Dying childless at 80
Starting off the newsletter on a positive note
I’ve never enjoyed showing my writing to others. It’s so vulnerable—worse than that first horrible moment of terror when revealing your swimsuit at the beach.
No, sending out a newsletter to real people, people I know? That’s like taking off my skin.
An ugly sight to begin with. And what if, underneath all those layers of dermis and fat, there’s a just a crude, vulgar, bloody mess? Too red, or sickly pink? What if you see how quickly my heart’s beating? What if my arteries are cringe?
What if you run away screaming?
Too bad, I guess.
I have to get over my fear of letting people peek under my skin at some point. I told someone recently that, if I were lying on my deathbed at 80, childless, I’d maybe feel disappointed about missing out on kids. I don’t know, parenthood as a concept weirds me out, especially with a climate catastrophe making its way downtown Vanessa Carlton style.
But if I were lying on my deathbed at 80, unpublished? Nothing on a bestseller list, no silver award embossed next to my name, not even an honorary mention as one of the best writers of the 21st century?
I’d be absolutely devastated.
I’m just a little bit ambitious.
There’s nothing wrong with ambition, of course. Delusions of grandeur are lovely—they give your eyes a little sparkle. I just don’t want to feel embarrassed, anymore, about admitting I have these visions for myself. About the one thing I’ve always wanted to do: write. About being so good at it, someday, that it makes me immortal.
If I’ve learned anything from this pandemic, after all, it’s how fragile life really is. How quickly years can go by.
So, while I run headfirst towards either fame or shame (please let it be one or the other), you might as well enjoy the fruits of my procrastination.
First, the reason I began a newsletter in the first place. I’m actually on trend, okay?
As we all know, there’s a deadly plague sweeping this godforsaken land. To distract myself from my existential woes, I started following DeuxMoi, a celebrity gossip Instagram, consisting entirely of follower submissions.
So yeah, you have to take it with a grain of salt. But I deeply appreciate schadenfreude as an emotional cleanse, and nothing makes me feel more morally superior than knowing I’m nicer to my baristas than everyone I’ve ever seen in a TV show or heard on the radio. With the exception of Drew Barrymore, who is apparently lovely.
DeuxMoi (and its predecessor and peer, Crazy Days and Nights) post mostly blinds about cheaters or breakups, possible projects in the pipeline, hook up stories with the rich, famous, and headphone-wearing, and the occasional rumor about cannibalism.
We all have a phase in which we think we’re too cool to care about pop culture. I studied literature, you know? I listened to classical music. I watched Mad Men!!
But when I was 13, I read Tiger Beat religiously.
Just look at that cover and tell me it doesn’t light up all your synapses.
Zac Efron lives in Australia now, Miley Cyrus is divorced, and Cole Sprouse is a weirdo who wears hats. And it’s amazing.
Like Walt Whitman said, we all contain multitudes. My multitudes just happen to include both watching full ballets on YouTube and following the train wreck and enigma that is Caroline Calloway.
It’s through random snark communities that I found out about the growing genre of newsletters, covering anything from personal essays to historical letters.
There’s Hung Up by Hunter Harris, the queen of pop culture analysis. Griefbacon by Helena Fitzgerald. Letters of Note, Deez Links, the wonderfully surreal Shatner Chatner.
Before discovering the weird world of weekly columns, I’d have physically recoiled at the idea of signing up for more emails. Purposefully filling up my cursed inbox, that place where job applications—and my hopes and dreams—go to die? Who do you think I am, someone successful? A capitalist?
But there’s a unique, retro kind of freedom in newsletters. They give me something to laugh about—Hunter’s recent piece on aggressive Reformation subject lines being a prime example—or send me to interesting articles, or just utterly bewilder me. They’re exactly and whatever their authors envision them to be.
What I envision is a column where I can combine my writing and my thoughts on pop culture, hopefully make you laugh, and explore the depth of meaning in something easily written off as meaningless.
I don’t know where this newsletter will go, if it’ll amount to anything or just amuse you all and embarrass me for a few months and then drift away into the annals of the pathetically earnest internet. But in the meantime, I too can do whatever I want, including studiously ignore AAOW’s stats page. I can talk about whatever I want, however I want, and there’s nothing you hoes can do about it.
Except unsubscribe, I guess.
Gossip Girl seized “Xoxo” in 2007 and has never relinquished it. If I use “Au revoir” to sign off, you’d rightly call me pretentious and never open another email from me again. This isn’t Emily in Paris (and thank god for that).
So: ‘til next time? Simple, to the point. Good enough for now. I’ll see you then.