I haven’t put a ton of thought into an editor’s letter in a while. I haven’t been writing on this site much, either. Lately I’ve felt so utterly overwhelmed by the absolute horror that is EVER TALKING, EVER, that I’ve retreated in as many areas of life as possible without neglecting the ole Rooks completely. I wish I could say I’ve also resisted becoming a bad friend, but I have been so positive that everybody is so absolutely DISGUSTED by every stupid thing I have said or done in the past, and every stupid thing I am bound to say or do in the future, that I saved them all the inconvenience of having to bear any more time with the clump of cells that is my being and stopped talking to most of them in general. I also wish I could say I’ve avoided becoming a lazy student, but the idea of sitting in a room full of other people has recently struck me as PROFOUNDLY absurd, and I keep getting distracted from the education part of school by noticing how creepy people can look when they’re smiling, and how sad other people can look when they seem to feel they’re missing out.
This is a pretty good problem to have, because really the thing I am afraid of (being alive) is something the vast majority of people manage, day after day. Many of them are even happy. Many of them have more reason to be sad than I do. And really, when you put it in perspective, when you consider that I am just one of billions of people on earth and how tiny we all are and what a brief moment in time this is and how one day the universe will explode or implode or something—WAIT HOLY SHIT THAT MEANS THIS IS THE ONLY TIME THAT I GET HOW DO I MAKE THE BEST OF IT WITHOUT BEING A BAD PERSON? And then, wait, how does it work out that I think life is the worst, but I also don’t want it to go away? AND THEN, why don’t I have a more sophisticated analogy for this than how I felt when I finished the one and only season of E!’s Pretty Wild?
See? A really pretty good problem. The things we get into with our own brains tend to be. But if a problem is great enough to keep someone from making the most of the opportunities in front of them, or from being a good and genuine person to others, it’s worth examining. Not as an excuse to stew in self-pity or fish for compliments or dominate a random conversation like “oh speaking of that new Anne Hathaway movie-musical I, TOO, AM PRETTY MISERABLE,” but in the interest of getting through it and educating oneself and being able to move on to more important things. You acknowledge something is up, you give thanks that it’s this and not something worse, and then you are as honest with yourself as you can be as you try to solve it. You talk to someone when you need to without losing sight of what they might also be dealing with, and you delve in, knowing that you might find a side of yourself that is less than flattering, and that you’ll be obligated to try and change it afterwards, simply because it will be too late to go back to your old habits, guilt-free.
So! In an attempt to talk to some people, I asked the Rookie staffers in our Facebook group: “What do you do when you are so mortified by just the daily embarrassment of living and interacting with people that you stop talking as much as is possible both online and off? ASKING FOR A FRIEND.”
(All of this, BTW, is about my friend, actually.)
These wise souls all had a lot to share (“Talk to a tree”—Jamia; “Hang out with a cat”—Kimberly), and Lola sent me this quotation from Lester Bangs that felt so absolutely right that I wrote it down in my journal to come back to whenever necessary:
It reads: “Just for the record, I would like it known by anybody who cares that I don’t think life is a perpetual dive…I suspect almost every day that I’m living for nothing, I get depressed and I feel self-destructive and a lot of the time I don’t like myself. What’s more, the proximity of other humans often fills me with overwhelming anxiety, but I also feel that this precarious sentience is all we’ve got and, simplistic as it may seem, it’s a person’s duty to the potentials of his own soul to make the best of it. We’re all stuck on this often miserable earth where life is essentially tragic, but there are glints of beauty and bedrock joy that come shining through from time to precious time to remind anybody who cares to see that there is something higher and larger than ourselves. And I am not talking about your putrefying gods, I am talking about a sense of wonder about life itself and the feeling that there is some redemptive factor you must at least search for until you drop dead of natural causes.”
I don’t love the remark about “putrefying gods,” but generally, it’s a life-saver.
I don’t really know what my religious deal is completely, but I have a lot of faith. I am sure at any given moment that there is no shortage of goodness in its various forms out there. I am sure that potential and possibility and the fact that something can exist even just as an idea alone is enough for me. I am also sure that soon enough, I’ll feel disconnected from it all once more, and extreme hermitry will install itself in my daily routine for another period of time. By then, hopefully the phrase “extreme hermitry” will have caught on and become the title of a hit reality show on E! that airs at the same time Pretty Wild used to. And while that TV show will be unbearable and ridiculous for everybody involved, I will love its every embarrassment and make the most of it while it lasts. Just like I did Pretty Wild. (And also life, if that wasn’t clear.)
SO, this month’s theme is Faith. This kind of faith, but religion, too. And lots of Frida Kahlo! It’s not too late to send in a submission, especially if you have anything about being Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, or Hindu: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, the holidays are coming up. ALLOW ME TO REMIND YOU CASUALLY OF THE ROOKIE SHOP, SHOULD YOU BE LOOKING FOR GIFTS TO GIVE. Rookie Yearbook One is the 350-page print compilation of our best content from our first year of existence, that T-shirt is real cute, and we also just added a calendar, designed by Kelly and Allegra, for which I chose illustrations and photos from the site. It is really attractive because we have many talented illustrators and photographers! And it would be at home on any wall.
OK, I think that’s everything. Happy holidays and end of the world to you and yours and thank you, as always, for being here.