January 1, 2018 — Brooklyn, NY
Headed out in the direction of…I don’t even know. By then it was 1:00 and my train home wasn’t until 7:30 so I had plenty of time on my hands. Knowing K— was East Williamsburg/Bushwick-y, I didn’t want to stray too far. I also am completely unfamiliar with Brooklyn. So I mapped my bearings and walked up Wilson Avenue in the general direction of Williamsburg. Figuring I’d find a cafe along the way to caffeinate, shit, etcetera. The power of being familiar enough with a city to know where you can go to just, like, sit down should never be underestimated.
Got a bodega coffee. Kept walking. And walking. And walking. Really had no idea what I was expecting and I was so cold. Like, I just wandered the aisles of Rite Aid at one point cause I truly could not stand it anymore. Went into this beautiful supermarket, again just looking for an opportunity to be warm and, like, get an apple to eat. Still no response from K—. I round a corner in the produce department and hear, “Brian?!”
Who on planet earth, I wonder to myself, turning around to see a writer from my Boston.com days. The biggest city in the country and still the smallest world. She asked me what I was doing there to which I said, “Good question.” I then told her the truth of keeping warm and waiting to hear back from “a friend” which I’m sure she correctly interpreted. Cause she asked if this would end up in “one of your amazing blog pieces” to which I said something along the lines of, “The day’s still young!”
January 12, 2018 — Brookline, MA
Shannon and I met up on Friday night to see Call Me By Your Name—Shan’s first time, my second. The Coolidge was playing it in that smallest screening room. We were in the front row and just across the aisle (in that tiny ass room—which can’t be stressed enough) was this older woman with white spiked Sister Carolyn Caveny hair. I’d seen her down in the lobby earlier, just about straddling the concession stand, asking the guys at the box office for a headset. I had no idea they even offered such a thing. At that point, I also had no way of knowing I’d be sharing a theater with her. But life has a cunning way of finding your weakest spots, or whatever.
So, she takes her seat and is flagrantly scrolling through Facebook. And then the previews begin and she’s still scrolling. And then the MOVIE begins and this cretin is STILL scrolling. And not only that but there’s an audible feed of something emitting itself from her person. Which I at first chock up to her headset but it doesn’t match with the audio of the movie which has, again, very much so begun. By the grace of God, the woman sitting beside her helped her out…but that was enough for them to establish a bond sick enough in nature to start chatting at a volume just shy of, like, walking down the street levels. I swear to God. Mind you, Shannon and I were maybe three feet away from them but my Shut The Fuck Up neck craning was going entirely unnoticed. Entirely. Like there was no registry in her peripheral vision that I even existed. And this kept going on for every bit of the first hour of the movie. How one person can be so annoying in so many different ways, I have no idea. Knowing the money shots were approaching, I leaned forward and shrieked, “Can you stop talking?” The young woman sitting next to her said, simply, “Yes” but the old woman? Did not even notice.
February 25, 2018 — Brooklyn, NY
He was wearing a headband that actually proved really cute. We chatted about this and that. Maya Rudolph and Minnie Riperton, specifically. I shared my half-substantiated understanding that “Lovin’ You” was written about Maya. Though we both sang, and in almost perfect unison, the “And every time that we…ooooh” line which, one would hope, proves that theory wrong.
I showered. Ripped the handle to the water control clean off the wall. Fortunately, I was able to stick it right back on. Can you imagine? One of his roommates had that same Jason-with-an-umlaut brand of body wash that I’ve been using but mango-scented instead of my orange. There’s something so vomit-y about the smell of mango.
We walked in the pouring rain to the market near his place. All kosher. The very store that Ivanka and Jared used to order their groceries from, apparently. Got bagels and fixings. It was $30 total but only because he also bought grapes and hummus for himself while we were there. He paid and told me to Venmo him “just, like, $5.” I gave him $10. But I should have just given him $15. Not cute, Brian.
April 4, 2018 — Cambridge, MA
I joined classmates for dinner after improv this week. And for the first time. We went to Life Alive. In other words: $14 for alfalfa sprouts and a quarter-cup of quinoa. It was Mary (the older nurse who I’ve gotten the closest with), Doug (who shared this story about writing a poem for his kids while driving to New York in this really tender, self-effacing way that made me want to literally SHOUT “Awww!”), Arthur, and Ian. We all chatted, swapping histories and when I said I had no background in performing, everyone was so surprised. Doug and Ian both talking about my “presence” and how “confidently” I carry myself. I’m usually quick to swat that sort of thing away but I don’t know. I do feel most myself when I’m just kind of existing in space. Walking down the street, sitting on a bench waiting for the bus. It’s all very comfortable.
Toward the end of dinner, Ian was asking me questions about my job and if I ever dog sat. He and his wife would be traveling soon and asked if I could take care of their Border Collie the weekend of the 12th. I already knew I’d be with a different dog that weekend but I didn’t want to immediately say no to an offer. He asked if I had a card and I almost laughed in his face. We swapped emails and he sent me this the following day:
It was nice to hang out with you after class yesterday. Never in a million years would I have guessed you did not have acting experience.
My wife and I would like to find out more about your dog sitting rates.
April 21, 2018 — Brookline, MA
It was nearing midnight and Cory said the plan was to go to Club Cafe but I was wearing inches-thick consignment shop jeans and in no mood to pay for cover when we’d be there for a whopping hour and fifteen minutes. And so, in gentler terms, I let them get geared up before saying I wouldn’t be joining. And not at all in a “Well, shucks” kind of way. But Max very promptly said we wouldn’t go. Which wasn’t at all what I was trying to get at. But Rachel seemed content with this change in plans so I didn’t feel too guilty. She proposed going to Golden Temple. I was unfamiliar but unopposed. Especially considering it was right in Washington Square, a 10 minute walk away.
The place was massive with a “lounge” area that was, like, Atlantic City-levels ornate. Which is to say: tacky. Like Epcot’s version of a New Jersey McMansion. In Egypt. Huge vaulted ceilings, gold accents, the strangest variety of music. And all out-of-towners? This was a destination. And God knows why. Also worthy of note: I’d taken several hits off somebody’s vape and got higher than I think I realized.
Had to get our IDs checked by TWO separate bouncers to get in. And the energy in there was just so…bizarre. Maybe we stuck out, I don’t know. Didn’t help when we bumped against the arm of a woman eating chicken wings at the bar. They’re laughing about it and she looks at them and is kind of laughing too before very gruffly saying, “Nothing’s funny.” Eeeeeek. I was so uncomfortable. Then BadaBing Bulger—this mafioso-looking 60-something with slicked-back hair and a murdery face—comes over to the woman. My high ass is convinced she’s telling him all about it, an inkling that becomes all the more certain when he looks directly at us. I’m positive we’re moments away from getting our asses dumped in the Charles. Was fully feeling that particular kind of “What the fuuuuck?” sensation that I always get when I’m high and out in public. Full-on dread.
We went out to the dancefloor but I was too self-aware to have much fun. After sitting down, Cory and I witnessed a Patrick Bateman-type swallow some pill retrieved from his pant pocket with the bottle of water he’d purchased at the bar. Rolling at the Golden Temple. Woof.
I joined them back to their place but only to use the bathroom before walking home. Didn’t listen to music because I already felt like enough of a target. An awareness of my surroundings that resulted in me—while walking down Gordon Street—hearing what I swear was, “Help! HELP!” I swear to God. Coming right from the house that I have a direct view of from my bedroom window. With it’s almost perpetually dark interiors and those old men who occasionally sit out in the backyard, drinking beer and smoking weed at 11 in the morning. Needless to say, I did not have the acuity or agency to investigate what I just heard—let alone call the cops. I worried the guilt would keep me up that night. I fell right asleep.
May 17, 2018 — Boston, MA
Jillian was flying into Logan on Thursday night and I was able, in the literal eleventh hour, to get that Friday off from work so I made my way out to the airport so Lindsay could pick us up in one fell swoop. Thought I’d be responsible and take the T the whole way there. Ended up transferring from the 57 to the Green Line at Kenmore at the precise moment that a Red Sox game got out. Fuck me. Got a core exercise maintaining my balance and holding my breath during the intermittent stops before transferring at Government Center.
Some guy on the Blue Line got my attention and very eagerly complimented my t-shirt—I was wearing my black Keith Haring one. And, what with how rare train chats between strangers in Boston can be, I engaged. I never know how loud to be when talking to a stranger on public transportation. You’re usually not that close in proximity to each other so it’s impossible to whisper but obnoxious to yell. Told him I got it from Uniqlo which he’d never heard of before. We disengaged. Was tickled by how sweet this very straight boy was being about my shirt. And then, not 30 seconds later, he’s looking at his phone screen and barks for all to hear, “This fuckin’ cunt.”
June 4, 2018 — Laconia, NH
Went to a gym class at 151 that entirely kicked my ass. Truly felt like I’d barf about halfway through. Mom’s friend Amy taught it and she hooted-and-hollered upon my arrival to the studio. At one point, Amy comes over to me and the Jennifer Jason Leigh-ish woman working out to my left. She said what I thought was “Do you know whose song this is?” I realized I’d misheard her when she followed up with, “Kris Burns’s son!”
“Oh, hi, I’m Caressa,” said that woman to my left, waving her carved-from-marble triceps. “I do your mom’s eyelashes.”
June 9, 2018 — Chicago, IL
Off to Lakeview for a housewarming of one of Keely’s friends. Just about everyone was there already. Keely’s roommates, who I’d met last summer, were among the only familiar faces for me. Another friend of theirs arrived a little later, who I’d also already met but she didn’t remember me.
“You look like that actor,” she said, upon our re-introduction. “You look just like that actor. Gahhhsh! I can’t remember his name. Hey! Who does he look like? That actor! With the huge hair!”
Joined a card game going on in the kitchen. One of the girls playing was named Dawn. She was fascinating in an anthropological kind of way. She was just so willfully ordinary, enough to be, like, mesmerizing because of it. She explained how, in Michigan, people pronounce her name as DAUN but, in Illinois, people pronounce it as DAHN.
“What was the name of that website that would post those videos of college kids super fucked up at house parties?” asked Dawn at one point.
Somebody at the table offered “Barstool!” but that wasn’t it. Every bit of a half hour later, apropos of absolutely nothing, Dawn squeals, “I’mSchmacked! It was I’MSCHMACKED!”
July 1, 2018 — Chicago, IL
Saw Michael and Cameron again on Sunday evening. At Parrot’s, this “garden level” bar. Pool tables and darts inside. Friends playing on mute on a mounted television in the corner. They’d been on the beach today too—the Hollywood Avenue one which is literally right on the other side of the lighthouse from where I always go. It’s the gay beach, apparently. Which makes sense. I always found it so odd how the streets of Edgewater are literally brimming over with fags but that they’re nowhere to be found once I get to the beach. Poetic, really.
Eventually joined by a whole group of other people. A mustachioed boy from New Hampshire who, in response to my sharing that I’d grown up there as well as in New Jersey, said, “You escaped twice!” He had a thigh tattoo that read DEATH BY DAIRY. Meanwhile, the girl sitting across from him worked at an ice cream shop. Ha ha ha. He lived in Portland at one point and was gonna move to Jalisco but ended up in Chicago. He’s an accountant by day and an illustrator for Cartoon Network by night. “I walk dogs,” I said.
Grace, a Twitter ~mutual~, showed up and gave me an excuse to excuse myself from The Vegan. She’s so handsome. A human painting. Later chatted with this girl named Erin. She reminded me of someone I used to work with at The Verb. That same exact minimally-affected, dirty-haired deadpan. We bonded over Paula Cole. Dixie Chicks were brought up yet again, a sign from the universe that perhaps I should delve into their discography. Much like Gilmore Girls though, I’ve always avoided exploring them because I know how much I’d love them. Too much.
August 10, 2018 — Boston, MA
Empire Garden is as dystopian as ever. What goes on at that place that allows them to afford such a cavernous location when there’s only ever, like, 12 total diners there is beyond me. We noticed a “9/11 Always Remember” poster up on the balcony that was tacked to the wall upside down. I was sitting in between Sam and Fitz. Ordered a Mai Tai and it showed up looking so cloudy. Talk eventually turned to “The Glass Slipper.” I’d never heard of it but connected the dots when I-Can’t-Remember-Who asked me, “You ever been to a titty bar, Brian?”
I had a decent amount of cash on me but the way everyone was talking about it on the walk over made me think I’d need like $400. “I’m GAY,” I wanted to scream. Fully ready to propose not spending as much money as my own Homosexual Reparations. Though, honestly, I was kind of eager for the experience. Considering I had, indeed, never been to a “titty bar” and could very well spend the remainder of my life without another opportunity.
The club’s located somewhere in that no man’s land where Government Center meets the Financial District meets Chinatown. Plop me anywhere around there and ask me to get somewhere specific and I’d truly have no clue. I never have anything remotely approaching my bearings. And for good reason—as we walked past group after group of “Boston’s” finest 21-to-45-year-olds looking as rosacea-riddled as ever.
Inside, I was shocked to find a totally divey atmosphere that wasn’t at all the guido-dabbling-in-meth feel that I was expecting. A single dance floor, situated behind the bar, with this panopticon of half-circle booths set against the walls, all of them facing The Pole. Dorchester Debbys were tending bar—not a single one of them under 55 hard-lived-years of age. I wanted them to love me. All in all, a lot less bleak than I was anticipating. And not a single dancer looked dead behind in the eyes in ways I naively—prudishly!—figured.
Joined Martin and Fitz into one booth as Shawn, Brian, and Cam went into another while Sam went back and forth between the two. Dancer after dancer approached our booths, introducing themselves. Asking our names, where we’re from, etcetera. Very friendly but in a transactional “…so!” kind of way. Obviously. Our waitress, however, was no nonsense. A tough cookie. But she warmed up after we ordered. And tipped.
“You’ve got such a look,” she said to me, after delivering our second round. “Real ‘70s. With the hair. And the short-shorts. And the mustache.”
“Aww,” I effeminated. “Thank you!”
Serious as cancer, she said, “You should do porn.”
“I need an agent,” I shouted as she walked away.
October 1, 2018 — Meredith, NH
Figured I should get my flu shot and, obviously not having anywhere else to be, I drove to mom’s store instead of Gilford. She had joked that morning how she can spot the flu shotters a mile—or, I should say, aisle—away cause they all have the same orphanic, lost-in-the-woods look to them. So, naturally, as soon as I’m rounding the corner toward the pharmacy department and mom spots me from behind the counter, I put said expression on my face.
It was fun to see her being a person out in the world. After filling out the paperwork, I was standing off to the side as she was waiting on a customer, an older guy who wasn’t as prepared with his prescription information as Kristine obviously would have preferred. She moved closer to me, toward a different computer, and blatantly rolled her eyes in my direction. I was in eyeline of this guy and less comfortable with confrontation than my mother so I didn’t react as much as I wanted to in the moment. But it was the funniest thing. I was kind of shit-grinning the whole time. Not even sure why. It was just a treat to see her being so efficient. So smart on the job. Dressed so nicely. Without particularly stiff competition in that store but still. I wanted to poke the shoulder of the stranger standing next to me and say, “That’s my MOM!”
October 4, 2018 — New York, NY
Was walking down Lexington Avenue and passed by Kristin, of Real Housewives of New York fame, who was standing outside a store, seemingly facilitating some sort of an event. So, naturally, I had this dumbfounded, paying-attention, ignorant-of-onlookers look on my face. Which Austin got to see as our first introduction. But I feel like that’s special. Rare, even. To see people we know as just individuals existing out in the world, unaware they’re moments away from being seen by someone they know. I hope whatever resting face I make is an attractive one.
We hit it off immediately, perhaps even better than expected. He’s a talker. But in a collaborative way. He punctuates every two or three minutes of chat with a question. Considerate! And much like Stephanie V—, he is TAN-GEN-TIAL. A big “Oh my god, how did we get here? No…no, that’s not it…no…YES…thank you, so…!” It’s fun. Stimulating.
Gabbing, he mentioned how at work that day he’d made a reservation for Arianna Huffington. Which was funny cause one of my Facebook memories (lol) that day marked the anniversary of that “Hub Talk” event at Faneuil Hall that I covered for BDC. The panel with Arianna and Yo Yo Ma and that writer from Veep and a few others I can’t remember. It was a picture of them all up on the stage with a quote of Ari’s from that night that went, “The best lover of my life was twice my age and half my size.” I didn’t manage to bring this coincidence up when Austin first mentioned her cause he’s too quick a turn-of-phrase. But a little later, while we were still walking over to the theater, there was a tiny enough lapse in conversation for me to share said memory. At which point, Austin, almost casually, points ahead of us and says, “And there she goes.”
At that exact moment, just as I thought to share the memory after all, crossing the sidewalk not twenty feet ahead of us, is Arianna fucking Huffington. Only in New York, kids, only in New York!
October 19, 2018 — Philadelphia, PA
Upon seeing how perfect Dom’s looked, I asked if he wouldn’t mind tying my tie for me. He obliged and, as expected, it looked perfect. Nevertheless, it’s a skill I should probably have learned by now. Sarah and Ruthie were total visions. The former in this gorgeous chartreuse-ish dress with the earrings Ruthie had been wearing the night before. And the latter in this silky, pleated, ‘20s-looking dress with a good-messy tendril-y up-do. Sarah wore hers down. The three of us each boasting a distinct head of center-parted hair. I felt so powerful when we were all standing near each other.
The venue wasn’t far and we embarked on our walk over at like 3:30. All of us so giddy. For the majority of us, it was our first “friend’s wedding” and I don’t know if that was the cause of it but, regardless, it was just such a fun little trek. All of us laughing and floating back and forth between different people in the group and throwing Neutrogena looks over our shoulders at jokes being told in our wake. Ruthie, Sarah, and Dom all had their cameras on them and were taking pictures. It was just very sweet. All of us so hopped up with this anticipatory energy, anticipating…love. I mean, gag, but yeah. Anticipating our friend, this person who we all love, standing up in front of all of his loved ones to make this commitment to someone he loves. Love! Sentimentality that was only kind of marred when we arrived and I suddenly remembered that I’d totally forgot to bring the 24-pack of water Cam had specifically asked me to bring. Oops.
October 26, 2018 — Brooklyn, NY
Came home to find four unfamiliar faces in the living room. “Hi, I live here,” I introduce myself. It’s funny. To play that part. The Blessing and Occasional Curse of Being The Subletter: it ain’t my problem. I don’t mind it. The party was originally planned to take place exclusively on the roof of our building but, naturally, it started raining. So there was a mass influx of partygoers into the kitchen and living room—everyone, save two people, were definitively not in costume. One being this guy dressed as Van Gogh with “bloody” gauze wrapped around his head. The other being me.
Sarah and Naz were out there so it wasn’t just a throng of strangers but, at the same time, I didn’t want them to feel like they had to tend to me, socially. Not that they would, necessarily. But still. I surreptitiously mixed a drink and took it to my room, listening from the other side of the door as things got gradually rowdier, figuring I’d go back out once Austin arrived. I’d joked earlier that night with Richard that a party of recently graduated NYU Tisch-ys would inevitably result in a room full of harmonizing queens. And I shit thee not, barely five minutes after I’d sought refuge in my room, I hear a group of three or four guys ‘n’ dolls in the living room singing, and only half-jokingly, in harmony.
November 24-25, 2018 — Brooklyn, NY
He suggested Rebecca’s which is that hip kid breeding ground on the corner of Jefferson. The one that’s all ferny and bisexually lit on the inside. Always an assortment of Bushwick’s Bushwickiest loitering out front in their massive clothes and massive posturing and massive ennui. It was pretty quiet in there when we first arrived. Between the pouring rain and it still being Thanksgiving weekend, that made sense.
Minutes away from midnight, he asks what I’d do if he got everyone within earshot to join in on singing me happy birthday. But there was no need for me to feign mortification cause, from across the bar, a rousing rendition of, “Happy biiiirthday to yoou/happy birthday to yoooooooou” began. What do you know? Of all the bars in all the neighborhoods of New York, NY, there’s someone else celebrating my very same day of birth. And, from what my now-25-year-old vision could deduce, it was a fellow faggot no less.
“Hey!” I mock-outraged from my seat in our vinyl booth.
November 30, 2018 — Waltham, MA
And back into the hallway I was placed. The camera was positioned deep in the ballroom so the hallway was–I have to imagine—only barely visible in the shot. And, even then, I got moved to the depths of the adjoining foyer where I’d be prompted by a PA to move into the hall once cameras were rolling.
Admittedly though, my starting point was a fun place to be. Precisely because it was completely out of shot, I was surrounded by various members of the crew just kind of doing their things. Which allowed me to hear, between shots, murmurs on their walkie talkies of “Alright, let’s get T— to set…yep, T—’s traveling…uh huh, T—’s on his way…he’s on set…T— has arrived.” And, lo and behold, T— had, indeed, arrived. The front door to the house was directly behind me which opened to the little foyer in which I, and I alone in that moment, stood. I look up as a presence walks beside me, rounding the corner directly in front of me, and—for two seconds that lasted a lifetime—his face and my face were probably about seven inches away from each other.
And exactly then, the AD yells from the ballroom, “ROLLING!”
Almost offering my lap as a place for him to sit, he stopped dead in his tracks, his eyes bugging out in response to this unexpected call for action. He quickly side-stepped into a different room. All of this taking place over the course of maybe five total seconds, giving me just enough time to finally get a waft of how he smelled. And what do you fucking know? It was THAT SMELL. That fragrance I’ve been smelling EVERYWHERE. Or everywhere in New York, at least. On—exclusively—the hippest and hottest and most tragically wealthy. It’s this piney, musky, super fresh, essential oily scent. Men and women both wear it. But, again, beautiful ones. And every time I smell it on the street, I just about slip a disc whirling my body toward the direction of its source. I’ve mentioned this phenomenon to Wilder who has some ideas as to who makes it but, honestly, I don’t want to know. The mystery of it so much more appealing to me than just knowing its name.
December 8, 2018 — Brooklyn, NY
Was more tired than hungover. But also—hungover. Despite having given some of my heaviest sweaters to mom to bring home to New Hampshire when I saw her for Thanksgiving, I still ended up carrying a heavier burden of belongings leaving New York than arriving to it. My duffel, a backpack, my messenger bag, and—the most cumbersome of them all—an Ikea tote. Cause that made sense. To travel with, essentially, a wide open bag that had no capability of zippering shut. Had every bit of 100 total pounds of stuff. I barely own anything and yet I was carting around the equivalency of a 12-year-old. Kyra was in the kitchen and I didn’t even say goodbye. I didn’t say goodbye to any of my roommates. Oh well.
Took three trips just to get all my bags out into the hall. A subway ride to Penn Station with all this shit would have truly broken me as a person so I ordered a car. He traveled along Flushing Avenue. So many Hasidic men were out walking, looking cold but prepared for it. Wearing their shtreimels. Looking so ancient. So all-knowing and yet so silly. The driver took the Brooklyn Bridge and it was such a beautiful day and it was my first time ever crossing it. If I’d only zapped away just a little less serotonin the night prior, I might’ve gotten sentimental about it.
Not long after we got into Manhattan, I started noticing an odd amount of dressed-up 20somethings walking down the street. A couple people wearing Santa hats in the month of December, that’s one thing. But packs of weak-chinned costumed elves roving the streets of Midtown at 9:34 am on a Saturday is another. My fears were confirmed as soon as I took my first fateful steps down unto the depths of Penn Station.
“Oh my god,” I said to myself, my muscles atrophying under the weight of my three dozen bags. “It’s SantaCon.”
December 11, 2018 — Gilford, NH
I tweeted, “Why be nostalgic when you can just regress?” today. I really mean that.