Every Fall Out Boy Song Ranked

Hello, I’m MJ. I’m an emo kid, have been for close to a decade now.

This article started as a joke, after a friend of mine Jhariah posted this on Twitter (go follow him he’s an incredible musician and artist):And while I respect Jhariah’s opinion, I had different feelings. Once I went to put all of Fall Out Boy’s official 111 songs, I realized something: Fall Out Boy’s early song titles are so fucking long and convoluted that I wouldn’t even be able to rank them all without relistening to them… all.

So after two days, I’ve come to my finalized list. This was an incredibly difficult journey, considering I only genuinely dislike maybe 7 songs out of Fall Out Boy’s discography. In all honesty, 20-60 are just more arbitrary because I fucking love Fall Out Boy so damn much and this intense re-listening reacquainted me with my love for them. My ranking is based on personal relation/nostalgia, what I would listen to over the song below it, and pure genius in lyricism or the music. Let’s go.

My Top 10 Fall Out Boy Songs:

#1: Disloyal Order Of Water Buffaloes from Folie à Deux

This is objectively the best Fall Out Boy song, by a mile. It begins the best album of theirs, also by far, and entered the stage of pure genius anarchy before their temporary break up. This album in general is lyrically fucking amazing, with my favorite from this song being “So boycott love, detox just to retox / And I’d promise you anything for another shot at life … / Nobody wants to hear you sing about tragedy”. For me, I listened to this album a while before I heard the album. This album and the songs are very special to me, and I think it’s still an enjoyable piece of work even if you don’t dive further into it.

#2: Stay Frosty Royal Milk Tea from MANIA

You can shit on me all you want, but the new age Fall Out Boy albums are incredibly overlooked. I think the band has done an incredible job of keeping their sound while also pushing themselves slightly in different directions to slowly and seamlessly evolve. In my head, FOB’s discography is split into pre and post-breakup, MANIA being the most recent release in 2018. This song is fucking incredible. This is also the opener song of the album, and it should be. The drums and bassline in the beginning open up the album and song HEAVILY, with bits of guitar throughout that make my ears perk up. Lyrically, this song is the perfect pump up song. “I’m ’bout to go Tonya Harding on the whole world’s knee” and “The only thing that’s ever stopping me is me, hey!” are the standouts in my mind.

#3 (Coffee’s For Closers) from Folie à Deux

This song ranks so high for 2 reasons: the strings and the nostalgia. I cannot hear the line “I will never believe in anything again / Change will come, oh change will come” without sobbing. Objectively not a greatly poetic line, but the way it is sung, along with my personal ties to the song make it very impactful. The bass and vocal quality with the background strings make for a headphone experience like no other. As a song about worldly success, with a shockingly optimistic view (for how early on FOB this was), it speaks volumes to me.

#4 The Phoenix from Save Rock and Roll

Although this album was the first album of theirs that got me into Fall Out Boy, this album only had one top tenner, and that’s purely because I am just such a slut for Folie à Deux. The drums and the intensity of this song say it all. This is another opening song, as it should be. I think this is just proving they set the tone for their albums super well. This was also the first song back from hiatus (not the first single but-). They quite literally rose from the ashes, and it’s a fantastic come back song. Favorite lyrics include: “We are the jack-o-lanterns in July”; “I’m going to change you like a remix / Then I’ll raise you like a phoenix” and the extended “Hey” Patrick Stump sings at 3:10.

#5 20 Dollar Nose Bleed from Folie à Deux

… I love this fucking album okay? Opening line: “Have you ever wanted to disappear?” Like yes bitch I have. This song also features my second favorite vocalist of all time, Brendon Urie from Panic! At The Disco. The whole song is actually much deeper than I ever knew; it’s about Benzos and the politics of the 90s. For me, it was always a song about being sick and refusing to get help. This song also ends with like a 30 second spoken word poem by the bassist/lyricist Pete Wentz that I and every other emo lets live in their head rent free.

#6 Novocaine from American Beauty/American Psycho

Also loved this album, but surprisingly this is the only one that makes the top ten off of it. This is a killer song. Fall Out Boy has this incredible ability to add this heavy grungy sound in the back of their songs without making them all sound the same, and this song is no different. A lot of my top tens are just a: go listen. You’ll know what I mean when you hear it. “I’m just a problem that doesn’t want to be solved”, and “I will always land on you like a sucker punch / I am your worst nightmare”.

#7 What A Catch, Donnie from Folie à Deux

Last one I promise okay?? This had to make the top ten, because it quite literally includes all the other songs that should’ve made the top ten. It starts off slow, includes lyrics like: “I got troubled thoughts and the self-esteem to match / What a catch”; “They say the captain goes down with the ship / So when the world ends, will God go down with it?” The ending of this song is fucking iconic. It includes choruses of all of their hits, including “Grand Theft Autumn / Where Is Your Boy Tonight?”, “Sugar We’re Goin Down”, “Dance, Dance”, “This Ain’t A Scene, It’s A God Damn Arms Race”, “Thnks fr th Mmrs”, and “Growing Up”, sung by Gabe Saporta, Travie McCoy, Brendon Urie, Doug Neumann, Alex DeLeon, and William Beckett, respectively. God tier. 

#8 This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arms Race from Infinity on High

Speaking of older songs, this is the second oldest song on the list oops. To disclaim I fucking loveeeeeeeeeee their first 3 albums, but I have a bigger attachment and just a little more love for the latter 4. That being said, this song is a banger and has remained one for almost a decade. The song is quite literally Pete Wentz making a commentary on how the emo scene is a war of popularity. The guitar riffs and again- just the heavy beats make it an intense song to listen to. Favorite lyrics include: “I am an arms dealer fitting you with / Weapons in the form of words / And don’t really care which side wins / Long as the room keeps singing, that’s just the business I’m in”.

#9 Sophomore Slump Or Comeback Of The Year from From Under The Cork Tree

Introducing the oldest song on the list- from one of their most iconic albums, and I’m including neither of the two most iconic songs. No offense to “Dance, Dance” and “Sugar We’re Goin Down”, they are fantastic songs, but the overuse of them kills them for me. This song is super meta- it’s a song about how making a sophomore record is hard to do after a successful debut. (Like shut up okay?) but the #1 reason this ranks so high is because it’s a bop, Pete Wentz screams in it, and this lyric: “The best part of “believe” is the “lie”.”

#10 Alpha Dog from Welcome to the New Administration Mixtape

This is a wrench to throw in at #10, I know. I didn’t know where tf this song came from until like ten minutes ago, truthfully, because I had heard it on Youtube and then their Greatest Hits CD. “Alpha Dog” comes from a mixtape released in 2009, and it’s killer and I’m so upset it’s not more widely known. The lyrics to the whole thing are punny and pointed, just like most of Fall Out Boy’s lyrics are (this is mainly why I love them so much). Truly, something I love about Fall Out Boy is that I don’t know what most of their songs mean to them, but I know what they mean to me. They are the most poetic band I know lyrically, with a greatly contrasting sound. Alpha Dog includes lyrics like “You’re not the first or the last / But you’re possibly the prettiest, whoa / He’s a fighter past his prime / He’s in the gutter waving his hand “I’m just fine””. The intro is sick and the whole song is about a Jekyll and Hyde juxtaposition- and I love it.

Honorary mentions / I wish “Top Ten” meant “Top Twenty” + my favorite lyrics from them:

(My top ten were essentially the best songs, and the next ten are my guilty pleasures)

#11 Miss Missing You from Save Rock and Roll: “Sometimes before it gets better, the darkness gets bigger / The person that you’d take a bullet for is behind the trigger”

#12 Favorite Record from American Beauty/American Psycho: “You were the song stuck in my head / Every song that I’ve ever loved / Play it again and again and again / And you can get what you want but it’s never enough / And I spin for you like your favorite records used to”

#13 Headfirst Slide Into Cooperstown On A Bad Bet from Folie à Deux: “I don’t just want to be a footnote / In someone else’s happiness / Does your husband know the way that / The sunshine gleams from your wedding band?”

#14 Sunshine Riptide from MANIA: “I don’t even have my own attention / You say, “Please don’t ever change,” but you / Don’t like me the way I am, the sign says “Don’t you tap the Glass,” but I read it in reverse: “eht pat uoy t’nod syas ngis ehT””

#15 My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up) from Save Rock and Roll: “A constellation of tears on your lashes / Burn everything you love then burn the ashes / In the end everything collides, my childhood / Spat back out the monster that you see”

#16 The Kids Aren’t Alright from American Beauty/American Psycho: “I’ll be yours / When it rains it pours / Stay thirsty like before”

#17 The Last Of The Real Ones from MANIA: “Write our names in the wet concrete / I wonder if your therapist knows / Everything about me”

#18 Chicago Is so Two Years Ago from Take This To Your Grave: “You want apologies, girl, you might hold your breath / Until your breathing stops forever, forever”

#19 Thnks fr th Mmrs from Infinity on High: “Been looking forward to the future / But my eyesight is going bad / And this crystal ball / It’s always cloudy except for / When you look into the past”

#20 America’s Suitehearts from Folie à Deux: “I must confess / I’m in love with my own sins”

To save you the time, if you want to see my full list here is the link.

The Bottom 5: 

#107 American Made, #108 Demigods, #109 We Were Doomed From The Start (The King Is Dead), #110 Art Of Keeping Up Disappearances, #111 Eternal Summer, all from PAX AM Days

PAX•AM Days was released directly after Save Rock and Roll, included as a deluxe version of the album actually. It’s an incredibly grungy and hardcore punk compilation of 7 songs, and I hate 5 out of the 7 of them. Just not my cup of tea. I’m almost glad they exist so I didn’t have to put any songs I actually liked in the last slots. 

So there you have it: My humble but final opinion on the Ranking of all 111 Fall Out Boy songs. If you have any difference of opinion- kindly keep it to yourself. Be on the lookout for more of these… perhaps for the other two bands of the emo trinity… 😉

Check out my two playlists below, if you’d like to listen to all of FOB in order or in my ranking order.


What is calendar blocking- and why do i do it?

Hello fellow humans; it’s your favorite Earth sign coming at you with some great organization tactics.

For the vast majority of my life, I believed I was an unorganized person because sometimes my room gets a little messy and I don’t make my bed every morning. For 18 years, my very organized mother and the public school system really kept me on track, as every event or task had a start and end time, for the most part. When I entered my first year of college, I was thrown for a huge whirlwind, having lost a consistent school schedule and the main person who kept track of my life. After floundering for a year, and adjusting poorly to life on my own, I decided something needed to change. I entered sophomore year of college with an 18 credit schedule, as a new resident advisor, in a new relationship, and after one day of training for the school year I thought- “I’ve gotta get my shit together”.

I’ve been using Google Calendar since August of 2017 to generally keep track of my daily going-ons. In college this mainly consisted of classes and meetings, working in tandem with the most ridiculous amount of to-do lists crowding my notes app or sketchbooks. 

(Look at all that open time to just… vaguely “Get work done??)

After graduating college and formally entering the workforce, I started feeling ridiculously lost on a day to day basis with the way I was still attempting to handle my scheduling. I would also often forget things I had scheduled but not entered into my calendar, and no one likes to miss or have to reschedule something they promised they’d do.

(Seriously what is that? I was unemployed but still-)

That was until I found a concept called Calendar Blocking. By happenstance, a video popped up on my feed by a YouTuber named Amy Landino, about how she uses Google Calendar in a very different way than I had been doing for years.


What is Calendar Blocking? Let’s start there. Calendar Blocking is a method of scheduling where you plot out your calendar with all of your major, necessary events, thus making time for smaller things you never knew you had the time to do. It’s an amazing tactic for time optimization, because personally, something I’ve often said is “I just really don’t have time to relax”. With all your larger tasks already laid out in front of you, it is so much easier to see the extra time you didn’t know you had in a day.

[I will disclaim that I am a decently busy person, and I put this upon myself. I work a full time 40 hour a week job, (which pre-COVID I was making a daily 4 hour commute into the city for my job), while also working 4 other part-time/freelance jobs, hosting a weekly podcast, being part of a monthly book club, going to an average 1-2 concerts a week, working out, sleeping 4-6 hours every night and going on random dates/keeping up a pretty decent social life. I am very well aware of what a psycho I must look like, but if this can work for me, it can definitely work for you.]

To start my Calendar Blocking journey, I utilized the “My calendars” tool on the left most side of your Google Calendar. (I would highly suggest starting your GCal journey on a laptop for clarity’s sake.) Didn’t know you could create different calendars for yourself within GCal? Me neither! I wrote down a list of the most major things I consistently do and would need separated/categorized. For me, that was Work, Travel, Routines, Workouts, Friends, Family, Concerts, Dates, Personal, and “General Get Stuff Done”. That sounds like a lot, but stay with me. When you separate out these calendars, you can label them, and make them different colors. For more visual people such as myself, once my week is plotted out, I can look at a calendar and know just how much work, personal etc. tasks I plan on doing that week. (The colors are also personal to what I think deserves each color and it makes it look pretty). You can also turn off certain calendars if you only want to see, say, what your work schedule looks like for the week.

Once I had my calendars set up, it was time to get to work in putting in my daily/weekly schedule. Knowing I had my full time job from 9:30am-5:30pm every weekday was a fantastic start. I scheduled in my “Work” calendar a weekday repeating event labeled “Work at [My company]. From there, I wonder, how long does it take me to get to work? After looking up train times, I schedule a “Travel” event for my trains to work and home every day, plus the drives to and from the train station. With 12 hours of my day already plotted, looking at the next 12 hours was easy. 8 to sleep, 2 to eat, 1.5 for getting ready and daily hygiene, all in “Routines”. You heard me, I schedule my showers. Sometimes you don’t remember you need to make time for things like that! 

The basics

Okay, so I know looking at this makes some folks want to vomit, and trust me, I understand. This is not for the faint of heart. For me, this brings the Earth sign in me extreme peace. Why? Because now I know where I’m supposed to be for all those hours and at what time. And what you don’t see in this screenshot is the open hours from 7pm-midnight everyday. I personally would maximize my time by doing all of the freelance work or book club reading I could on my daily 4 hour commute. This leaves time for all the other things I want to do.

Now that we have the concrete, immovable tasks/events in place, we can move on to the things we want to do! When someone asks “when are you free?”, it is clear as day that according to this schedule right now, that I am free, say Wednesday night for dinner with an old college friend, and Friday night to watch The Mandalorian with my dad? Of course!

Now that I’ve scheduled both the “have to’s”, and the “for funs”, all things to do with other people, I consider myself. Things I need to do or would like to do, that only concern me, or can be moved. Something that scares people a lot about calendar blocking is the seemingly inflexibility of this form of scheduling. Bear in mind that this is just a “block”. It’s just an estimated amount of time in which you promise yourself you’re going to do something. It’s important to keep your goals realistic, and also make a promise to yourself not to beat yourself up when you have to extend a task by an hour or so. That is perfectly okay, it’s Google Calendar, it’s not set in stone.

And voila! We’ve got a week planned! Personally I like to normally fill each day, even if I just put up a personal block for “dicking around on my phone” or “talking to my mom on the porch”, because it’s so important to schedule some downtime in your busy schedule. Calendar Blocking for me is part organization, part time maximization- and in the least captialistic way possible. I have a really hard time conceptualizing in my head how long something will take to do, or what my week looks like if I don’t have it right in front of me. Having those big open white spaces after I’ve scheduled all of my necessary tasks for the week brings me peace and freedom to plan for time to relax and do things specifically for myself, which I’ve never prioritized in my life before now.

I personally am a person who needs structure but malleability in that structure. Seeing the things I “must” do allows me to be able to do the things I “want” freely and without worry. I think this way of scheduling your life is super beneficial for people who love the in-betweens, like yours truly. The number one reason I love Google Calendar as the vehicle for this kind of scheduling is that it is available across any device you have internet, your phone, your iPad, your laptop, so you can access it anywhere to look at or alter. The last helpful thing I do is have a reminder set on all events to notify me 10 minutes before an event is happening. This is very helpful for those of us who have an “out of sight out of mind” tendencies, because the calendar will literally tell you you have things to do or places to be. 

Now, during COVID, ironically enough I have the most time I’ve had in a while to get things done, especially working out, because I don’t have to give up 4 hours a day on a train. That’s why when everyone was freaking out about staying busy inside and adjusting, I just looked at my GCal was like, oh we’ve got this babe.

If you’d like more information on Calendar Blocking, I would highly recommend watching the video by Amy, linked above. While this article is basically a pitch as to why you should Calendar Block, she does an incredible job walking you through actually using Google Calendar. I’m eternally grateful I found this way of scheduling, and I hope this provided you some insight on how to potentially better organize your days. I think at this point in my life I can formally say, I am an organized person. Happy scheduling folks!

Half a Year in Isolation

A reflection by MJ Sullivan

Something I’ve noticed since the pandemic is that I’m literally never alone, ironically

It’s never quiet

There’s people and a felt presence always in my house

So much so that I stay where no one can go unless they ask for permission

I cloud my head with music or choppy digital voices or movies

So much so that I feel like I don’t have my own brain anymore

I even go to sleep every night and wake up listening to the same playlist, just for peace of mind

In between two songs last night, during the 2 seconds of silence I get every 3 minutes, I heard the crickets. I paused my music, hearing them in surround sound

I believe silence has a noise. It’s a slight hum in your ears, that for me when left too long turns into a ringing

During isolation, everything is right in front of me. Music in my ears, phone in my face, bed on my body

I miss the distance. I miss the more than 20 feet in front of me. I miss the tall skyscrapers or the open road or large mountains. I miss physically bumping into people on the streets, I miss sweaty white men’s armpits in my face at a concert, I miss being sardined with every type of person in a small metal tube under the biggest city in this shitty country

Everything now is so pointed. It’s all or it’s nothing. It’s hanging out with my family, or being completely by myself in my room. It’s seeing all my friends over zoom, and as soon as it’s over the room fills with absence until I feel like I’m drowning in it. I’m a sucker for a spectrum, or a grey area, and I miss it more than I can say

The idle musing of a nearby couple at my favorite coffee shop, where my nose fills with different flavors of bean water and my ears with the sound of the clacking of my own keyboard. The blaring shreds of a guitar and ripping vocals at the DIY show my band plays, followed by a soft “thank you for coming” by our sincere and soft spoken frontperson. The conversation you strike up with a person at the shitty college bar, the feeling of your lips on theirs with no consequence, the taste of their gin and tonic

I miss anonymity. I miss being a face in a crowd your eyes might glaze over instead of being forced upon you as pixels shown through blue light into your eyes. I miss the inbetween. There’s just so much this, and so much that, that I just crave thit or thas

It’s a small thing to consider, but I was wondering why everything seemed so overwhelming when in reality “little” is happening. But I’M happening. All the time. Too much. The outside world gave me an escape from me. I learned healthy coping mechanisms for when “me” was too much. They mostly relied on the world around me, hanging with a friend, driving my car, sitting in a coffee shop, seeing a live show, skipping around a target. Things that were once leisure are now essential, or obsolete. Things that were inconsequential now have massive consequences

When you have depression, or other mental health issues, they tell you to move, or go outside. Ironically, the pandemic has been both so much more easy, and so much more difficult for people who are regularly sad. On one hand, staying inside for days on end for me is incredibly easy, as I do it often and generally unpromptedly. So glad I could be a hero for just giving in to my own destructive tendencies

On the other hand, staying put goes exactly against everything I’ve worked for and been taught. How can something supposed to protect me be so evil in return?

I haven’t broken down in 6 months about the current state of the world, and I think that’s mostly because I’m numb. The ringing in my ears is deafening now, as the crickets have stopped and my toilet has finished its flush. I don’t know what to do or where to go from here, but I guess, no one else does either, right?


2 Years Ago I Shaved My Head

2 Years ago I shaved my head. Yes, 2 years ago. It’s unbelievable to me.

I lived the first 21 years of my life sporting chest length hair (with the exception of the side shave I shaved myself in January 2017). I had always loved my long hair, and still do (hence the reason I’m growing it out). While in my early 20s, visions of shaving my head started to twirl through my thoughts, and I finally decided on July 31st, 2018 that if there was going to be a time to do it, it was now. I was starting my senior year of college, meaning  by the time I needed to start looking for jobs I wouldn’t be completely bald, and I needed a change. I had only bleached my hair twice in my life, but I will say that after many years of dying my hair over its natural color and sun/heat exposure, it wasn’t looking the hottest it could. I decided on August 1st, 2018 to shave my head. It has been a crazy 2 years since then, and I thought I would take you and I on a photo journey of my 730 day hair growth.

July 31st 2018

Last day with an (almost full head of hair). I was genuinely scared shitless. I have never had shorter hair than shoulder length when I was 10. But, I figured, if I never take the leap now, I never will, or I’ll forever be left wondering “What if I had?”

August 1st 2018

And boy am I glad I did it. Wow. Look at them. Are you kidding? Any nervousness I had dissipated the second the first strand hit the floor. (No going back now right?) During the first full shave month, I can definitely say I turned some heads, and I felt amazing. Physically, daily life is a lot easier when you don’t have hair. Emotionally, I felt a little exposed at first, but after a while I grew to absolutely love how I looked.

September 1st 2018

I was feeling SUPER cute this month. I actually think this is one of my favorite months. I definitely wasn’t completely bald anymore, but I was at a cute length that I still didn’t have to style. I experimented with my gender presentation, and hats, and generally had a good time. When your hair is super short, it’s really easy to see the growth basically happen right before your eyes.

October 1st, 2018

October and 1 whole inch of hair brought the fun of being able to spike my hair in the front. I was still fairly happy at this stage, definitely struggled with the fact that when I had long hair I felt a lot more comfy dressing more androgynously, and I for sure over “feminized” myself for the first 2 months. This month I think I started to let go of the qualms I had in my head about this a little more..

November 1st, 2018

November was when I realized.. Oh… having no hair makes your head cold. I still felt pretty cute this month, introducing hair products like waxes and pomades to control the longer back and spike the front at the advice of my brother.

December 1st, 2018

I will be 100% honest here: I felt so fucking ugly this month. When all of your hair is like a little shorter than 2 inches off your head, it creates a very awkward style of “too long in the back and sides, but not long enough on the top.” It was depressing me in ways I cannot express. My general rules for this journey were: don’t cut your hair, and don’t dye or bleach it.


January 1st 2019

I – uh – did not abide by those rules, for good reason. I decided that I was going to keep the back and sides trimmed for my comfort, but the rule for no major chops still stood. I hated this haircut at first- it was my first time ever going to a barbershop and I was so intimidated that I didn’t say much, but after a week of it growing in and growing on me I fell in love with how I looked.

February 1st 2019

I *claps* felt *claps* so *claps* goddamn *claps* cute *claps* in *claps* February. Sigh. This is like the hair length I would keep if I actually liked having short hair. So cute, so easy to manage, huge fan of this shorter undercut, 3 inches of hair lewk.

March 1st 2019

This is where we got to the point where every other month was a new challenge/awkward phase to rediscover how to do my hair. At this point, the hair on top was a little too long to manage with pomades, but couldn’t just be left alone. It was a struggle.

April 1st 2019

And just like that, a month and .66 inches of hair later, I felt so much better. So strange. I reshaved my undercut (the third haircut since I shaved it), and my hair was long enough to swoop back. I loved this look.

May 1st 2019

Annnnnnd we’re back to ugly. This is the last blunt undercut I did, right before graduation, and I definitely shouldn’t have because it did create a bit of a problem for growing out to a bob later. Again, the top hair was a bit too long to manage, but we got through it.

June 1st 2019

Okay I’ll be honest, this is literally the best hair day I had in June. I started relying heavily on the dreaded straightener to give me any semblance of sanity. My hair is naturally curly, and that was just not working at this phase with just a clump of unruly curls on top and no hair from my mid head down.

July 1st, 2019

I was IN LOVE with this month. My undercut was growing out, the top was really just doing some good things, and I think the two just worked really well together. I was super uncomfy with my body at this point of my life, unrelated to my hair, so every time that my hair would hit an awkward point it would just make it so much worse, so I’m glad July blessed me with this look.

August 1st, 2019

And with that, year 1 was over! This was another awkward month, still heavily relying on the straightener to keep me sane, but I couldn’t believe how far I had come. Looking at this a year later I cannot imagine being at this length anymore. In one year, the hair I did not cut reached a little over 8 inches.

September 1st, 2019

So in September, I started playing around with putting up parts of it, because I was again having to grow out the sides and back and the fact that it all wouldn’t just do or go one place was… infuriating to say the least. 

October 1st, 2019

This picture was taken on the day where I remember thinking “I think I can wear my hair curly and down from now on”… and I was kinda right. At the time I was like “I have a bob” and in hindsight I’m like “okay pal”. 

November 1st, 2019

Enter the next awkward phase- I truthfully had no idea what I would wake up to everyday of this month. I mostly stuck to straightening the top and gelling back the sides as best as I could, but I also would let it just do whatever. My biggest issues for a while (and still honestly) is that my sideburns are just simultaneously too short to be put up but too long to keep down.

December 1st, 2019

Rejoiced in an even longer “bob”- felt like Rapzunel from Tangled after she gets her hair chopped off. Big fan at the time, wouldn’t do it again. I will disclaim- I loved having super short hair, and super long hair, it’s honestly August 2019-March 2020 lengths that deter me from ever shaving my head again.

January 1st, 2020

January looks the same as December because the straightening of my hair really does extend the length by a good inch or so. I was definitely starting to get more comfy with my hair here. It got to a point where I could just kind of wake up and let it do whatever and that’s all I ever want tbh.

February 1st, 2020

February marks the 5th and final (to date) haircut during my 2 year grow out journey! I was starting to get increasingly annoyed with the difference in length, so I got the back evened out with the front (which has still never been cut). In case any one is wondering why this is the case- all of your hair grows at the same pace but it just looks longer on certain parts of your head. Like, the hair framing my face took the longest to grow because it needs extra length to fall over my face and not just hang straight down like it does in the back and on the sides. I was very happy this month.

March 1st, 2020

We are really starting to get somewhere! To be honest, once we reached March, the only growth was just down because all of my hair is even, so the growth was a bit less visible, but the next goal in sight became finally getting all of my hair into a full ponytail. I was a fan of this month, I started to feel more and more of myself.

April 1st, 2020

I attempted to stray further and further from using any heat on my hair because part of the reason I shaved it to began with was to grow nice and healthy hair. Seeing my curls, now with a bit of weight, was really satisfying. Ponytails/just trying to put up my hair during these months was annoying admittedly.

May 1st, 2020

Speaking of putting my hair up, I wanted to show that I mostly could by May. With the help of bobby pins and hairspray, I would rock a pony/updo for most of May. During quarantine is a great time to go through some awkward phases with a hair grow out, I will say.

June 1st, 2020

In June, this became one of my favorite hairstyles, along with using a bandana as a headband, because my biggest gripe was not being able to put up my hair to just get it out of my face. I grew tired of having to make ponytails a full day look like in May, and wanted alternatives to be able to just throw my hair up or out of my face if I wanted, and these were good solutions.

July 1st, 2020

I really started falling in love with my hair again. I’ve never had any of these hair lengths in my teenaged or adult life, but we’re getting to a point now where it’s the closest I’ve been to “long hair” in 2 years. My hair is long enough that when I move my head it brushes my shoulders, and I never thought I would rejoice that much at something so simple.

August 1st, 2020

So, that brings us to today. Wow. I told myself I couldn’t severely cut or dye my hair for the first 2 years of this journey, so on my 2 year anniversary, I used Overtone to color it purple. I cannot believe how long its grown and how crazy this journey has been. It was full of ups and downs, but I’m so glad I made the decision to do it. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but I definitely am excited to be getting back to where I feel most like myself

On to year 3!!.

Pride 2020 Makeup Looks

June is Pride Month. I have been fortunate enough to have openly out, safely and proudly for almost a decade now. Normally, at this time in the year I would be gearing up to swap out my perpetually dark and alternative outfits for a more colorful ensemble to hit the streets for the New York City Annual Pride Parade. Pride month as well as Pride parades are chances to freely express all your gay self as loudly and flamboyantly as you’d like to. 

This year, Pride parades everywhere were cancelled for the global pandemic, as they should have been. When my workplace decided that last week would be a Pride spirit week, my coworkers and I rejoiced. Although it was entirely digital, it warmed my heart to see photos of my coworkers, gay, straight and everything in between, decked out in a different rainbow color each day. I did my own spin, because I genuinely only own 5 colored shirts max, so I decided to do a different makeup look everyday for the last 9 days of Pride month. Here they are!

Day 1: Red- Life

For day one, I went with a bold sparkly red eye look, paired with an equally bold red lip. Red represents life, which is why my “Vagina is not a dirty word” shirt comes perfectly in handy for this look. Finished off with a red bandana for a little Rosie the Riveter vibes and voilà!

Day 2: Orange- Healing

For day two, I decided on a very graphic and experimental orange winged eyeliner, outlined in black. Orange meaning healing, I wanted to represent the tough journey that healing can be with some sharp edges and guarded wings. This is my least favorite color but one of my favorite looks in this series. Paired with a muted shiny copper lipstick, an orange bandana and sheer polka dotted top, I think this risky combo was pulled off in the end.

Day 3: Yellow- Sunlight

For day three, I chose to focus on a more golden palette, doing a graphic doubled-back eyeliner on a sparkly gold shadowed lid. I wanted the eyeliner to emulate the cycle the sun makes through the sky every day to give its light to us. I paired this look with some sun shaped gold earrings and a mustard colored striped turtleneck.

Day 4: Green- Nature

For day 4, I went with a very basic black winged eyeliner on my lid, and reflected it in green in a half circle above my lid. I wanted this to represent the balance in nature. I wore an off the shoulder olive green crop top and kept the rest of my face and jewelry clear for a more natural look.

Day 5: Blue- Harmony

For day 5, I completely switched it up and did my regular eye look, and a striking blue lip. For harmony, I wanted to create balance between the blue of my eyes and the blue of my lips. Dressed in a denim shirt, large hoops earrings and my hair twisted back, I felt like the perfect harmony of masculine and feminine in this fit.

Day 6: Purple- Spirit

For day 6, I went BOLD, because purple is my favorite color. In the spirit of drag culture, I did a large sparkly purple wing outlined in white and black eyeliner, with drawn on bottom eyelashes. I put on my beautiful purple velvet cold shoulder turtleneck shirt and tied my hair up in a bun.

Day 7: Black + Brown- Black and POC Queer People

For day 7, I wanted to focus on showcasing these two colors as boldly as I could, with a brown and black smokey eye with a black and metallic brown lip to match. This day was to recognize and celebrate the two incredibly necessary black and brown stripes added to the Philly Pride flag in 2017. Pride was a riot started by queer people of color and their representation on the LGBTQ+ pride flag is so very important.

Day 8: The Pansexual and Nonbinary Flag

For day 8, I wanted to represent my own identities. I went with a simple blended eyeshadow look, my left eye including the colors of the pansexual flag, on my right the colors of the nonbinary flag, and a winged eyeliner with accompanying dots. With a lot of color on the eyes, I kept the lips a light neutral pink, and the outfit a simple black tank because black is my favorite color.

Day 9: The 2020 Pride Flag

For day 9, I wanted to go all out and recreate the 2020 Pride Flag on my lid. Complete with 6 rainbow stripes, and a chevron including the black and brown stripes for black and POC queer people, and the white, blue and pink of the trans flag. Complemented with a dark berry lip and sparkles galore, I think this look perfectly wraps up my Pride looks for the year.

Although we could not do what we might normally do to celebrate pride this year, it is in our hearts every day. It was fun, even just for myself and a small part of the internet to celebrate in my quiet, personal way. All my love to the LGBTQ+ community and allies; Happy Pride Month, this month and every month.🌈

The Lesbian Tomboy Sidekick™

Ah…. the early 2000s tween television shows. Some of the more popular in my day (I’m 23, born in 1997 for your reference) being Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide, Hannah Montana, Wizards of Waverly Place, Lizzie McGuire, The Suite Life, and of course, iCarly. These shows captured our 10 year old hearts with seemingly random comedy, eccentric characters and interesting living environments. All of these shows have a very specific cast of characters that make them successful- a general perfect formula of 3 lead teen characters. This group of three was always led by an extroverted idea-sparking leader of the group, the generally intelligent but hopelessly socially awkward boy, and my personal favorite- the edgy tomboy girl sidekick. All together this creates a fantastic chemistry that forged the many amazingly successful trios of my childhood.

The one thing that always bothered 10 year old me though, is that nine times out of ten, two people of these groups almost always ended up dating at some point in the series. Ned and Moze, Lilly and Oliver, Justin and Harper, Lizzie and Gordo, Cody and Bailey, and… Freddie with both Carly and Sam (scandalous!). Even though I didn’t exactly know about the concept of human sexuality as a kid, it gnawed at the back of my head that there was something unnaturally fabricated about these pairings.

As I got older and wiser, something dawned on me. The edgy tomboy gay girl sidekicks were always that ones forced into these random relationships. Oh no- I said what I said, you read that right. In a world of YouTube highlight clips and Disney+ resurrecting my childhood favs, I’ve had time to reflect. There was absolutely no way these iconic sidekick characters were not even a little bit on the queer spectrum. Obviously, as “family friendly” shows, these characters could not be blatantly portrayed as such in the early 2000s, but come on. The character traits, personalities and aesthetics alone basically wrote in gay characters without saying they were gay. (I am very aware that just presenting stereotypically gay or acting a certain way does not make you a lesbian, what makes you a lesbian is liking women. Just go with me here).

Disclaimers: 1. I’m going to focus on 3 characters for this article because if I included all of them in one you’d be reading a novel honey. 2. These are all my personal opinions and these characters are just that- characters. Just my comedic interpretation, proceed. 🙂

MOZE from Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide

Let’s kick off with a classic- Moze from Ned’s Declassified. Starting off with simply her name- “Moze”’s real name is Jennifer Mosely. First, the fact that she goes by not only a nickname or her last name, but a nickname of her last name… suspicious. Second, I have never in my life met a Jennifer who was not gay (sorry to the “straight” Jennifers out there, your time will come). Being the perpetually taller of the group by a landslide, Moze expressed her incredible 2000s fashion sense à la LBH (long haired butch): long, straight, brown hair that she never did anything to and consistently androgynous outfits of jeans, t-shirts, headbands, and sweaters. She has an effortless talent for a variety of sports (volleyball, cross-country and cheerleading) and an undying passion for woodshop. She has a distinct hatred for a one Ms. Susie Crabgrass for seemingly no reason, (internalized homophobia rerouted into anger as not to admit feelings to herself or Susie), and crushes on men who are “too unattainable” i.e. Seth, the basketball jock, and Faymen, the foreign exchange student (unconscious ability to deny ever dating someone because of social differences). She eventually ends up dating Ned, her best friend of many years and inferior in every way imaginable, I believe out of comfort and convenience.

P.S., the next major role the actor who played Moze played was Paige McCullers in Pretty Little Liars, who is…. a closeted lesbian who expresses her feelings for her love interest by hating her instead… interesting. 

Post-Show Life Diagnosis: Jennifer Ann Mosely is an athletic LBH who realizes she is a lesbian midway through her college years, when a girl on her D-1 volleyball team makes a move on her. She stays closeted to her high school friends until she and that same girl send out invites to their hand-crafted rustic wedding in Napa Valley. You can bet that she did in fact build the archway her and her wife say their vows under in her fully equipped woodshop in their cottage outside San Francisco.

LILLY from Hannah Montana

She’s got the best of both worlds… or does she? Lilly Truscott of Hannah Montana is the quirky, funny, ultimate tomboy of the group. Growing up in California her entire life, she is an avid skateboarder, surfer, hockey player and cheerleader. For the vast majority of the seasons of Hannah Montana, Lilly solely wears polo shirts over long sleeved striped shirts, baggy cargo pants, and sneakers, with the addition of accessories like every hat in the world, random braids or streaks of color in her hair, and those fuzzy sports wristbands??? on the daily. She has an alter ego for when she goes out with Hannah known as Lola Luftnagle, who is the polar opposite to Lilly in personality and looks. Lola wears bright short wigs, generally very bright, girly outfits and obnoxious accessories. I believe Lola acts as a foil to show Lilly’s perception of who she thinks she should be. She constantly fights Miley’s advances to make her “girly” which would make her “more attractive to the boys,” which Lilly goes along with because of peer pressure. She does love fashion; her outfits transform as the series goes on and she is always attempting to raid Hannah’s closet.

She exudes a general confidence outwardly while feeling very insecure about her pitfalls in private with her best friend. This gives her an external swagger and an internal anxiousness. She does have quite a few crushes throughout the series, but never one that sticks. By the end of the series, she is dating her best childhood guy friend, Oliver. I believe it’s the same circumstance as it is with Moze, easing into a relationship because of a comfortability with a mediocre guy she has a few common interests with and has known for years without having to confront her true feelings. She also has a huge enemy in one Joanie Plumbo, whose head she shaves as the punishment for losing a bet in gym class. (Beginning to see a theme here?) 

Post-Show Life Diagnosis: Lilly Truscott is a classic in-the-closet tomboy lesbian who ends the series of Hannah Montana living in a dorm with her best friend Miley and eventually realizes she is ridiculously in love with her. She will keep it inside for decades, graduating college and end up marrying Oliver. She will have two kids with him before finally serendipitously reuniting with Joanie Plumbo in a bar at the age of 40, and after discovering her lost long love for her, she will ask Oliver for an open relationship. Eventually, she leaves Oliver for Joanie. She gains custody of the kids, as he is a huge stoner who has not been able to land a job in years, and she is a lesbian, and her and Joanie live a happy life together. 

 SAM from iCarly

And finally- iCarly. Oh boy I have wanted to talk about this for years. Ms. Sam Puckett is the most iconic non-lesbian lesbian I have ever had the pleasure of coming across in my entire life. From the most gender neutral first name to a last name that’s one letter away from sounding like an expletive, she is a legend. She constantly refuses feminine presenting stereotypes of “looking girly” and “acting dainty”. Although I didn’t identify with Sam’s general chaotic evil ways as a kid, I did find myself intrigued and inspired by her non-feminine characteristics. She’s superhumanly strong, always taking the opportunity to prove her physical strength and wrestling abilities. She takes absolutely no shit from anyone, especially men. Although, I will admit, more sardonic than sarcastic at times, her humor is whiplike and poignant, verging on the edge of as sexual as you can get in a “kid’s” show. She dresses exactly like Lilly Truscott minus the wristbands (were the Nickelodeon and Disney producers trying to tell us something via the wardrobe choices of the 2000s tween sitcom girls? Conspiracy theory). She has bangs which you can bet she cuts herself, she wears little to no makeup, her favorite activity in the world is consuming more food than humanly possible in one sitting. She consistently bags on her guy friends more than she ever does to Carly. She is eternally full of rage- again I believe from a crazy repressed case of internalized homophobia. Repressing who you are for that long takes its toll on your mood and behavior, leading me to believe there is some trauma there that she needs to unpack and might explain her tendency to act out.

The cherry on top is her relationship with Freddie. Her and her ultimate frenemy Freddie are more enemies than friends for the vast majority of the show. Sam is not shy about how much she cannot stand him, and how upset she is by how outwardly he adores Carly. A couple seasons in, she and Freddie share their mutual first kiss to “get it over with”. I watched this back recently because the video was on my YouTube recommended feed, and this is what rejuvenated my thoughts about Ms. Puckett in the first place. If you haven’t watched it, please, click this link right now.

Absolutely the cringiest thing I’ve ever rewatched. She never closes her eyes, never leans in, looks around and looks like she would rather be literally anywhere else in the world. I burst out laughing when I saw it again. Both of them looked understandably confused. Freddie just experienced his first moment of intimacy with someone who continually berates him, which blurs the lines of love and hate, and Sam has just figured out she is a lesbian. She continues on in the series to have a short flame of a relationship with Freddie, again I believe for the same reasons as Moze and Lilly. Familiarity, safety, confusion. In this case though, I do believe Freddie deserves better and Sam deserves a woman. 

Post-Show Life Diagnosis: Sam moves to L.A. after high school, like she does in Sam and Cat, the spinoff series of iCarly’s Sam and Victorious’s Cat, where she embraces her motorcycle lesbian aesthetic and starts going out on Tinder dates with every single queer person in L.A. After her hookup phase, she moves to Colorado on her hog to focus on her professional fighting career  and hobby of metalworking. She becomes the incredibly cool gay aunt to Carly and Freddie’s children, and ends up living in an all women’s comune where she meets her wife and her girlfriend. 

From an early age I was very drawn to these characters and I never quite understood why. They are very strong, not stereotypically “feminine” presenting female characters and I think as a tween I thought that was because I was like “Yay Go Women.” As an adult, I agree, but also I would like to add just a very hearty “Yay Women!!!” Although not the queer representation gay youth across the globe should have, these character do exhibit qualities that can be identified as queer characteristics, and for me, that was enough to kickstart my thought process in thinking that I didn’t have to “be like other the girls” to be cool or liked or to be accepted in society. Again, although I would love to see more openly queer representation specifically in kid’s media, 10 year old me very much so appreciated the presence of these ambiguously “not typical” female “tomboy” characters…. who were most definitely gay.

Always a non gay tomboy sidekick, never an out main character. Sigh. One day.

Stay tuned for Part 2 with Harper from Wizards of Waverly Place, Miranda from Lizzie McGuire, and Bailey, from The Suite Life on Deck.

I’m turning 23. But it really don’t feel like it

by MJ Sullivan

At this time in the world, this does not feel like the time for the celebration of the 23rd time I’ve revolved around the sun. I was originally looking forward to finally having a birthday I could celebrate: not amidst finals, school, or personal crisis (The universe had other plans). On top of the state of the world, I also personally don’t feel like I’m ready to or should be allowed to be turning 23. In my mind, at 23 you should have things a little bit more settled than I feel I do. However, with the help of some loved ones, I’ve started realizing that I don’t have to have to have it “all figured out” right now, and that I might have accomplished more than I can see or feel. In light of this, here are 23 things I’ve learned, or figured out, in my 23 years on this Earth.

1. You don’t owe anyone anything. Ever. Period.

2. As long as you are safe to do so, be and present yourself as authentically as you can. The amount of emotional and mental freedom you feel when you can truly be yourself is nirvana.

3. Dark chocolate is the supreme chocolate, and black coffee is the ruler of coffee. If it’s the good quality stuff, it doesn’t need sugar or milk to be great.

4. You’re not weird for liking or being interested in the things you like. There are like-minded people out there in the world just waiting for you to discover them who will not just tolerate you, but celebrate you for it. 

5. Sometimes, you have to let go of things or people that are causing you more harm than good. It might take you a while to notice, realize, or accept, but flowers can’t grow in poisoned soil. Cut out anything in your life that is causing you angst or stopping you from growing.

6. You do need sleep and food! Providing your body with the proper amount of energy to function properly actually works. The body craves equilibrium. Everyone’s balance is different, and finding yours may take some time, but it’s worth the time and effort you might put in to find it.

7. The present moment is always going to be “the in-between”. I have had, and still do have, a hard time not idealizing the past or wishing for the future to happen faster; so much so that I forget to enjoy the present until it is the past. Take the time to enjoy the seemingly small moments of your present situation, because someday, you will cherish them.

8. Your entire life is not just middle and high school. Your entire life is not just your hometown, or the first 18 years of your life. When you’re in a place where not everyone gets you, it’s very hard to see that life gets better. The world is so much bigger than one town and has so many people and opportunities. You’re not defined by where you come from but how you progress from it.

9. Everyone can be an asshole. Doesn’t matter age, race, sexuality, gender, religion, etc. It takes all kinds.

10. Nobody in the world is a background character. Every single person you run into has a life: a family, friends, a passion, a career, a personality, and feelings. Your bodega man, your coworker, the person next to you in traffic, your sibling. Everyone comes from such a different background that you will never fully know because you haven’t lived it. Keep this in mind when interacting with people.

11. Take care of the aftercare of your piercings, tattoos, scars, or surgeries. They are alterations to your body and they deserved to be treated with care! Plus, you WILL regret not taking care of them, aesthetically and/or pain-wise.

12. Felt hangers are so much fucking better than plastic ones. They keep every piece of clothing on the hanger and off the floor. Do yourself a favor and invest in some.

13. Education is important, but there are many ways to learn besides through institutionalized education. You are constantly a student of life, and never have to cease your learning due to lack of funding or skill. Go learn guitar from a YouTube tutorial, ask a friend to teach you to drive stick, teach yourself how to paint. The world is your oyster if you’re willing to put in the time and passion.

14. Whatever you’re feeling, there is a song out there to express it.

15. There is almost never a reason to not use a reusable water bottle. Go buy a good one and decrease your carbon footprint.

16. You are not your trauma. You are not your mental illness. These things can manifest to be a huge part of your life or identify, but you do not have to let it become you. These things are a part of you and your life, but you are worth so much more than something that happened to or is happening to you. 

17. Getting better is always worth it. Trust me. Asking for help is always worth it. Trust me.

18. Friends can become your family. Surrounding yourself with supportive, amazing people makes life so much better.

19. Black looks good on everyone.

20. Never, NEVER wait to buy these things: plunger, krazy glue, glasses repair kit, sewing materials, light bulbs, flashlights, toilet paper, toothpaste, charger. By the time you need them, it’ll be too late. Thank me later.

21. It’s never too late or too dumb for you to start something you’re passionate about or interested in. If you want to do something, just fucking do it. What other people think or if “it’s good or not” literally has no bearing on the fact that it makes you happy or it’s fun. Spend more time thinking about your happiness and amusement rather than people’s supposed opinions about you.

22. Always go. If someone asks you to a concert, go. If someone asks you to go to a bar at 1am, go. If you’re invited to a poem reading at a bookstore, go (as long as you are comfortable of course).

23. Although, I’ve learned so much more in my life, I’ll leave you with this: The only constant is change. You can take this in a light way, or a dark way. What’s happening to you right now is not going to be that way forever, but also what’s happening to you right now is not going to be that way forever. Enjoy your happy moments while they are happening, and know that in your worst times, the skies will clear eventually and the sun will peak if not fully shine through.

24. Bonus: Don’t shave your fucking head without thinking about the fact that you have to grow it out, and that it’s gonna look weird sometimes and have its phases. Take it from me.

Happy Birthday to me. Stay safe, stay healthy, stay inside folks.

I think it’s times like this I’ll miss when I’m old.

A stream of consciousness~

The 6 year old “new” car smells of peppermint, as the familiar crack of my mother’s teeth on a mento is followed by the succeeding noise of the paper tube shuffling to let one into my father’s palm.

The punk sounds of my music enter my left ear, while the same classic rock my dad has been listening to for years enters my right. My mom fiddles with the radio to keep him up with the times and lands on the currently popular Lizzo song, as she promptly follows the orders of the lyrics by flipping her hair and checking her nails, and of course, “feeling good as hell.”

My headphones lie cockeyed on my head as I can feel the dull pain of my freshly pierced right ear against the pushed back piece of plastic. My ears ingesting two different things, my eyes gobbling up pages and pages of a book I hated but now am ravenously consuming before my book club meeting on Sunday; out of requirement and because the main character reminds me of my best friend who I miss.

Leaving my brother in state 1 to pack up his main life in a matter of a couple of days, saying goodbye to some people I know he loves very much and won’t see for a while, passing through state 2 where two of my close friends and past roommates live, entering state 3 where I have lived for all almost 23 years of my life. It’s grey out, the only color I can spot as I look up is the potent cerulean blue of the rest stop signs that perfectly match the cover of the book in my lap. When I was little I thought rest stops only existed in other states, because we never needed to visit one on Long Island because we lived there. I thought a lot of things when I was little. I’m realizing a lot of things recently, some good, some funny, some ridiculous. I often express them out loud, and when people don’t identify, it just solidifies my growing thought that everyone has such a unique and ever changing perception of the world.

My mother changes the radio station from an Ariana Grande song to a channel with commercials. It takes my father 30 seconds to realize, as his main focus is and should be on the road. He points out a horse on the fast passing farmland next to us, and I can feel my lips pull apart in a slight smile. My eyes well up as I watch the skinny bare trees wiz past, knowing that I’ll never be in this exact moment again. But then again, that’s the beauty of it, isn’t it?

You’d think people think about the big accomplishments in their lives as their greatest moments. I don’t discount or invalidate that, but there are moments I hold really near and dear to my heart I don’t think everyone would take a second glance at. Sometimes I can feel the wind whipping through my fingers, praying my rings wouldn’t fall off, rain water dripping onto my palm, looking at the cliffs of the Hawaiian landscape. Sometimes I think about the way the skin next to my brother’s eyes crinkle up when he laughs with his whole body instead of just his nose, at something no one else ever would think would merit that, but to him it does. Sometimes I think about my father reading on the living room couch, kindly petting the dog he didn’t want, who has nudged himself so close he might as well be sitting on his lap, and I wonder what stories are unfolding in his head from the words on the page. Sometimes when my mother leaves me a cup of half finished coffee, I think about being wrapped up in our old beige knitted blanket, at 6am, on the old armchair in my parents bedroom, when she would give me a cup of 1 tbsp coffee, 4 tbsp creamer, and I would cherish every drop of her generosity to allow a mere child such a delicacy. Sometimes I think about a moment of clarity I had while my hair was free in the wind of an Oregon highway, thousands of pine trees for the eyes to witness with wonder, thinking if there were that many pine trees there were so many other ways my life could be from how it is now. 

Lady Gaga’s “Alejandro” blares in my right brain, and Simple Mind’s “Don’t You” lightly tugs on my left brain’s nostalgia. I put down my tiny lettered phone to pick up my large type book. I think about one of my best friend’s sunny day working remotely in Florida, compared to my grey, many miles day in Massachusetts. I find sometimes, that I long for the opposite of what I currently have. As I push back my chin length hair that annoyingly hangs in my face, I think that although life has a lot of stark contrasts, there are a lot of in betweens. I’m trying to learn to appreciate how long my hair has gotten, from nothing to something, and while it’s great to think about how long it will get, I’m learning to try to love it in the middle. Life would be really really sad if you were only in love with the blacks and the whites, because more often than not, you’re landed somewhere on the grey spectrum. I’m finding that the greys are pretty great too.

-18:13, 3/19/20, in the back of my parents Mazda CX-5, on Merritt Parkway South, in Rye Brook, CT.

All About My Piercings

I don’t know what exactly classifies a person as “heavily pierced”, but I can definitely say I have more metal in my body than the average person. I got my first piercing when I was 5 years old- generic first lobe holes with little pink gems on golden studs. I was obsessed with them and wore every kind of earrings under the sun. That was just the start. At 22, I currently wear 16 piercings every day, which I’ve gotten over the span of 18 years of my life. Come on my journey with me of putting what some may think is way too many excess holes in my body.

Disclaimer #1: as of the publishing of this article, I have 16 active piercings (ones I actually wear jewelry in, other have closed up or are not in use). I’m not going to talk about the ones I no longer wear because this article would be wayyyyy too long. 

Disclaimer #2: I have very sensitive skin, so in my body, the only metals I will wear are titanium, stainless steel or pure gold. My preference in piercing style is a hollow sterile needle. My preferences are just that- my own and please do what works best for your body!

Disclaimer #3: I am not a licensed piercer by any means. Everything stated is my unprofessional opinion, in addition to my feelings / the way my own body handled the body modification. Talk to a licensed professional if you want professional advice. Essentially, this is just for fun and take everything here with a grain of salt. Thank you!

In order of when I got them:

  1. Right Upper Lobe

This piercing was originally my “first regular lobe piercing”. Upon looking at the unevenness of my two first holes, I got them re-pierced at 11, but I continued to wear this “upper” lobe piercing since then

  • When: 2002/2003 
  • Where: Frank and Fran’s
  • With what: Piercing gun : – (
  • Pain of piercing: 6
  • Pain of healing: don’t remember
  • Ease of healing: 7 (the back of my earring got lodged in the hole; did not know proper aftercare like I do now)
  • Jewelry I got it pierced with: Gold piercing studs (pink jewels)
  • Jewelry I’m wearing in it now: Small titanium stud with cz jewels
  • Ranking out of my piercings: 4/16 (unique piercing, I’ve never seen it on someone else)
  1. Left Lobe 2

This piercing was originally my “first regular lobe piercing”, just like the one above, but I just used this as a second lobe piercing later in life

  • When: 2002/2003 
  • Where: Frank and Fran’s
  • With what: Piercing gun : – (
  • Pain of piercing: 6
  • Pain of healing: don’t remember
  • Ease of healing: 5
  • Jewelry I got it pierced with: Gold piercing studs (pink jewels)
  • Jewelry I’m wearing in it now: Titanium endless hoop
  • Ranking out of my piercings: 10/16
  1. Right Lobe 1

This piercing was my new “first hole”, pierced when I was 11

  • When: 2008 
  • Where: Frank and Fran’s
  • With what: Piercing gun : – (
  • Pain of piercing: 4
  • Pain of healing: don’t remember
  • Ease of healing: 1
  • Jewelry I got it pierced with: Gold piercing studs (clear jewels)
  • Jewelry I’m wearing in it now: Changes on the daily, these are the only piercings I take out every night/change on a consistent basis/wear heavy or fake jewelry in
  • Ranking out of my piercings: 1/16 (most used/flexible)
  1. Left Lobe 1

The same as above

  • Ranking out of my piercings: 2/16 (most used/flexible, but a bit more sensitive than the right ear)
  1. Right Lobe 3

At the time I was 13 and not wearing the first two of these piercings, and I just wanted one second hole because I thought being asymmetrical would be cool. (At the time this was my “second” hole on my right ear)

  • When: 2011
  • Where: Frank and Fran’s
  • With what: Piercing gun : – (
  • Pain of piercing: 2
  • Pain of healing: don’t remember
  • Ease of healing: 2
  • Jewelry I got it pierced with: Gold piercing studs (clear jewels)
  • Jewelry I’m wearing in it now: Titanium endless hoop
  • Ranking out of my piercings: 11/16
  1. Left Lobe 3

Wanted 4 holes in my left ear. Mom said yes. Got ‘em for my 17th birthday present

  • When: October 2015
  • Where: Frank and Fran’s
  • With what: Piercing gun : – (
  • Pain of piercing: 4
  • Pain of healing: 3
  • Ease of healing: 5 (one of them did not wanna be pierced. Had to go back and repierce it years later)
  • Jewelry I got it pierced with: Silver ball studs (WOULD not recommend silver for piercings)
  • Jewelry I’m wearing in it now: Titanium endless hoop
  • Ranking out of my piercings: 9/16
  1. Left Lobe 4

The same as above

  • Ranking out of my piercings: 8/16
  1. Left nostril piercing

I had wanted this piercing for so long. I wore fake ones so often that people didn’t realize when I actually got it pierced that it wasn’t already real. My parents “allowed me to get it done” for Christmas when I was 18

  • When: January 2016
  • Where: Village Streetwear
  • With what: Hollow needle
  • Pain of piercing: 2?
  • Pain of healing: 3
  • Ease of healing: 7 (got multiple keloids, super annoying to heal)
  • Jewelry I got it pierced with: L shaped stud (purple iridescent!)
  • Jewelry I’m wearing in it now: Titanium endless hoop
  • Ranking out of my piercings: 3/16
  1. Septum

I was supposed to get this done in like September of 2016 with my best friend, but I chickened out and got my closed lobes repierced. My partner at the time wanted to get theirs and I was like “fuck it” and got it with them. However, they forgot their ID when we went to get it done, so the professional place turned us away, and we went to this side place because they wanted to

  • When: February 2017
  • Where: Some corner store on St. Mark’s street in NYC
  • With what: Hollow needle
  • Pain of piercing: 1
  • Pain of healing: 3
  • Ease of healing: 4 (got infected like a year after piercing after a cold, generally not annoying to heal)
  • Jewelry I got it pierced with: Regular shmegular titanium horseshoe
  • Jewelry I’m wearing in it now: same titanium horseshoe (I’ve worn endless titanium hoops which are cute but not able to flip up into my nose when necessary)
  • Ranking out of my piercings: 6/16
  1. Upper Cartilage 1 (lower)

My friend texted me on a Saturday morning and was like “wanna get free piercings?” and of course I was like yes. That was super dumb. I got them done by an apprentice (that’s why they were free), like 2 days before my 21st birthday

  • When: April 2018
  • Where: Not gonna say
  • With what: Hollow needle
  • Pain of piercing: 5
  • Pain of healing: 10
  • Ease of healing: 10 (stayed infected/incredibly painful for a year and a half after I got it pierced. Both of them are pierced diagonally through my ear, so no earring I had was long enough to not squeeze the skin. After a year and a half of huge keloids and pain, I switched the jewelry to something that finally worked and I haven’t had a problem since.) No shade on the apprentice who did them at all, they were new and I’ve learned after this that my ears realllllly hate cartilage piercings and are super temperamental to heal
  • Jewelry I got it pierced with: Flat back studs (reason these were awful was because the ball on the front was way too small and my ear almost swallowed them whole)
  • Jewelry I’m wearing in it now: Seamless pure gold hoop, and I will never wear anything else in it, because it’s the only thing that has never irritated it
  • Ranking out of my piercings: 12/16
  1. Upper Cartilage 2 (upper)

Same as above, but holy fuck this is the worst, most painful and troublesome piercing I have. I’m surprised I actually still have it in

  • Ranking out of my piercings: 16/16
  1. Left Upper Lobe

This is the easiest piercing I’ve ever had. I got it pierced on a whim; went with a friend to go to my favorite piercing place and just thought why not? I got it to even out my ears; I already had the upper lobe on my right

  • When: December 2018
  • Where: Village Streetwear
  • With what: Hollow needle
  • Pain of piercing: 0
  • Pain of healing: 1 (I genuinely forgot I got it pierced it was so easy).
  • Ease of healing: 1
  • Jewelry I got it pierced with: Titanium ball stud
  • Jewelry I’m wearing in it now: Small titanium stud with cz jewels
  • Ranking out of my piercings: 5/16
  1. Right Lobe 2

*sigh* so…. I was bored and depressed in my apartment one summer day and thought “I wanna fully even out my lobes. So I just pierced the extra 2 lobe piercings myself. Dumb, 1000% would recommend not doing that, but… here we are

  • When: July 2019
  • Where: …myself
  • With what: Sanitized sewing needle
  • Pain of piercing: 1
  • Pain of healing: 3
  • Ease of healing: 3 (Got a little red but nothing too bad)
  • Jewelry I got it pierced with: Gold piercing stud with clear jewel
  • Jewelry I’m wearing in it now: Titanium endless hoop
  • Ranking out of my piercings: 13/16
  1. Right Lobe 4

Literally do not do this. I lived right next to St. Marks street, the piercing capital of NYC; I had no excuse

  • Jewelry I got it pierced with: Small titanium ball stud
  • Jewelry I’m wearing in it now: Titanium endless hoop
  • Ranking out of my piercings: 14/16
  1. Conch

It was Friday the 13th and a piercing/tattoo shop had a deal for $13 piercings and I was like “hell yes” and the rest is history

  • When: October 2019
  • Where: Murda Ink 3
  • With what: Hollow piercing needle
  • Pain of piercing: 5
  • Pain of healing: 5
  • Ease of healing: 5 (Still have a little keloid on it, but I’m slowly healing it)
  • Jewelry I got it pierced with: Steel conch ring
  • Jewelry I’m wearing in it now: Steel conch ring (I literally am never touching this thing)
  • Ranking out of my piercings: 7/16
  1. Rook

Same story as above

  • When: October 2019
  • Where: Murda Ink 3
  • With what: Hollow piercing needle
  • Pain of piercing: 6 (I’m gonna be honest this was the most painful of my piercings, I think mostly because my conch was already in pain and it’s a tricky spot to get to)
  • Pain of healing: 5
  • Ease of healing: 5 (Still have a little keloid on it, but I’m slowly healing it)
  • Jewelry I got it pierced with: Steel curved barbell
  • Jewelry I’m wearing in it now: Steel curved barbell (I literally am never touching this thing)
  • Ranking out of my piercings: 15/16

Overall, I love my piercings. I’ve been pretty intentional with my placements and although some of them give me trouble, I wouldn’t take any of them out. I’m fortunate to live somewhere and work in an industry that doesn’t care about piercings. I personally prefer to hide my piercings and tattoos when I’m in a professional setting; I wear headphones all day so you can see none of my ear piercings, and I tuck up my septum. However I think they enhance my looks/aesthetic and I really love being a generally decked out person. 

I might put out a tattoo tour soon, so stay tuned! If you have any questions on piercings or body mods in general, feel free to DM me on Instagram: @mjsullivanart. Thanks for reading!

How my dating life changed after being in a same-sex relationship

I grew up as most young humans with vaginas do: being dressed up in pretty dresses for special occasions, being given dolls to play with, every item ever gifted to me being pink or purple (which was ultimately fine because I love purple). Along with the general aforementioned material items I was being taught to like, little by little I was being socialized to love men and present myself in a way that is most “desirable” to them. For years and years, I grew up hearing “Men don’t like it when you-”, or “No man wants a woman who-”.

Now, as a 22 year old human who is neither a woman, nor straight, I laugh at these convictions. I was raised to be a strong, independent human, which my parents instilled in me while also placing a certain importance on “becoming a woman”. I grew up hearing that it was “unladylike” to sit that way, not shave my legs, or wear or be interested in certain things. It was always a mystery to me as to why a family who believed in not letting anything hold you back in being yourself and accomplishing what you want definitely fell prey to some of the generalizations of what people who are different sexes “should be”. 

One answer I reached as an adult: it’s the way that people, especially women, in this society are socialized. I grew up in the early 2000s, and even in the 21st century I was being told by the world that my worth was dependent upon my possible desire to men. This specifically came through in the realm of appearance. I have always been in the mindset that “dumbing yourself down” so men would like you was just that – dumb. I never went along with that portion of the beliefs. My parents had taught me to be smart and to hold my own. However, I went through the vast majority of my life thinking this way: keeping my hair long, keeping my face made-up, dressing more femininely than I necessarily wanted to. Now, reflecting on this, why did I think that being who you were inside was more important than showing who you are on the outside?

When I was 15, I realized I was not straight. I came out as bisexual when I was 17, and I’ve eventually settled into the comfy hammock of the term “pansexual”. Gender genuinely has no bearing on my ability to find someone attractive or to fall in love with them. I had a boyfriend during my junior year of high school, someone who never made me feel uncomfortable with my body, appearance or sexuality. I knew I was attracted to all genders, but my mindset was still stuck with this tape on loop that I needed to be “presentable” and “desirable” to men, so they would want to date or hook up with me.

When I was in my sophomore year of college, I got into my first relationship with (someone who at the time presented as) a woman. I was in a queer, same-sex relationship for the first time in my life. I learned so many things about love, myself, relationships, mental health, etc. However, some of the biggest self-learning I did was post this almost 2 year long relationship. Newly single, 20, in New York City and at the time still not caring to question my gender, I was ready to get back into the dating scene after some recoup from an LTR.

Something about my mindset had definitely changed though. I had grown to love a side of myself that reared its head while in my relationship, in conjunction with my freedom at an art school to express myself however I pleased. I had outwardly embraced an aesthetic that felt the most like me, leaning into a limited color palette of black and darker jewel tones. I embraced my desire to change the hair everyone knew me for for the majority of my life and dyed it purple like I had been dyeing (pun intended) to do for years. A year later I shaved myself a side shave, because I always loved my long hair but wasn’t willing to commit at the time to a full shave just yet. I wore solely Doc Martens and boiled down my makeup routine to a simple cat eye and mascara, expressing myself with bolder eyeshadow or lipsticks when I had the time or the gaul. I inked my body with a couple tattoos and punctured it lovingly with a few more pieces of metal in my ears and nose. It was really the first time I looked at myself and saw MJ. I liked the way I looked before, and don’t hate that person by any means, but being this version of myself was and still is the most me I’ve ever felt.

I found myself feeling very comfortable embracing me instead of a gendered body. I didn’t feel the need to, and still don’t, put a label on my gender; I just feel like me. I loved dressing decently androgynously, changing like a clothing cameleon day to day. Some days I loved a black dress, patterned tights, and heels; others I preferred jeans, a flannel, and big hoops. It stopped mattering to me what was “feminine” and more what was “MJ”. I didn’t do, or wear, things because they were and or weren’t “what a girl should be”. I like to shave my body hair because I like the way it feels when I get in my clean sheets, not because it’s feminine. I wear winged eyeliner everyday because it makes me feel confident, not because I “should”. I learned (after shaving my head) that I love my long hair (with my side shave) because it makes me feel like me, not because “girls should have long hair”. I dressed however I wanted, because I felt like a badass, not because I wanted to please someone.

I reentered the dating scene with this newfound, subconscious (at the time) thought process of “So what if cis-men don’t find me attractive? I have like 7,000 other genders to pick from.” It’s been 2 years since then, and trust me, I’ve learned even more since then. I’ve had my fair millennial share of the dating scene, and I have something to report: Men don’t give a FUCK. I’m pansexual, with a stronger lean to women/gender-nonconforming folks, and I can say that half of my dates since have been cis-men. I have been the blonde, blue eyed, peppy gal. I have been the half-shaved-head brooding art school student. I have been the bald, overconfident “no long-termer.” I am currently the bobbed hair curvy GNC person I am today. I have not had as many male suitors as the stereotypical “pretty” as I have had at any other stage. You know what drew in most of the people I’ve been with? Not shaved legs, not long blonde hair, nothing of the sort.

Confidence. The second I learned to own and work what I had and who I was, things got much easier, for me, and for the dating life. On that same vein though, yeah, I had that self-discovery, but the point I’m trying to make- Men. Do. Not. Care. I have had hairy legs the whole time I was with a guy and he didn’t notice until I brought it up. I literally shaved my entire head while I was seeing a man and I walked into our next date and he said “Wow. Dramatic, looks great,” and proceeded to pursue me for the next year. 

What I learned namely from my same-sex relationship was that someone can and should love you for who you are if they truly love you. I was exactly the strong-headed, artsy, sardonic person I am, who also happened to shave their legs. My partner didn’t. I loved them just the same. I wore makeup everyday, they wore it for special occasions. I could talk about art, being queer, loving music, depression, baby goats and everything inbetween and they never judged. I felt entirely comfortable to be who I was. Did that have to do with it being a woman I was in a relationship with? I will say yes, but let me explain.

I think not having the preconceived internalized societal expectations of what a relationship should be really freed our relationship to grow and blossom in a way I don’t know that it would’ve if we were so caught up in what we were “supposed” to be doing. There was no expectation of who was supposed to ask who on a date, who was supposed to pay, who was supposed to cook and clean, or be the “pants wearer.” With a relationship that felt more like two chopsticks instead of a fork and spoon, we supported each other in completing what sides of the relationship we individually felt like executing, instead of trying to perform our separate different functions. It never felt like a requirement to fill out some role, it felt like doing whatever we naturally would’ve as people if gender norms were not at play, which they weren’t.

Being a very strong-willed and impatient person, I’ve been the pursuer of dates or relationships the vast  majority of the time. This used to be a huge internal struggle, specifically in high school, because I thought no one ever found me interesting or attractive enough to make the first move on me. What further frustrated me was that because no one was drooling over me like the movies said boys would, was that 1. I “couldn’t” make the first move with boys because it was “unladylike” 2. I believed I was undesirable as a person. Obviously if no boys are making the first move, I’m not special enough to love, right?

Wrong. Being able to drop the social norms of having to “let the man ask you out” and embracing my confident first-move making gene when pursing women or GNC cuties translated to my relationships with cis-men. After being in a long-term relationship with a woman, when I reentered the dating pool I entirely forgot that dating men was “supposed” to be approached differently. I realized this a couple months in, only to realize my bold tactics were not met with anger, but appreciation and attraction. On more than multiple occasions, regardless of gender or orientation, people have told me they admire my forwardness. When I’m out on a date with someone, the person who picks up the check is honestly whoever is closer to it or who is more insistent. Sometimes that’s me, other times it’s not, and most of the time we split it. 

Being able to exist in a world where I view all potential dating situations as more or less equal is incredibly freeing. I don’t feel the need to adhere to ideals set thousands of years ago by a society that no longer needs them. I know not everyone will or wants to experience being in a same-sex relationship. However, I implore you to take a walk around your mind and think about what you do in terms of your dating style and appearance based on your preference vs what you believe is expected of you. You may just find that upon taking another look at your preconceived thoughts that they are just that- preconceived.