Tag Archives: travel

I’m Getting Paid to go to Mexico!

mex

So, major, major things are happening! 

I moved to NYC recently to start interning, and since moving here, everything is just booming! One of my internships is at a travel magazine. In February I started blogging for them, which turned into writing articles for the website, and I helped edit the last issue, which means my name got printed in the magazine’s Masthead…That’s right, my name…..IN PRINTIN A MAGAZINE! (Can I officially start referring to myself as writer now?  Have I “made it” ? )

And now, I’m working on my first feature article to get published in the print magazine, AND I just found out I’m taking what’s called a press trip to Mexico.

I never knew what a press trip was.

I never knew how much money could be spent by companies. It’s literally mind-boggling.  As someone who has spent my entire life bored out of my mind working in restaurants and retail, working 9 hour days only to have a 30 minute break, just to make 8 dollars an hour…. It’s seriously fucking crazy. Our magazine is sent gifts ALL THE TIME by places and companies wanting us to write about them.

And a press trip is where a tourism company, hotel, or airline, PAYS REPORTERS TO TRAVEL THERE in exchange for having an article written about it.

mex1

So….

I get to travel.

AND GET PAID. 

Is this even real life?

 

People around the world, listen to me. Hard work actually does pay off. I spent so many years thinking I’d be bored and miserable forever. Thinking I wasn’t good enough for a job I loved. Thinking I wasn’t smart enough to make my dreams come true.

I didn’t start grad school until I was 27. I won’t walk and receive my diploma from Harvard until I’m 30.

And up until I got back in school, my life was a raging shitshow (as any of you will know if you’ve been reading my blog before then)

I was a late bloomer. Depression, loneliness, anxiety, self-doubt, and self-hatred controlled my life since I was 10 years old.

…since my life went to hell.

mex4

But you know what, I didn’t give up.  And if any of you out there feel like you’re the outcast, or feel hated, or even if you hate yourself – It can get better. 

Hope is real. And hope can get you through.

And I know it’s hard. I fully understand that believing in yourself, when all you hear your entire life is how shitty you are, is basically fucking impossible. It takes so much strength. So much hardship. So much perseverance.

But it’s so worth it.

You deserve happiness. You deserve success. You deserve it all.

 

So the next time some bitch comes along and tries to put you down, rock some hardcore Miranda Priestly realness…

mex5

 

And remember…

mex7

You’re better than them.  You always were.

 

Travel on my friends,

The Dark Horse

 

(This was written out of passion, not logic! So, no, this wasn’t proofread)

Advertisements

Dispatches From The Far North

nwt

 

Have I ever mentioned that after college I ran away into the woods?

 

LA had worn me down and beaten me to the ground. I was so depressed I could barely stand up most of the time. And then that’s when I discovered American Transcendentalism, and the ideals of running away and escaping capitalist society.

I took Thoreau for his word and ran away.  And now that I’m older and read Thoreau more clearly, I’m pretty fuckin annoyed… because he never actually ran away. He lived on a lake only a few miles from town. He literally would walk home and eat with his family and shit… what a twat.

I on the other hand, during my period of total infatuation with his ideas, really did run away into the middle of nowhere. Where there were no roads. No phones. No sewage systems…

I went to the Northwest Territories, a little north of the Great Slave Lake.

There, I lived in a “cabin” which was really just a plywood box that was covered in arctic tarp. Recently, I found the pictures I took of inside my cabin.

Whenever I’m feeling down, writing and art has always saved me. And so, being up there was no different.  Armed with nothing but sidewalk chalk (why was there sidewalk chalk? I have no idea…) Anyways, armed with sidewalk chalk and bare plywood walls, I got to work.

Here are a few of my derelict masterpieces:

 

cabin1

Here, with CHERRY BOOM, I needed color, and I need fun. I went for a retro-Pac Man thing because it was exciting.  It was something that made me feel like I wasn’t completely lost from society. A memento that there was a world full of video games, ice tea, and mattresses that I could return to at some point.

 

 

cabin2

This was my manifesto to the world. I wrote this, and then read this to myself every night before going to sleep. It was a way for me to tell myself that I’m not done. I went to the woods to find myself, but the woods wouldn’t be my final resting place.

 

 

cabin3

My absolute favorite.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written these words in my journal, or said this under my breath as I’m about to take on a challenging day. The albatross has always been my spirit animal. They’re so large, so misunderstood, and so solitary, that it’s hard to imagine how they survive. But, against the odds, and against the elements, these birds flourish, even though they can spend months over the open ocean without ever even seeing land. They’re stronger than you’d ever believe. And so, I look to the albatross, flying high, for inspiration.

 

Eye to the sky!

 

~ The Dark Horse

Can The City You Live In Impact Your Mental Health?

city

 

The short answer (In my opinion) is yes. And in multiple ways. Let me explain:

 

For starters, if you’re living in a city where you don’t fit in, then right off the bat, you will have problems.  For example, I’m from Ohio.

ohio

I am gay, very liberal, loves travel, and have always wanted to do something in the arts and in media, and have always wanted to somehow impact the world in a big way.

Ohio is a lot of blue collar people who don’t have passports (and who rarely even leave the state), they’re mostly republicans who fear the outside world, and life consists of going to work to make money to start a family and go to church to pray to God to let you go to heaven because you’ve spent your entire life only half-lived, because you’ve been suck in the social norms that your too afraid to ever step away from.

Ohio also has a very bad crime problem, and is part of the opiod epidemic, along with having a bad meth problem as well, but that’s a whole other story… 

ANYWAYS, the point is, someone like me just doesn’t fit in there. It just wasn’t ever going to work. My life in Ohio would always have been un-lived because there isn’t anything there for me.

And the same can be true for the other side of the spectrum as well.  If you’re a Protestant who thinks homosexuality is a sin, and loves Trump and wants him to build the wall, and you genuinely fear and hate people of a different skin color from you…  you’re probably going to have a horrible miserable life in cities line New York, LA, or San Fransisco.

And as much as I’m terrified by the idea of some Protestant with so much hate and fear inside them, part of the trick is just finding where they fit.  Just like I needed to find where I fit.

 

But there’s also more factors:  

For example, Los Angeles, is car-centered city.  When you walk out to a road, it looks like this:

ohio1

 

You don’t see many people out walking the streets. For America’s second largest city, you sometimes wonder if you’re in a suburb somewhere.

And don’t get me wrong. There are some very beautiful, fun, and lively parts of LA. Sunset Strip, WeHo, Santa Monica, Venice.  You’ll find busy areas.

ohio3

But if you ever live there, you’ll soon realize that this is a very small percentage of LA. Most of LA, on the street level, is a barren wasteland.

ohio4

And I used to find that emptiness absolutely crushing. I used to walk around, trying to shake off my depressive episodes by being in public, hoping to gain some energy from the outside world.  And I’d wander around and be like… Holy crap, do people actually live in this city?  So, if you’re like me and find yourself lonely a lot… find yourself in desperate need of some good company… try major cities like New York, Chicago, or even San Fransisco, where the streets will be full of pedestrians, mass transit is packed, and everything seems more alive.

ohio6

 

 

But perhaps you’re not like me. Maybe you’re not a guy in his 20’s. Maybe you’re a middle-aged woman who wants a garden. Or you’re parents who don’t want to raise their children in Manhattan (which, does have it’s problems for kids… the other day I watched a couple of 15 yr olds buy drugs…. it was insanely depressing.)

Then a big hustling city might cause you stress. Whereas it’s great for me, it might make you miserable. Then you gotta go and find where you belong!

 

ohio7

Maybe you need a place like Burlington, VT? A good school system, some large corporations, but also the quaint, small, safety of a little New England City?  We all need different things.  And we all need to be where we feel comfortable and happy. Because that is the first step to good mental health. 

 

Speaking of good mental health… perhaps you’re like me and you need sunshine.  Avoid Places like Chicago and Boston, which sit at the easterly end of their time zones, and the sun sets early. Word of advice from someone who has lived in both of these cities. In the winter, it will be completely dark before you’re out of work. You will spend a few months in eternal darkness.

ohio8

 

But time zones are the only thing to worry about. Locations like Portland and Seattle are covered by clouds most of the year. And how far North you are will also have a huge impact on sunshine….So, you can rule out Alaska.

 

Obviously, there are huge factors that make a lot of this not possible. For example, if you’re a surgeon, you probably couldn’t go live in Manning, North Dakota. No matter how desperately you want to live in a rural village, close to the great outdoors… you just won’t find employment there.

ohio9

Or if you have kids who are in school. Or if you have sick parents that need caring for. Or allergies, or skin conditions, and the list goes on and on.

 

Being able to move is a luxury that I have because I’m young, and have no spouse, or children. I understand that. And I understand that not everyone can go and try and find where they fit. But still, where you live has a huge impact on your mental health. So, if you’re in a position where it’s possible (and Im not just talking about fear… don’t ever let fear be the thing keeping you stuck where you are.)  A dying parent, sure. Then you have a srepbsobilty to someone and are needed. And you’re stuck. sadly.

But don’t hide behind excuses either.  Yes, moving away may put you further from your family, and from what’s familiar. But don’t ever let fearing the unknown keep you somewhere. Don’t hide behind the excuses of “Oh but what if one day my parents happen to get sick…” or “How will my friend group go on without me…” That’s just you hiding behind excuses because you’re afraid. If you’re truly unhappy somewhere, and you have the ability to take the leap… then honey, you gotta’ go full-blown Thelma and Louise and just gun it!

 

ohio10

 

~ The Dark Horse

Was this proofread?  I’ll say this. It wasn’t not proofread. But it also wasn’t “proofread” per-se. Does that make any sense?

 

New York, I Have Arrived!

nyc

 

Somehow. Someway….

It happened.

I’ve finally arrived.

I’m in the land of Joan Didion, Robert De Nero, and Anna Wintour.

And It’s so insanely exciting and cool and terrifying and thrilling and wonderful and stressful.

I mean, people, listen to me, I am currently writing in a cafe in Manhattan, surrounded by brownstones with iron fire escapes, and the sounds of honking and all the rest of those very New Yorkish things.

nyc1

 

And obviously that sensory overload is good and bad. Sensory overload can lead to anxiety. And I’ll be honest, I’m getting a tad of it.

It seems like too much has gone right. I mean, who lands a good job in New York, finds an amazing apartment at a great price in a wonderful neighborhood, has good roommates, and…. is actually happy?

Does anyone else out there feel like happiness is one of those things that other people get, but the we don’t?

It’s like I’m waiting for the floor to drop at any moment.

Like, maybe this job will fall through. Or the owner of the apartment will sell, and I’ll have to move….or worse, what if I can’t find a place afterwards? And then I have to leave because the stress has caused me to have a mental breakdown and lose my job? It seems like I’m so used to pain and misery that I no longer have the ability to even believe that a good life exists.

It seems that whenever something good starts to happen, a hurricane alarm goes off deep within me. Some old sailor starts screaming, “Batten down the hatches!” I start to brace for the bad to begin again.

perfectstorm

AND YOU KNOW WHAT?

THAT FUCKING SUCKS AND IS UNFAIR.

 

And you know what else? I’m really fucking over it. Done. (Or for all you eighteen-year-olds out there, I’m #done).

 

It isn’t fair that I have to live a life convinced that I don’t deserve good things. Or think that I’ll never be happy.

Fuck that. 

And Fuck all the people out there who have conditioned me to be this way. 

Fuck all the kids from my grade school who called me faggot.

Fuck all the kids in high school who spat on me, and who told me they’d beat me up if they ever saw me in the bathroom.

Fuck the teachers who stood and did nothing.

But double fuck the teachers who made comments themselves. I’m looking at you freshman year health teacher who told me I’ll die of AIDS simply for being gay.

And also to my old German teacher who was openly homophobic. 

Not to mention EVERY SINGLE religion teacher I ever had, who told me I would go to hell. 

Fuck my old boss at Aeropostale who made fun of me for having depression and anxiety. Im sorry that you’re a grown 37-year-old woman who’s life has amounted to working in a bumfuck mall in a cornfield in Ohio selling cheap clothing to little girls that fall apart after a month. 

Fuck everyone in Ohio who discouraged me from dreaming big. Who told me the world would eat me alive. Who told me I’d never be good enough. Who told me I was stupid. Who told me I was ugly. 

FUCK ALL OF YOU. 

CUZ GUESS WHAT MOTHERFUCKERS, 

I live in Manhattan now. And I just got a job in television. And I’m finishing up my Master’s where I’m putting together a book full of my essays. 

So, here’s my cock. suck it.

nyc2

Werk.

 

I’m ready to embrace a life of meaning. A life where maybe I can even help change other people’s lives. A life where I’m happy and fulfilled. And I’m done even remembering what a bunch of boondock Ohioans tried telling me about life.

~ The Dark Horse

 

 

The Night I Thought I Was Going To Die

final

 

So, over the weekend I flew back to Boston from Ohio.  I was scheduled to fly home on a Boeing 737, which looks like this:

737

 

I booked this flight back in August because a roundtrip home was like, $170 so I had to jump on it. Back in October, Delta changed our take-off time.

Then they did the same in November.

And twice in December…

And when I arrived at the airport on Saturday, I also found out that they switched our plane to a Boeing 717, which looks like this…

717

 

I honestly think I’ve only been on a plane this small maybe once in my life, years and years ago…

The engines are literally attached to the sides of the plane!!!!!! Dear Lord Help Me! 

 

Then as we board, the captain comes on the intercom and is like,

“The weather here is pretty good, but when we arrive in Boston there’s heavy downpours and wind, so it’s gonna get pretty bumpy at the end…”

Kill. Me. Now.

On small planes, you feel everything. You feel every time the plane speeds up and slows down, every time it goes up and down, every time you make a turn.  It’s basically driving a Mini Cooper at 400mph, 30,000 feet above the ground.

Luckily, everything was fine for most of the flight, but then as we hit central Massachusetts, the sun had set and the storm began.  The seatbelt lights went on.

We descended into the clouds and then stayed there for a good half hour, why? WHO THE FUCK KNOWS.

When you looked out the window, it looked like we were in a tornado. The lights on the wing illuminated the sky directly around the plane, and all you could see was raging rain flying all around. Remember that scene in the Wizard of Oz where Dorothy looks out the window in the tornado? it was just like that.

7172

 

You could feel the G force. When the plane pushed up, you sunk into your seat. Then as the plane fell rapidly, you could feel the moments of airtime. You could also watch the nose of the plane going left, then right, then down and left and up and left and down and right, and on and on and on….

 

7173

I was having a massive airplane teddybear Twilight Zone episode moment. Has anyone ever seen that episode? With William Shatner and the airplane teddy bear that destroys the plane? You should watch it right before a flight…

 

But then the scariest thought of all came to mind:

THE LANDING. 

The temperature in Boston was hovering slightly above freezing, with torrential rain and wind, and I’m in a flying Fiat. And to sweeten the deal….

screen shot 2019-01-07 at 11.28.56 am

This is Boston Logan airport. All runways dead-end straight into the ocean. yay! 

 

We began to descend into the potentially iced-over runway.

All you could see was rain rushing by the window, blanketed by a misty blackness.

Then suddenly, out of nowhere, we were beneath the clouds, and literally almost already on top of the runway.

We touched town, but then bounced up.

We actually bounced! 

Then landed again.

We began stopping so fast that I was being thrust forward in my seat.

You could feel the plane swerving left and right.

I thought to myself:

Ok. Im in the aisle seat. So if there’s a Southwest woman sucked from the window event…I’m probably safe.

I’m not at the back of the plane… so if there’s a Qantas engine blows up event, I’m not near the engine.

I’m also not at the front of the plane… so if we have a Jet Blue our front wheel explodes and the landing gear catches on fire, I’m also probably not gonna die…

but then…

All I could think was “Asiana airlines cartwheeling at SFO”

7175

There’s no way my little flying tricycle could ever withstand that. The plane would break apart instantly.

 

But luckily, we landed safely.

I guess I didn’t almost die.  But still, the drama was there, people, let me tell you

it was thereeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!

 

~ The Dark Horse

(And no the wasn’t proofread. This was written out of trauma! Trauma I say!)

drama

What Is It That We Want?

face

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.

LA1

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.

mel1

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