Category Archives: anxiety

The Best Memoirs About Overcoming a Crappy Life

THE BEST MEMOIRS

(And no, Mommie Dearest isn’t on the list. That’s the kind of book my mom would read.)

So, as I’ve stated numerous times before. I love write because it helps me talk about my life. I’d love to publish stories about what I’ve been through, and not surprisingly, I love a good memoir that does just that.

My criteria for a great memoir about overcoming a crappy life are as follows:

1.) It needs to be an interesting story. I’m sorry to all you 50-year-old women out there who want to write about your divorce…nobody cares.

2.) There needs to be humor and honesty. The second I start reading something that reeks of desperate and trying too hard for the drama, I’m done.

3.) It needs to be a story. I hate those memoirs that just turn into a rant about the philosophy of love and life and whatnot. I came to read your story, not your ill-formed journal entries.

**Special note** There will be no spoilers here!  I hate when “reviews” basically go in and tell you the entire damn plot-line of the story. 

Alright, here we go!

 

WILD by Cheryl Strayed

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An incredible story for sure. After her mother dies when she’s in college, Strayed falls into a deep spiral of self-destruction. The story takes place as Strayed hikes the Pacific Crest Trail, while weaving in flashbacks about her life that are heartbreaking and eye-opening. But her bad past only makes you root for her journey on the trail even more!

 

I AM NOT MYSELF THESE DAYS

by Josh Kilmer-Purcell

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Josh is living in NYC working in an ad agency. However, he leads a (sort of, but not really) secret double-life as an alcoholic drag queen Aquadisiac. However, one night, Josh gets not1caught up with a crack-addicted hustler and his life spirals out of control. Please note – I actually think that Josh is a complete piece of crap human. And there’s a few things that happen in the book where I’m like… I think you literally could have gone to jail for that… But it’s a very gripping book.

Plus, he lives on a farm now raising goats or something, so I guess he’s not anywhere where ha can cause more havoc. Also, I’m pretty sure they still see their goat-milk soap and stuff. You can buy Beekman products for your home and tell all your guests, “You know, this was made by a man who used to do drag and potentially killed a man!”  

 

 

WISHFUL DRINKING by Carrie Fisher

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Hilarious and jaw-dropping. It’s amazing to see the world that Carrie Fisher came from. It’s obviously fun because she’s a celebrity, so you know who she is, and you recognize all the names she mentions because they’re all famous too. It’s kind of like the best high school gossip you’ll ever get. But what really sets this apart from the other Hollywood gossip fluff reads, is how real and honest Carrie is. She doesn’t just talk about the funny stuff. She takes responsibility for her actions. She shows her scars. She shows you both sides of her life, and that makes it a fantastic read!

The highlight? When she creates the “Hollywood Incest” family tree she comes from. It’s truly laugh out loud.

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RUNNING WITH SCISSORS

by Augusten Burroughs

running

This poor kid… Oh man. A young Augusten is sent to live with his mom’s therapist.  Because that’s totally normal, right? And the therapist is just as crazy as his mom is. Watching Augusten navigate such an unconventional life surrounded by people who deserve to be institutionalized is mind-blowing. But he writes about it all with such a welcoming, open, and hilarious viewpoint, that you find yourself laughing, when in reality, we probably should be contacting Child Services.

What’s even cooler is that the entire family wrote books! His brother ended up writing a bestselling memoir about their fucked up family titled Look Me In The Eye that was wildly popular. And then, not to be outdone, their crazy mother tried her hand in the memoir game and wrote The Long Journey Home, where she desperately tries to defend how she treated her children.

 

 

PARTY MONSTER by James St. James

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Another book on our list where the author should probably actually be in jail right now.

Party Monster tells the story of club-promoter Michael Alig’s rise to fame in the New York club scene. Luckily, James was Michael’s best friend, giving us a firsthand look through it all. From his arrival in New York, to his rise to power, his spiral into the world of drugs, and ultimately, the grizzly murder of his drug dealer that later would send him to jail.

One thing that makes Party Monster so amazing is that, because they were all famous by the end, there’s documentation everywhere about the events. Articles in the Village Voice. Videos of them appearing on The Joan Rivers Show, and other books about them such as ‘Clubland’. But what really makes Party Monster so amazing is that its fucking hilarious. You will never in your life laugh as hard while reading about a murder, I guarantee it! 

 

 

Special Mention: David Sedaris

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Not quite on the list… but Sedaris writes some great stuff about his life. However, some of his writing can be a little boring. And I’m pretty sure everyone on Earth has already read him anyways.

If you haven’t read him yet, what you need to do is buy Holidays On Ice, and read Santaland Diaries.

 

Get Reading!

~ The Dark Horse

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Crossing The Sea: Finding Your Way In Dark Times

 

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So, I’ve recently started submitting my writing to literary journals and publications.

So far, I have received nothing but a lot of rejections.

I even applied for an internship at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and was rejected. However, their email said, “Although we’re impressed by your credentials…”

Maybe they say that to everyone? Or maybe not? Who knows? 

Point is this: The more I write about my life, the more confident I’m becoming, despite the rejections. I’m realizing that I’ve actually been through stuff. Stuff that’s worth of being written about.

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I intern at two literary journals right now, and for one of them, I’m helping with editing. AND I TOTALLY DON’T SAY THIS TO BE MEAN, BUT…. Some of the stuff we publish is mind-blowingly uninteresting. Especially in this 2018 environment. The amount of stories I get that are like, “I’m a woman and one time in 1972 A man grabbed my breast (shirt still on) and It’s destroyed me ever since and it’s ruined my entire life, and I don’t know how I’ll ever recover…

Literally, we’re about to publish a story right now about a woman who claims that, back in the day when she was a young beatnik, she hung around the dirty art-scene bars in NYC. And at one point she saw a semi-famous artist there. She approached him and flirted. Then he smacked her ass, and she claims, art was forever ruined for her. Like… a guy touching her somehow destroyed the entire concept of art. She claims she couldn’t even look at paintings for over forty years. And not just paintings by this artist who touched her, but any and all paintings by any man.

She claims that when she looks at a painting by a man, all she can see now is the destructive angry beast behind it, looking to abuse women.

NOW LOOK: I am a full supporter of the #metoo movement. And I also believe women when they discuss their experiences. Like, Dr. Ford for example, that is fucking bravery. The women who came forward about Cosby, and others like him, also bravery. I fully embrace them.  And I even embrace this woman for having gone through that moment in the bar.

But I also believe in stakes. In writing, we have stakes. Stakes are the what happened and why is it important enough to be telling a story things within a story.

For example, what’s at stake in The Day After Tomorrow? The entire human race’s survival. Get it?

And when stakes don’t match the circumstances, the story tends to fall flat, and die. For example, using The Day After Tomorrow: If the scientist at the beginning of the movie was like, “Global warming has melted a section of the polar ice cap, and within the next year, global sea levels will rise by 1/9th of an inch. ALERT THE PRESIDENT! TELL EVERYONE TO GO TO THEIR UNDERGROUND SHELTERS NOW!!!!!!

That seems like crap right? It’s like, something in your brain goes, YES THAT IS BAD! WE SHOULD WORK ON THAT….BUT THE END OF THE WORLD IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW? BECAUSE OF 1/9th OF AN INCH?

And that’s how I feel with a lot of memoir-type stories I’m seeing these days. I’m like, yes. It’s crappy that the artist slapped your ass… but, then the entire concept of art was ruined for you for 40 years after that? Really? You promise you’re not embellishing a little in the hopes of riding the wave of #metoo and get yourself published? Or perhaps, if this is true…is it possible that you’ve really just let this slap on the ass effect you a little too much? Is this really a #metoo moment story, or is this a mental illness story? Or a story of self obsession, about a women who, if this is the worst moment of her life, is actually extremely privileged? Because the stakes don’t add up. I’m sorry. They don’t.

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ANYWAYS, I’VE GONE WAY OFF TOPIC.  POINT IS THIS:

Reading stories like these is really annoying to me. (And it actually makes me a little bit angry too, considering that I think these women are demeaning the #metoo movement by embellishing their stories for attention) BUT, It also gives a breath of inspiration. It makes me want to write and share my stories. And most importantly, I WANT TO CHANGE THE NARRATIVE.

When I write about the time I spent in LA on the streets, or the my agoraphobia in Melbourne, or being beaten up in high school – I want to write about this with humor and hope. I hate the self-pity and misery that accompanies the modern-day personal narrative genre. (Don’t believe me? Well, here’s a NYT article stating it too…just so you can’t call me crazy: THE PROBLEM WITH MEMOIRS )

I just scrolled ALL THE WAY DOWN TO THE BOTTOM OF MY BLOG, TO MY VERY FIRST POST. (Oh god…THE SCROLLING!!!! THE SCCCCRRRRROOOOLLLLLLIIINNNGGG!!!!!)

My first post was on December 13th, 2013. I was trapped in my apartment in Melbourne with agoraphobia. Completely alone. I had just gotten on the phone with the Lifeline. The woman on the phone told me I should blog. I should have an avenue to vent through. I started this blog that very day. At the end of that post I said this:

oh oh ! Before I forget.  the BIGreason for this blog is because I have HOPE.  I have hope that I can be happy and feel good about myself one day.  And I want you to have hope as well

 

I’ve felt like a lost boat at sea for so long. Like I didn’t know what direction to take or where to go. All I knew is that I didn’t want to die. I didn’t to give up. But where to go? There was no land in sight, and I was lost.

But now, I feel more motivated. More structured. I want to share my stories. I want to inspire people. I don’t want to dwell in self doubt. I want things to be better. I want others to be better. Fuck the self-pity memoir. Let’s all be more like Jenny Lawson, Carrie Fisher, or David Sedaris. Let’s look back at our lives and laugh,

cuz bitches, WE SURVIVED IT!

We triumphed. Let’s remember that.

sail

I think I’ve finally found land.

 

~ The Dark Horse

Hanson, And The Youth I Never Got To Have

DAMN YOUHANSON

 

So, feel free to judge me. I have no shame. I was listening to Hanson on YouTube yesterday.

Yeah.

Deal with it.

Anyways, it gets even more embracing than that.

So, I’m watching a live recording of their song This Time Around:

And as I’m watching the video, I realize that I’m staring at the guy singing… holy fuck dude, he was so fuckin hot! 

Look at him! 

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Look at the flawless skin. Those soft perfect lips. That perfect hair! That in-shape and healthy body. Look at that human perfection.

I’m 28. But I feel so much older. If anyone has read tis blog before you probably know, and for anyone who hasn’t, well, my past was filled with going through hell in my hometown of Ohio for being gay, running away to LA, only to wind up having sex on the streets for money, which did wonders for my mental stability, then I went to Melbourne where I struggled with anxiety, panic, and even became agoraphobic. I’ve been alone almost my entire life. Having to be an army of one. I’ve struggled with sex addiction. I struggle with my self-esteem. I feel alone all the time. And I fear I’ll never bee successful and that I’ll die alone.

On the inside, I’m not 28. I feel like a haggard 80 year old on their death bed. I don’t know how I’ve even managed to be such a horrible person. Or how I’ve managed to live this long.

And then watching this video, it just hit me. YOUTH. I never got to have a social life in high school. I hardly even had interaction with people my age. Nobody would speak to me. And then after high school when I went to LA… well, that wasn’t exactly my finest hour….

And Melbourne… I was collapsing every time I left my apartment. Who would want to hang out with me? How was I supposed to make friends when I couldn’t even walk to the grocery store without having a mental breakdown?

And now, in retrospect, I look back….

The “Prime years” of my life. The years where most people are stupid, innocent, and naive. The years when most people are their youngest, healthiest, prettiest selves. When all they want to do is have fun. Unaware of how cruel the world is.

All mine were wasted. Mine were filled with nothing but struggle, pain, and misery.

And now what do I do? 

The “Best Years” that everyone spends the rest of their lives talking about are gone. I never had them. In fact I’m hoping that most people’s Best years, are the Worst that ever happen in my life.

han

 

ugh…. look at these little twats. They made so much god damn money off that fucking song…

Ugh… Im bitter today, sorry. 

 

 

Anyways….

So, I guess this is something I need to learn to live with and accept. My past is the past. It’s over. I will never get to have carefree years or dog days of summer. I won’t ever know what it’s like go to a Prom or a college party. I won’t ever know the blissful feeling of truly thinking the world is an easy place where the biggest worries of your day is “What am I going to do this weekend.”

That isn’t my life. And I’m hoping that there’s somehow a strength in that.

I’m hoping that it means something, or leads to something.

I’m hoping that my experience, as crappy as it was, somehow provides me with some sort of insight that will make my life better in the long run.

But who knows…

All I do know is,

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OMG WHO IS THIS ONE? He’s sooooooo sexy too!

God damn cute boys… motherfuckers should come with a *trigger warning* sign attached to them.

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But uuugghhhh….. Long hair piano boy has that voice.  OMG. This is hard. Who am I crushing on harder? I don’t even know anymore…

 

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Ok, I’m actually really falling for guitar guy. He’s clearly The Man of brothers.

 

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OH FUCKING HELL…. Please, take me anywhere, I shall follow!

 

 

Alright people, I’m gonna go cry and masturbate or something.

Keep on keeping on!

~ The Dark Horse

 

PS- OF course this wasn’t proofread, I’ve been lost in the surprisingly amazing **cough cough** voices of the Hanson brothers.

Finding Inspiration In Slasher Films

horror

 

So, I’m sure you all the know the story, or a story similar to it.  I was the gay kid in Ohio that nobody talked to. I was the outcast, the loser, the weirdo, the obnoxious one, the one that nobody felt bad about leaving behind.  (The Randy for any Scream fans out there…)

I spent my childhood watching movies. Movies were my everything. My escape, my friends, my teachers, my inspiration. Movies were my life. They were never afraid to spend time with me even though everyone else was.

 

Growing up I had always watched horror movies on TV. My mother is a great woman… a devout Catholic actually! However, she’s also an oddball. She’s the product of the late 60s and 70s. Her older brother was a rebellious one. He stayed up late with their father and discussed dodging the draft and running away to Canada. He showed her the Beatles, and The Stones. My mother is sort of a flower child. 

She used to let us watch The Shining with her when it was on TV. The Exorcist. The Fly (The black and white one. The real one, as she puts it). Dark Shadows. Whatever Happened To Baby Jane, Rosemary’s Baby… the “classics” according to my mother. I had an upbringing of horror from the very beginning.

But then; it was 1998. I was 8 years old. My friend (who, only 2 years later would stop talking to me for being gay, along with the rest of my hometown) rented Scream 2. It had just come out on VHS.

He had a brother and sister, twins, a year below us. And an older sister a good 4 or 5 years older than us. We all huddled in the dark basement and put in the movie.

From that very first scene in the movie theater, a scene that has become iconic in the horror world, I was hooked.

scream 2

 

I didn’t know it back then. I didn’t know what it was. I just knew I loved it. Especially Scream. Scream was so smart. So in-touch with everything around it. It was incredible.

And then, the Jada Pinkett Smith death scene.  OMG….ABSOLUTE HORROR LEGEND! 

scream 2 1

She’s going off on the white girl who’s about to die (I think it was..oh, whats her face…. Felicity Shagwell…  Whats her fucking name?  Heather Graham, that’s it!)  So she’s watching STAB in the theater and Heather Graham is playing Drew Berrymore from Scream 1. And Jada is yelling at the screen.   OMG. it was so perfect.

Random fact – If you don’t actually watch horror movies in theaters, you should. Black girls literally scream at the screen. It’s amazing, and all part of the moviegoing experience. I’ll never forget seeing Rob Zombie’s remake of Halloween in 2007 and this one girl was going off on all the white characters the whole movie. Comic gold!

ANYWAYS – then Jada realizes her man aint her man no more…

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And that was that. I was hooked. Horror became my life. I binged them all. Forever and ever afterwards, my entire life. I can’t get enough of horror, especially slasher.

One must honor the classics:

Halloween

Texas Chainsaw Massacre

A Nightmare on Elm Street

Hellraiser

And Friday The 13th (Although, AS EVERYONE KNOWS, the best part of the Friday movies, were the hot guys they casted) PS- do you know about “Frigay the 13th” and all the drama that went down on that set? GUUURRRLLL…..

 

And one must also appreciate the newer films of the genre:

Scream

I Know What You Did Last Summer

Behind The Mask

Urban Legend

Hatchet 

 

 

Ok… I’m getting so far off track, I’m sorry. Point is this: What does a loser have to love in slasher films? I mean, they’re movies about a bunch of hot popular people having sex and going to parties. It’s everything my life wasn’t right?

Wrong. 

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Slasher films actually revolve around the lone female who survives. Known as the “survivor girl” or “final girl” in the horror community, but more commonly known as “Scream Queens”. These women are the true force behind every great slasher movie.

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Scream Queens aren’t like the others in the movies. Scream Queens normally are virgins, normally don’t do drugs, tend to be more intelligent than their friends, and are never the most popular in the group. In fact, sometimes, they’re the ones the group believes in the least. And yet, they end up being the ones who rise above, and mange to outsmart the killer, becoming the lone survivor.  (Although, in some films you have multiple survivors)

 

And in a few films, the Scream Queen role is replaced by a male (example: Elijah Wood in The Faculty).  The Scream Queen rules remain in the cases of a “Scream King”

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Do you now see why an outcast like me would love these movies?

Watching the people who made fun of me, the people who always told me I’d never get to be one of them…they all die. And the person like me, the one nobody believed in, ends up being the strongest, the smartest, the survivor. 

Because of that, slasher movies hold a transcendent quality. And I know Im not the only one who thinks that. I know a lot of outcasts who have found great inspiration and strength in slasher movies. In fact there’s a shit ton of scholarly writing on it.

So what am I saying??

I’m saying, DO YOURSELF A FAVOR AND GET INSPIRED! It’s time to watch some slasher movies! (Because it’s good for you of course!)

jamie

 

~ The Dark Horse

OMG OMG OMG WAIT! Do you remember Freddy Vs. Jason?  (squeal!) 

That scene, when the main girl drags Freddy out of her dream and into the real world so he can fight Jason…. OMG… When Freddy first comes into our word and sees Jason and is like…. oh boy, I am fuckedddddd.   Why don’t these movies win Oscars?


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What China Taught Me

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So, I got back from China a month ago, and I realize I still havent blogged about my time there. And I think it’s pretty important to.  So, here it goes: I was there for a summer internship, and I recently returned back to Boston for school.

However, I’ve come back a changed man.

I feel more confident now. More sure of myself. Stronger. Wiser. and…. Well… I’m trying to figure out why.

Don’t get me wrong. I love this new feeling. I love feeling like I’ve somehow reached a new milestone in my life. A new “breakthrough” as the physiology world would like to call it.

And I think I’ve discovered what happened:

I was teaching English with this program. The program was horrible. The other Americans there were racist against Chinese people. They hated China and thought it was so “like totally weird” as one girl put it. And so, I had no choice but to breakaway.

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I taught my class. I had to obviously. It was how I was making my money in China. But after the schoolday was over, I left. I didn’t hang with the Americans at all. I needed to escape their toxic, and frankly, disgusting fucking attitude towards the world. I still get mad just thinking about it.

Like when my boss…my 35 year old boss who chose to work in China picked up a pair of child scissors, and then said “I wish they made full-sized scissors in this country, but Asians have these damn midget hands” ……

There are so many problems with that, not to mention that my classroom had full-sized scissors, so my boss had either gone his entire 3 years in China using only child scissors, or he just didn’t respect Chinese people (and apparently little people either).

And that was just one of MANY…. Don’t even get me started on the time when my boss brought the two African American teachers into a classroom and said, “We’re doing a scavenger hunt for the students and one of the tasks is to take a picture with someone born in Africa, so they’re probably going to come up to you and ask for pictures… is that ok?”

FIRST OFF: THIS IS COMPLETELY TRUE. PEOPLE, I SHIT YOU NOT.

AND SECONDLY, WHY SAY THAT WHILE I’M IN THE ROOM? HOW STUPID ARE YOU? So obviously, when the two black teachers went and told everyone what he said, I was there to back their story up.

OK. MOVING FORWARD. MY BLOOD PRESSURE IS GOING OFF THE CHARTS JUST THINKING ABOUT THAT FUCKING PROGRAM.

 

ANYWAYS…..

So there I am. In China. I don’t know much of the language. I don’t know a single person. And the one thing that I’m sure of is that I want nothing to do with anyone in my program. I signed up for that program being promised a great way to visit China, make some money, and have a group of friends to explore with.

That wasn’t going to happen…..

So, I ventured out alone. I had no other choice. I couldn’t handle being around a group of people who went, “Squat toilets? OMG EWWWW LIKE, WHERE ARE WE, THE JUNGLE??”

I joined a gym. Gyms are a great way to burn off energy, meet people, stay healthy… and hey, if all else failed, and I literally couldn’t find anything to do, considering I was now in China alone, I could always bum around at the gym for hours.

So, I went to the nearest gym (which was three subway stops away at the China Art Museum Station). I walked in and held up my translation app. I tried showing the words, JOIN, GYM, MEMBERSHIP, WORKOUT, and EXERCISE, but nothing worked. The women at the front desk didn’t understand.

So I mimed the actions of lifting weights. Then I pointed to me. And then I pointed at the ground. Trying to show Me, workout, here. Finally, the women understood. They went and got a trainer to give me a tour. The trainer, named Tommy, was hot as all fucking hell.

PEOPLE LISTEN TO ME -> The young men of Shanghai are like the fucking Asian Adonis.

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They’re way taller than any Asian stereotype. They gym like crazy. Their skin is perfect and hair always impeccable.

I stared at Tommy and shook his hand. Oh my god his biceps.

He didn’t speak much English, and I didn’t speak much Chinese. We toured the gym completely using translate apps.

He would speak into the app: “1,000Rmb for the summer.”

It would translate it to English, and then he would hand me the phone.

I would then say, “1,000 is too much. Make it lower.”

Then it would translate it to Mandarin, and I would hand it back to Tommy.

Something about haggling with an app, rather than face-to-face emboldened me. It was much easier to demand a cheaper price when you didn’t have to look the guy in the eye when asked.

Finally, after much back-and-forth and such, we arranged that I would pay 600Rmb for the summer. A good 400Rmb cheaper than the original offer. After I paid, Tommy, my new gym buddy, had me add him on WeChat (which is like the Chinese WhatsApp…and Facebook…and Instagram…and Apple Pay…it’s kind of like everything, really)

That night, I felt proud. I had just walked into a gym and managed to get a membership and haggle the price, even though I hardly spoke the language at all.

Then, I got a message from Tommy. It was in Chinese, but luckily WeChat has a mode that translates it.

He said he wanted to hangout. He could teach me Chinese and I could teach him English.

Obviously I said yes. How could I turn down a hot straight gym guy who wanted to hang out with me?

I told him yes.

He responded with: 哥们

I translated it, and it read brothers. 

I didn’t immediately know what it meant, but I imagined that it was probably the Chinese version of calling someone “Bro”. The idea that a hot guy called me bro made my heart beat fast… also, it got me a little horny.

 

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My gym was in Pudong, along with my work. So I started visiting areas of Puxi a lot (the other side of the river). I did a lot of exploring around The French Concession, Shanghai’s  trendiest area. It’s tree-lined streets, cafes, and mega-malls were always fun. And it was there that I made another group of friends. I wandered into a bookstore/cafe called The Mix Place.

 

I was walking around, flipping trough books and magazines, blown away by cool this place was. Then a girl next to me, very shyly informed me that the books here are all in Chinese.

I smiled, and said that it was fine. Then I complimented her on how good her English was. She blushed and acted shy. She told me studied a year in America, in San Diego. Then her friends, another girl, and a guy (who of course was fucking hot as hell. How do these Shanghainese guys stay so fucking fit?) We got to talking. I told them about my love of Asian food, and how I fell in love street food like Jianbing and baos.

They were all impressed that I, an American, had ventured into the realm of Shanghai street food. We all swapped WeChats.

Flash-forward a few days, and we were all hanging out again. Running amok all over the city. Imagine one of those movie montages where a group of friends are running around town, eating all the food, laughing, walking through the city lights, and there’s all that fun music playing to much fanfare, hoo-ha, and pfeffernusse.

We tried foods I wouldn’t dare alone. Stinky Tofu, century eggs, Chicken stomach.

We also got amazing treats, like milk tea, bubble tea, duck jerky, soup dumplings, and the list went on.

 

It was a culinary bender of epic proportions.

And we did this A LOT! It wasn’t just once! These people became good friends of mine. We hung out a lot, and It was amazing. They showed me Shanghai.  The ins, the outs. The wonderful, and the even more wonderful.

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On the train, where to next? The options were endless.

 

 

BUT DON’T THINK I STOPPED GOING TO THE GYM! I gymed 5 days a week.

And Tommy was a big help with that. Being able to walk in and get a high-five from that sexy motherfucker was a huge incentive. Then we’d say hi and ask each other how we we’re doing. Then there was this one time when I saw him in the locker room. After his shifts, he would work out… and I saw him in his underwear! (squeal!)  Oh my god. I don’t know what else to say besides that he was just a beautiful work of art.

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And then came the day when we actually hung out. We got coffee (but both of us ordered tea) We did a lot of talking through WeChat translate and Google Translate. He always gave me a look though… A look that made me think maybe, just maybe… he wasn’t straight. I never asked him, I liked the silent, multi-language game of cat and mouse we had developed.  Was I his bro? Was he just a super confident and sexy-as-all-hell man?    … or was he secretly wanting me as much as I wanting him?

 

Through Tommy, I was introduced to more of the Shanghai gym bros. And I have to admit, I developed crushes on all of them.  And here’s the best part: Shanghai has 24 million people. There isn’t much room to have personal space. To solve this problem, the folks of Shanghai just stopped caring about personal space. (How easy is that?) It was totally normal for one of the gym bros to see me in the locker room, while he was completely naked, just chillin out naked, cuz why not? And then just start chatting with me. My eyes would always wander southward… glimpsing at the pecs….the six pack….the adonis belt…. OMG HOW DO THEY DO IT? 

 

By the end of the summer, between my French Concession friends, and my gym bros, I had a very full social life in Shanghai. More full than here in America actually…

Is that kind of sad?  Naw.

Anyways, it’s like this: I realized that I built a life for myself in a city I didn’t know, learning the language as I went along. It was a crash course in life. But I did it. I survived.

Nay!…not survived, I thrived!

I said fuck you to the all douchebags around me. They spent their entire summer experiencing “China” only by clubbing with other Westerners in the tourist clubs until 4am, coming back to campus, having to wake up at 730 to “teach”, after class they’d go take their naps, so they could be ready to hit the clubs again that night.

They ended up loving “China” by avoiding China. They stayed in their groups of 10 or more Americans, keeping each other safe and in a bubble that would never be questioned. They were weak.

On the flight home, I thought of Tommy, and the other sexy as fuck gym bros.

blarg

 

And then I thought of my French Concession friends. And how much fun I had running all over the city, eating everything in site.

And that’s when I realized I had balls. 4 years ago I was collapsing from agoraphobia in Australia. The depression I was trying to fix, alone, for the past ten years had finally broken me. The depression brought anxiety, which brought panic, which ultimately led me to lock myself in my apartment, afraid to experience more panic attacks in the outsides world..

But now, I felt like the King of Shanghai.

How time flies right? 

 

~ The Dark Horse

(PS- I’d like to thank Harry Shum Jr. for standing in as my “Tommy” visual representation.)

 

 

 

A Simple Moment

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So, I was walking along the Charles River the other evening, and despite my intense desire to this hate world and fill my mind with pessimism….I saw this.

 

I took this picture of a mother goose with her little chicks all cuddled up with each other to stay warm. In that moment my heart was melting.  And I hate it when my heart melts because It feels like weakness…but uuuuugggghhhhhhhh BABY GEESE CHICKS!

Just look at em!

Even the coldest, hardest heart has to give in sometimes.

 

river

As I walked along the river, the cuteness continued.  There were goose chicks everywhere!  Some looked like teenage geese, while others were just learning how use their little flippers to walk. Mother and father geese stood guard as their little ones plopped in and out of the river.  I have never seen so many geese chicks before, and I’ve never been able to be so close to them!  These geese didn’t even care that we were there.  I’m gonna say there was probably like, at least 50 geese chicks around me.  Waddling with the adorableness of springtime.

I just said the adorableness of springtime…  Ugh, I hate myself right now.

But cmon, how can you not feel all gooey inside after watching little chicks waddle their butts and trip over their flippers that are just way too big for their little baby goose bodies?

 

Anyways, what’s my point here?  Oh, right!  Ok, the point here is this:  We have a way of getting so lost in our heads sometimes that we forgot to enjoy the world around us.  We stress about things, we regret the past, we dread the future, we feel lonely, we feel overworked, we feel a lot of things.  But then suddenly, a baby goose waddles by and instantly you’re brought back into the real world. You’re pulled out from that dark cavernous head of yours and you remember…..

…Oh yeah, the sun is shining. It’s a blue sky. I have an ice tea with me. And there is complete unabashed innocence and purity waddling right on by. That goose chick doesn’t care about struggles, he just wants to catch up to his buddies who are learning how to grow up and fly. He’s living in the moment….SO WHY AREN’T WE?

Let’s try and find more moments to enjoy. let’s try to find more moments that will bring us into the real world.  More moments that will make us smile, because let’s all be real here…. we humans never smile enough.

 

Go get inspired!

~ The Dark Horse