Tag Archives: hope

I’m Getting Published!

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So, I received an email from a literary magazine the other day, and it seems that the Dark Horse is finally about to get published! (Confetti falls from the ceiling and there’s much fanfare throughout the entire human population… Or… well, really, I called my mom and she was proud of me. But it feels like fanfare I say!)

 

Anyhoo, that’s all beside the point. The point which is this: I have been working my ass off, and it’s finally started paying off!

If I were to flashback to 2 years ago, when I first started my masters program in writing and literature, with nothing on my resume besides retail. Or to 5 years ago, when I was stuck in my Melbourne apartment, agoraphobic, and miserable. Or if I flash-backed to 6 years ago, when I arrived back to Ohio after undergrad, feeling like a complete failure because I didn’t make anything of myself in LA. I never would have thought that any of this would ever be possible.

 

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I’ve spent most of my twenties feeling like a failure. Feeling like life wasn’t wroth living. Feeling like I would never ever make anything of myself. The spark of hope was the faintest flicker, off in the distance of some cold dark foggy night.

Writing is what got me through it all. I’ve journaled since I was 7. And I started this blog in 2013, back when my mental health was so poor that I couldn’t even leave my bedroom without feeling weak. Writing. Venting. Creating. It was what kept me going.

 

 

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When I was a kid growing up in Ohio, I knew I wanted to tell stories. I was the lone gay kid lost in a sea of uneducated, hateful trash. Movies and books were the only things that ever gave me inspiration and showed me that life could be worth living. I always knew I wanted to give that to other people.

It wasn’t until recently that I figured out it would be my story I’d be telling. The stories of growing up in Ohio. Of being a lonely sex addict in Los Angeles. Of suffering from depression and anxiety. Of collapsing all over Australia. But most importantly, of never giving up. 

I’m so excited to see the the future has in store.  Did you hear that? I’m excited for my future. That is a very recent feeling in my life. I’m looking forward to what’s next. I’m excited to see how the publication process works. I’m excited to see what people think of my writing. I’m excited to write more! And above all, I’m excited to have an adventure. Because isn’t that what life should be about?

 

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Rock on bitches, rock on!

 

~ The Dark Horse

 

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The Secret Cure To Depression is… Laundry?

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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?

 

 

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.

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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?????? 

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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

NEW YORK, HERE I COME!

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So, as I mentioned last time, I had an interview in New York last Monday for a television company. Not even joking, on Friday, just FOUR DAYS after the interview, I received a phone call.

Ladies and gentlemen, it appears the Dark Horse has had a victory. I will be going to New York in January!!!!! WOOOOOHOOOO!!!!!

And this got me thinking about my journey here in grad school. When I first arrived at Harvard, I had nothing. I didn’t know a single person in Boston. I had no internships or connections to professors.

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I picked up a job at Whole Foods to pay for rent (and luckily I have federal grants for tuition). I had no real skills that I knew of, although I knew I was smart, and I knew that I knew how to survive. But nobody had every cared about me, or had ever given me a chance in life. Mostly, I just felt alone and stupid.

Essentially, I had no real skills to speak of that would make an employer outside of the food industry think I’m worth investing in. I had always taken the first job I could find somewhere, completely terrified of the idea of being unemployed and homeless. This means I’ve lived an entire life slogging through whatever restaurant or retail chain would give me a job. And thus was the cycle. Restaurants lead to restaurants. Retail leads to retail. My brain slowly rotting away with boredom in the process.

I always knew I wanted more. I was never one of those people who could work their 9-5, bored out of their fucking minds, and then justify their horrible life by going to bars and drinking it all away every Friday and Saturday….just to then have to repeat the cycle the next Monday.

 

But, growing up in Ohio during recession made me afraid.

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I watched as adults with college degrees applied to work in the diner I worked in. I thought it was so strange and scary that I, a high school student, was working the same position as someone with a college degree.

I watched my mom lose her job due to a merger, then lose her next job due to a merger, then the next due to the company going bankrupt. By the time America had finally climbed out of the hole, she had been through 5 jobs.

 

But the whole time…I knew something was wrong.

Everyone kept telling me to be thankful for what I had. They kept telling me to get my head out of the clouds. They kept telling me about the dangers of big cities (which actually, is hilarious, because my hometown has a worse crime rate than cities like New York, Los Angeles, and San Fransisco). But, when you’re 16, and everyone around you keeps telling you that being a waiter is better than being homeless, it’s hard not to let it get to you.

 

And so, I worked and worked, and the depression, the misery, and the boredom grew until it was intolerable and I lost my mind.

Flash-forward to being in grad school. I knew I needed to make a change in my life. I knew I had what it took to achieve my goals. I knew that if I could just have some way to prove myself, I could show the world that I was a force to be reckoned with.

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And what better place to do it right?

And so, the job at Whole Foods turned into a job on campus, giving me more flexibility to get involved in school,

which led to me joining clubs,

And then I picked up an internship with a nonprofit where I created Facebook posts to help inspire students,

Which then led to another internship managing social media for a literary magazine,

which led to editing for that literary magazine,

which led to me getting an internship at a second literary magazine,

which led to me getting an internship with a podcast,

and then my internship with the literary magazine started paying (woohoo!),

and then I created and hosted a huge event at school,

and there was that paid job I had in Shanghai over the summer that I never would have gotten without all the other experience from being back in school,

and now, the real fuckin’ deal. Working for a big TV channel in New York City.

Is this the fabled American Dream ? 

Have I just made something of myself ? 

 

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Am I about to be a writer living in New York City? Just a small-town boy tryin to make it in the big city?

(Also, (Groans) Im sorry for using yet another Sex and the City GIF… God, Im such trash…)

 

 

Anyways, I’m excited for my future.

I’m excited and I think my writing talents have grown. I believe in my writing now. I believe that I can get published.

I also believe that my life can be filled with adventure.

and most importantly, meaning and happiness. 

 

Are there people out there who are happy living in Ohio or Iowa or Indiana? YES.

AND GOOD FOR THEM! THEY CAN DO WHATEVER THE FUCK THEY WANT.

But just like they’re allowed to work at H&R Block in some city like Dayton, you’re also allowed to go big, and want to work a big city, doing whatever the hell you want. Never let the people from where you’re from try and tell you you’re not allowed to dream big. Because changes in this world only happen when people dream big.

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~ The Dark Horse

(#NotProofRead. Proofreading is for your grandma! Live on the dangerous side!)

The Highs and the Lows: Riding The Emotional Wave

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So, I just got back last night from New York City. I was there for an interview.

Yes. Someone actually thought I was good enough to be interviewed in New York City. (I can’t believe it either, trust me)

So, anyways, it goes like this. I was here alone for Thanksgiving break. The entire city clears out because Boston is one of those places where people move to, not someplace where they’re from. So the city is empty. It’s 10 degrees F, everything is closed. And I’m alone.

I feel like shit.

Until….

I get an email. 

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This email is to inform me that I have an interview, for a very large company. A media company. A media company whose offices are in a very trendy building with other very trendy companies in a very trendy part of town.

So, my dread turns to intense anxiety and joy, and I head to NYC as fast as I can…

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So,  wind up in a hotel, next to Bryant Park,

during the holiday season

in New York City.

It was like a movie.

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I ate sweets as I watched ice skaters while Christmas jazz played, with the Empire State Building in the background.

I got donuts, I went to New York delis, I got amazing Chinese food. I walked fifth Ave. and Central Park.

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It was like life had gone from zero to hero. Finally, I had a real tangible piece of evidence to prove that I was making something of myself. An interview. (This was actually my second interview…the first was via phone). So, it was like a MEGA self-esteem boost to see that someone thought I was good enough. And not just someone, but a fuckin huge awesome company.

 

So then the day came. The interview. OMG people it was amazing. The office was amazing. And it was located in an awesome building. As someone who had grown up working retail and restaurants, and being told constantly that I’ll never get anywhere… THIS WAS FUCKING HUGE!!!!!

I hope the interview went well. I would love the job. I would love to live in New York. I would love to have a chance to show the world my skills. To show the world that I do mean something.

So, I walked out of my interview, and got myself a tea at a trendy little cafe.

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(I couldn’t write a post about NYC and not reference Sex and the City….cmon people!)

 

 

But now, Im back in Boston. The interview is over. The whirlwind is over. And It’s like someone has slammed on the brakes again.

And I have this feeling in my throat. Like a weight, pulling me down. A weight saying YOU KNOW YOU’RE MEANT FOR THAT LIFE. YOU KNOW YOU’RE MEANT TO TAKE ON THE WORLD. YOU DON’T LIKE YOUR LIFE BEING SLOW BECAUSE YOU’RE NOT A SLOW PERSON! YOU WANT TO LIVE IN THE FAST LANE AND THAT’S OK! YOU SHOULD! 

I’ve spent too long listening to people. Too long listening to anyone and everyone who’s willing to spend their time putting me down. Telling me I can’t. Telling me I have no talent. Telling me I’m worth nothing.

But GOD FUCKING DAMN I CAN’T ANYMORE.

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Every time I get these little tastes of a life I like, the voice in my head gets louder and louder. It keeps telling me this is where I belong.

It keeps telling me that I AM ALLOWED TO DREAM. That I am allowed to fight for a good life.

I’m allowed to have friends

I’m allowed to fall in love

I’m allowed to have a career I love

If I feel like I want a high profile job then listen up MOTHERFUCKERS… I CAN!

AND WE ALL CAN. FUCK ANYONE WHO TRIES TO KEEP YOU DOWN.

I read a great quote the other day that said something like, “The only people who try to put you down are those who are already beneath you.”

So boys and girls, let’s find out nicest clothes, polish up our self-esteem, brew a little confidence and rock out our best Carrie Bradshaw

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PS – Ive never actually watched Sex and the City…is it even good?

 

~ The Dark Horse 

 

Another PS- I also never proofread. Oh well.

 

Feeling Alive Again. Or, Courtney Act on Big Brother Has Brought Me Back From The Dead

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So, I don’t know how many people out there keep up with the UK telly, but something amazing was just going down on what is normally a generic and trashy reality show.

The 21st season of Big Brother in the UK just concluded and that shit was bloody brilliant! As an American, I didn’t know much about the show except that Courtney Act was going to be on the show.  Now, I’ll say, if I were 15 years old, I would have watched that show every night of the damn week.

You see, as a teenager, I used to love Big Brother….And you know what, I should probably have a Big Brother breakdown here for everyone, because Big Brother is completely different in every country around the world.

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Here in the US, Big Brother used to be like a fucking marathon event.  The show was on, for no joke, almost 3 months. That means that everyone who made it into the top 7 got to stay for the entire 3 month period, whether it’s in the house, or the sequester house.  I know that in other countries, the show is only on for about a month. And then sometimes those Celebrity Big Brother seasons are only like 3 or 4 weeks.

Anyways, so as the gay kid in Ohio who was beat up and made fun of constantly, Big Brother seemed like a dream come true. It was this house filled with all these hot fun people, AND THEY WERE LOCKED IN WITH YOU….FOR 3 FUCKING MONTHS! 

It just seemed like the ultimate way to make friends. You could be close to all these people, and you were never alone. The hot jock would have to get to know you because you were sharing a room. The pretty cheerleading type would become your friend because an alliance needed to be formed. The wise old woman who’s been through shit could give you advice all damn day because you’re sharing a house together.  It all just seemed so perfect! I was sure that the reason I was alone all the time was because nobody ever took the time to get to know me.  But, if they were locked in a house with me for three months they’d have to!  It would be like one big family at summer camp!

So anyhoo, I used to watch the show religiously. All the episodes.  They’d have the Sunday, and Tuesday, shows and the Thursday live eviction show.  I used to fantasize about being the house with them. Watching all these people share a bedroom, share a shower, share the hot tub, share everything.  For someone who was alone all the time, Big Brother was fuckin wet dream for me. I loved the idea of having people in my life…even if they did potentially want to vote me out of the house. I used to stay up in bed at night, fantasizing that I was a member in the house too; making friends, and living life to the fullest.  I used to love the hope and excitement I felt watching that show, feeling that some exciting adventure was just around the corner!

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But as I got older, the show lost it’s luster. I stopped thinking that every new person was a potential friend. My heart hardened. Walls were built to protect myself. I stopped watching the show.

 

But, something with this new season began to attract my attention. I started seeing news articles creep up about something incredible happening in the Big Brother House. This season of UKCBB (United Kingdom Celebrity Big Brother) was titled “Year of the women” because this year marks 100 years of women having the right to vote in the UK. The show was already leaning towards a discussion of gender, and threw in 2 extra dimensions into the storyline.

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The first was India, The UK’s first trans woman to be a part of a news team.

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And the second was Shane J / Courtney Act, a drag artist who was previously famous from Australian Idol back in the mid-2000’s (which Shane did in drag as Courtney and pioneered the way for others) and then more famously, Ru Paul’s Drag Race.

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And then to counteract all of this, they also brought in ultra-conservative politician and super crotchety old woman, Ann Widdecombe.

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So, sparks started to fly because India was just god-awful, and Ann was just an old dusty bitch.   But the entire house, and all of the UK began to fall in love with Courtney.  She had multiple conversations with everyone in the house about gender, sexuality, and performance. She was willing to talk to anyone about the differences between drag, and trans. The difference between gay and pansexual, and the difference between gender and biological sex.

She even took to debating Ann about some of the more conservative and Anti-gay policies she helped enact back during her time in parliament. But what made Courtney so amazing was her ability to always remain calm, collected, and willing to engage in any  conversation that may have come up.

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And everyone loved it.  She was the house favorite, and the entire nation fell in love with her for knowledge, self confidence, and beauty.  The UK as a whole even started a national conversation on gender because of what was going down on the show. She wasn’t just teaching the other housemates, but she was teaching an entire country, and thanks to the internet, the entire world!

 

So this is first part of where I started feeling myself wake up inside. There’s just something about Courtney Act that I need to be more like. I need to carry myself with her confidence. I need to walk into a room and actually feel like I belong.  Somehow, even though Courtney Act tends to look like a slutty drag queen Barbie, she ends up being the shining light in every situation she’s in.  I need to have the self love and respect that she has.

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Furthermore, during the season, Courtney Act managed to school everyone on gender and sexuality.  She not only carries herself well, but she is phenomenal in conversations. She took what could have been some very difficult and controversial moments, and spoke to housemates about them as if it were just the most natural thing to her. I need to be better at communicating with others.  

Check out Courtney given’ the boys a lesson on Drag and Trans:

 

 

So yeah, I’m a guy, and I have never done drag, but damn, there’s so much to learn from Courtney Act.

 

 

Secondly, there was a bit of a show romance happing in the show as well! There’s an insanely cute guy on the show named Andrew Brady (He was on the UK Apprentice or whatever…)

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So get this…. from the very first second Courtney Act walks into the Big Brother house, he’s in love with her.

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And from there… a Bromance/Romance began!

They started getting really close, and Andrew was constantly flirting with Courtney Act.

Throughout the show the “friendship” grew and grew…..

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And then, as time went on, Andrew started like Shane, even out of drag… for a gay boy like me, it was like magic was happening.  A hot straight guy was getting along with a man who, out of drag, was an effeminate guy, and in drag was….well, a drag queen.  It was so amazing to see Andrew form this friendship and not care about labels or what other people may think.  He was just himself, and Courtney was just herself…and they connected.  It was amazing and heartwarming to watch.

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Oh my God…. they even had tub time one night!  It was fuckin’ amazing!  So yeah…that fifteen year old inside me who used to watch Big Brother hoping to find an amazingly close friendship… well, he felt super pleased watching this season.  I get those butterflies in my stomach again watching this season, just like I used to when I was a teenager. I find myself laying up in bed at night again, imaging myself in the house….Imagining some handsome straight guy was becoming my friend, and was having tub time with me too! I get this rush watching this season… a rush I haven’t felt in such a long time.  The rush of youthful excitement and passion and hope for some great adventure.  And ya know, I’ve missed that feeling…and I’m glad it’s back!

 

And You know what, everyone noticed that she was a shining light as well… because she won!

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Watch the win here:

 

But look, I think we can all be winners here.  I think we can all learn a lot about being your true self and letting yourself shine, even if your true self is something that the common man might find odd or different.  Courtney went into that house and literally changed people’s minds about the LGBTQ community and that is fucking amazing!   Let’s all try to be beautiful, engaging, and inspiring people! 

 

~ The Dark Horse