can lead to another. Suddenly, I’m like, perhaps after they wash, I’ll put them in the dryer too. And you know, I am a little hungry, maybe I’ll make myself something to eat.

And before you know it, me laying face-down in bed has turned into me folding laundry with the soundtrack to Hamilton blasting in the background.

All because of laundry.

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So, the next time you’re feeling like you can’t possibly do a damn thing, remember that putting in a load of laundry takes about 5 minutes. And then you can go straight back to your bed for a whole hour until it’s time to transfer the load to the dryer. But, you get to walk back to your bed feeling like a champion. Cuz you did something. You’ve gone from being a depressive lump to being a productive citizen of this world.

 

All hail the power of laundry! 

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And hey, even if your mood doesn’t improve that much, at least you now have clean clothes right?  Its motivation AND it’s utilitarian!  Glory!

 

~ The Dark Horse

ps- Anyone else out there got good depression tips you’d like to share?

 

 

IT’S BEEN 5 YEARS!

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WordPress alerted me today that 5 years ago was my first post. December 13, 2013.

And wow… what a difference. When I wrote my first post It Starts I was trapped in my Melbournian apartment. It was a bright, sunny, summer day…which was so weird considering I’m from America, and normally December 13th is cold and might even have snow! Normally on December 13th, I’m giddy and anxious for Christmas (like I am this very second). But back in that year, it was all so wrong.

I was completely alone in a new country. My depression was bursting at the seems. My anxiety had lead to agoraphobia. I was getting sick all the time because of how miserable I was.

I remember one of my last days out of the apartment before the agoraphobia made it completely impossible to leave, was spent at the department store Myer.

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Their Melbourne store is absolutely beautiful, and I went to walk around and get some fresh air. I was hoping to feel some of that Christmas magic I love so much in retail. Throughout December I love walking around stores. Not to buy anything, but just to be there. I love the Christmas music, the hustle and bustle, all the decorations for Christmas…and really, who decorates for Christmas more than retail?

But even that was skewed. It was probably 85F outside (30C) and the Myer department store was blasting the air conditioning. Everyone walked around in shorts. There were a few images of Christmas throughout the store. But the sun and the heat made me feel ashamed to be inside, wasting such a beautiful day.

But really, let’s be honest, most days that holiday season were wasted. Lost to the rumblings of metal illness.

 

But, let’s flash forward a few years……

 

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OG GOD! TOO FAR FORWARD!!!! GO BACK GO BACK!!!!!

 

 

 

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Alright, New York still exists?  Ok good!

Let’s just stay right for a moment.

It’s December 13, 2018. 

And this Christmas I’m going to be very thankful for 2 things. First, that I’m still alive. There are so many people out there who deal with mental health problems. And a lot of them don’t know how to get help, or feel there is no help. I’m so fortunate that even during the darkest of times, I always seemed to see a small flicker of light in the darkness. The dimmest candle in the far distance seemed to keep me going. And for that, I’m so thankful.

 

For anyone out there who feels alone or hopeless, this is a list of lifeline numbers for around the world. Please call them and never feel embarrassed or ashamed for doing so. You don’t need to be suicidal to ask for help. If you feel that living is misery, no matter what your reasons are, you have a right to talk to someone.

NEVER EVER THINK THAT YOU DON’T DESERVE SUPPORT. YOU DO.

Lifeline Numbers

 

And secondly, I’m thankful that I’m not only alive, but for the first time in my life, I feel like I’m thriving. I remember reading in chat rooms and blogs when I first started having the attacks when I left my apartment. I would sit in my room afraid to walk outside, reading stories about agoraphobia. What I kept hearing over and over again was this:

“You’ll never be better again. It will always stay with you. You might get “better”…

but you’ll never ever be “fine”. 

Well, bitches, listen up. That shit aint true. 

One of my idols is Jenifer Lewis, cuz she knows how to inspire in the face of adversity.

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And she’s damn right. If the elevator is broken, take the stairs. Sure, the fight is long and hard, but don’t ever give up. And don’t ever let anyone tell you that you don’t have a full life ahead of you, even if those are people who claim to know more than you.

I feel bad for the people on those chat rooms who are convinced that life won’t get better. I feel bad that they don’t believe in themselves. I feel bad that this is happening to them.

But one thing that really pisses me off, is when people try and tell other people that SHIT CAN’T HAPPEN. CUZ MOTHERFUCKERS, IT CAN.

I remember how scared I was after reading those stories. After hearing countless people who suffered in the same way that I was, tell me that this will never get better. I never want anyone to feel that way.  And nobody should ever have to.

 

So, this holiday season, remember to help others, but also help yourself. Grab a tea, go for a walk, paint a picture, open a nonprofit, star in a movie, become president, change the world.

Ready for some inspiration? Ok, here it comes…..

 

 

510

Naaaaaaaants ingonyaaaaama bagithi Babaaaa!!!!

choir comes in: Sithi uhm ingonyama!!!!!

lion

 

 

5 years goin, and still aint proofreading!

~The Dark Horse

Finals Week…

final

This is it. Today is my last final. 

After this, I’m free.

Free to enjoy winter break and relax a little before the next wave of stress begins with the move to New York.

But for now, I’m slowly dying.

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The weird mixture of stress and excitement that fills finals week is always a strange one. You can see the finish line. It’s so close! IT’S.  RIGHT.  THERE!  If only I could touch it! 

But before you can reach the finish line, there’s the tests and the 25 page essays which require (clutches my pearls) scholarly citations! Truly the scariest things that have ever happened to this world.

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But, though it’s stressful and your life lacks sleep, and even though I’ll probably get sick after this is all over, it’s worth it. Because once finals week is done, you can take that deep breath and know that soon you’ll board a plane home and see your family, eat lots of food, and enjoy the holidays!

home!

 

 

So, wish me luck and let’s pray I don’t die.

And to any other student reading this (expect those lazy people at Dartmouth who already finished their semester…) I wish you the best. We shall go to war together.

hunger

happy Hunger Games everyone! 

 

~ The Dark Horse

What Is It That We Want?

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I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.

I want to find true happiness in life, but what is true happiness?

For me, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s the combination of 2 things:

The Personal Life

and

The Meaningful Life

 

 

First off, we have the personal life. This is you and your family, friends, loved ones, romantic interests, and so on. It’s the social connections that keep us as humans from losing our fucking minds. Think this isn’t true?

Well, here’s some news articles for you on the topic:

BBC

New Republic

Science

I learned that social isolation destroys you the hard way… I was socially isolated.

Growing up gay in Ohio, with parents who were homophobic (and trust me, I love my parents, I understand they were just a product of their time. I hold no resentment towards them). Anyways, with everyone avoiding you like some kind of untouchable, and then not even being able to tell your own family about how wrong everything is, you go a little insane.

You go inwards. You start to live in your own world because the one around you doesn’t want you in it. For me, I had a savior. I had what I thought would fix everything. I had the dream of…

LA

LOS ANGELES

 

I told myself that LA would change everything. There, I’d find where I belonged. The people in California would be different. They would love me. And I’d go into the film industry because what’s more accepting of differences than Hollywood? (Rimshot please!)

But again, I was alone. I had nobody to tell me otherwise. I had nobody to guide me. I had nobody to make see how shallow and horrible LA is, especially for someone as socially retarded as me.

So, from the very first day I arrived in LA after high school, everything collapsed. I didn’t know how to connect with anyone. I had never drank, or smoked, or been to a party, or a concert, or stayed over at a friends house, or anything.

I’d try to connect and make friends, and it would instantly fall apart. Actually, it wouldn’t fall apart because it never got to the point where there was anything to fall apart. People just looked at me like I was this strange mutant from bumfuck nowhere…which, let’s be honest, I kind of was, and then they’d keep walking, making sure to keep their distance.

And thus, depression and anxiety crept into my life. My dream. My salvation. The cure-all that I always thought LA would be for my life…wasn’t. My only bit of hope was crushed and gone, and there was no longer anything to hold me together.

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I remember Bruce Vilanch once said something like, “Ah yes! LA, where the palm trees are filled with crows.”

Well, I had started to see the crows.

 

 

But on the flip side, focusing simply on your social life also kills you. I learned this in Melbourne.

mel

 

I somehow managed to finish college in LA. And sure, there was that whole part where I dropped out because I lost my mind and wound up on the streets having sex for rent money, and there was that last year in LA where the depression was so bad that I’d collapse everywhere I went, but ya know, how time flies….

And so, I found myself with a Work and Holiday visa in Melbourne, Australia. SURELY GOOD PEOPLE EXISTED DOWN UNDER RIGHT? 

I went to Melbourne with one goal: It was time for me to be the dumb kid I wasn’t able to be in high school. My goals were to make good friends, fuck hot Aussie boys, get a boyfriend, and live it up!

And soon after I arrived I did find a friend group, and got a job at LUSH. But nothing seemed to get better… I was going out to bars with my friends (even though I don’t drink). I was going to food festivals with them. I was going to comedy shows. More bars. Clubs… bars… and more clubs and bars… OMG normal humans are so obsessed with bars and clubs, what the fuck is with that?????

And I just found myself bored. They would talk about their day, and the friends they knew, and gossip about others, and share memories of their past, and I would sit there, staring off into space, realizing something was wrong; I NEEDED A PURPOSE. I would go to work at LUSH, and be bored, because it’s retail and retail isn’t mentally stimulating. Then, I’d go to some bar and listen to these shallow people talk about shallow things, and I’d still be bored…even though I thought I had what I wanted.

I WAS SITTING WITH A GROUP OF FRIENDS!!!! It was everything I would have dreamed to have when I was 15. But now that I had it, I realized life isn’t just about sitting in a bar with friends. If that was enough for me then I should have just stayed in Ohio like everyone else… But life needs to have meaning. I wanted a career. Something I could be furiously happy about. Something I could invest myself in that would change the damn world! I didn’t care that Leon got a hot girl’s number, or that his ex-girlfriend wanted to get back with him, or about how excited he was to try shrooms for the first time.  I wanted to bash my head into the wall.

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So, despite my naive intentions, Melbourne was a bust. (Oh, and also, I go so miserable and destitute that my depression and anxiety burst into agoraphobia… what fun…)

 

 

And, just to really make sure that I knew what I was talking about, I made the mistake again! I went home broke, because I lost all my money paying for therapy, had to get a job in retail in my hometown to re-save up money, then I ran away again to Auckland…JUST TO WORK IN RETAIL! What the fuck was I thinking?????? 

auk

 

And so that was two more wasted years of my life….

But Auckland is where the change happened. I was in therapy one day, and I was just like, “JESUS FUCKING CHRIST!!!! WHAT AM I DOING?” I had a midlife crisis at the age of 25. I was like, “HOLY FUCKBALLS! IM GOING TO BE STUCK IN THIS CYCLE FOREVER UNLESS I CHANGE IT RIGHT FUCKING NOW!!!!!!”

And thus, the plan was formed. I decided to apply for grad school. There, I could gain more experience, find mentors, meet other determined people, and reboot my life.

And that’s when I got into a program at Harvard, and the rest is history… Now, I’m getting ready to make the move to New York City with a great job offer that I’m so excited and proud to have.

 

And that’s why I think that life needs both. You need your social half, but you also need your meaningful half. It’s a tough tightrope to walk, finding both. And lord knows I’ve fallen off that rope many a time… But, I think for lasting joy, and true fulfillment, that’s how it’s done.

 

Keep up the dream!

~ The Dark Horse

AIDS IS HELL

crisis

 

This is the last week of school before Christmas break. And for Tuesday’s class, we’ve been tasked with reading Paul Monette’s Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir. And this is the strangest feeling ever.

Im so excited for Christmas break. No school. No homework. Just relaxation and the joys of Christmas – The lights, the music, the snow, the food. the presents!  And yet, that joy is mixed with a feeling of nausea. Reading this book is probably one of the hardest I’ve had to read, along with our books on the Holocaust last month. Ever page weighs on my chest.

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AIDS crept into the gay community like a stalker in the night. The virus itself is actually brilliant. It’s smart. It knows how to survive. It can sit dormant for long periods of time, infecting more and more of your body before any dire symptoms arise. By the time the worlds realized that there was a “Gay disease” it was too late. Enough men were infected with the virus (and were also asymptomatic) that it was hopeless. Men were having sex because they felt fine, unknowingly spreading the virus that caused what was then called “gay-related immune deficiency” or GRID.

There were tons of misinformation in the beginning. The disease was prevalent among Haitians, leading researchers to believe that was the origin of the disease. Also, since it was mainly gay men having with the disease, it was assumed it was a gay problem. And with America being both racist and homophobic, GRID wasn’t seen as a problem, because really, who cared about faggots and poor foreigners anyways? was the common thought.

The disease spread, originally being seen as something that only big-city slutty gays would get. It was believed that exposure took time, and related sexual intercouse. New York and San Fransisco were the hotbeds of the disease for America, with LA leading on their tail.

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The Reagan administration was completely homophobic, passing no LGBT legislation, and Reagan was openly against homosexuality. Along with that, many religions refused to to take part in what was now known as HIV (Human immunodieffeinrcy virus) education. The church refused to take a stance, saying only condoms were against God and that refraining from sex was the only answer for gays.

Gay men were dropping like flies. The death-toll rose daily. HIV cases began sprouting up around the world in countries like Australia, Canada, Brazil, and had been in Africa for quite some time (It is now believed that HIV originated in Kinshasa, DRC, and was transferred to humans from the primate disease SIV).

The gay community sat and wondered wonder if they would survive, or if they were simply waiting for their turn to die.

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A slew of early-stage HIV medication was used, like AZT, with little success. And protests began, begging the world to take the disease seriously and stop the genocide of the gay community.

 

Finally, in the late-90’s and into the 2000’s, after the gay community suffered in fear and mourning for almost 20 years, AIDS research took a turn for the better with more funding and more dedicated research being given to the disease. And all of this wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for the grassroots non-profits and the protests from groups like ACT UP.

Now, in 2018, we have Prep, which is a daily pill that can help reduce your chances of HIV infection with an almost 100% success rate. And we have PEP which is a series of pills that can be taken within 72 hours of exposure to the virus, and can prevent it from infecting you.

We also have our strongest set of weapons:  Knowledge. 

We know that condoms can save lives. We know that HIV is everywhere, not just the gay community. We know that being smart about sex, and being smart about who you have sex with, can also save lives.

 

Being a gay guy in 2018, I have to say that I am so fortunate and so privileged to benefit from the actions of the gay community of the 80s, 90s, and 00s. I’m so relieved that I never had to go through the crisis period, where they spent everyday finding out another friend was infected or had died, or worse still, finding out that they themselves had the disease.

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I remember the famous Newsweek cover about Saving Private Ryan that said “War Is Hell”

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Well, after reading this book I’ve also learned that HIV/AIDS is also hell. And the gay community were the grunts on the frontlines. The ones who died so that the world could come away with knowledge of the disease, and medication, and a future of potential hope.

 

And to all my fellow gays, here in 2018, I ask that we be smart. Viruses are much better at their jobs than we are. They evolve and adapt so much faster than human medication. And I know a lot of younger gays see Prep and PEP and the savior we’ve been waiting for. The “end of AIDS”, but viruses don’t work that way. If not used properly, the virus can form a resistance to the drug, thus creating a second epidemic that will take countless lives. And also, I know a lot of gays these days see Prep as such an all-all-encompassing cure, that they feel there is no longer a need for condoms.

To that I say, READ THIS BOOK. Read about how slow and agonizing a death from AIDS is. Read about wasting. Read about the constant weakness, the constant pain, and the knowledge that there is no cure. You want to see hell? I would imagine that dying slowly, knowing there is no way out of it, knowing that if you would have just used a condom all of this could have been prevented…. That’s hell. I can’t imagine a worse hell.

Because at the end of the day, HIV isn’t a disease for sluts or whores. It takes 1 time.

1 time.

 

1 single encounter.

 

That’s all. So always use a condom. 

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This Christmas, remember we are so fortunate to live in the time we live in. And because of that, we need to respect our past and those who died for us. And we also need to respect future generations. Do we want to pass HIV on to the next generation? FUCK NO.

So, this holiday season:

Get to know your sexual partner first,

Wear a motherfucking condom,

Volunteer at an HIV nonprofit, take part in and AIDS walk, or donate to a charity, like this one here: AIDS UNITED

Or, go to the next step, and help out at your local LGBTQ youth center. Help educate the new generation. Help inspire young runaways. Help in any way you can, because it’s our fucking duty as gays. Our community has been to hell and back, and let’s not go there again.

Can I get an Oorah!, please?

oorah

 

 

~ The Dark Horse