If you are reading this, I am high. Very, very high. I’m on two Xanax, one Norco, and a handful of ibuprofen I took just for taste. Today, I take this combination because my retina detached and I needed emergency surgery. One Saturday two years ago, I took it after my audition day on this website.
As many of you may have noticed—some, I am certain with that sense of unfettered glee that comes from knowing you won’t ever be tricked into clicking on a picture of a My Little Pony melting in a jar of congealed spooge ever again—I have been gone from Jezebel since the beginning of December.
If I could have it my way, I’d be here with you forever, bringing you interviews with Tori Amos and Meg Cabot, grousing about Grumpy Cat, and getting married over and over again in states and clerks’ offices in which I am not wanted. But that’s not how the universe works, and despite Emma’s best efforts to keep me (seriously, you guys, she is the best. Sometimes I just text her gifs at 2am and she hasn’t yet blocked my number), I’ve moved on to UPROXX where I’ve become a senior writer in their LIFE section, something that’s awesome and a dream come true for me, but perhaps not as beneficial for them, as my pitch emails include subjects such as “I EAT 20 HAMBURGERS AND IMMEDIATELY GO SWIMMING” and “I WHIP MY HAIR BACK AND FORTH LIKE WILLOW SMITH FOR THE DURATION OF HER ENTIRE VIDEO TO SEE IF IT WILL CAUSE A CONCUSSION,” or “WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE FRIENDSHIP BETWEEN LIL MAMA AND AVRIL LAVIGNE? LET’S INVESTIGATE.”
I haven’t been fired yet, but my new boss does sometimes leave me voicemails that just say “Mark...” in the tone the librarian at my high school — shoutout to Ms. Atwater! — used whenever I’d announce I was taking books without checking them out and then roll out with a fat stack of gay porn that should have never been in a high school library in the first place. In retrospect: WTF, SOTA?
But unlike the Spice Girls, I can’t have my future if I forget my past (unless I am hit in the head by a bus, something that’s happened to Anna Merlan and which you can read about here), and my past is here, at a website where someone in the comments once asked how many children I had kidnapped and sexually abused in my basement. The answer, by the way, is zero. I live in an apartment in San Francisco, and even if I was into that sort of thing, I don’t even have a parking space to call my own.
As I’ve mentioned, I am very high right now, so let’s just move past this, hit the highlights, dole out some thank yous, and call it a night. (I have to be back on my right side and away from a screen in about twenty minutes or my retina might get detached again, and none of us want that to happen.)
Let’s start with the thank yous: There are two people I am grateful to above all—Laura Beck and Jessica Coen (who won’t let me call her CoCo, but has grudgingly accepted J.Co). In my phone, J.Co is listed as “Unjust Popcorn” because I can’t spell for shit and while the iPhone balks at the use of the word vagina (an issue Jessica wrote about here), it somehow believes that a parent would name their child Unjust Popcorn—out of a sense of whimsy, I assume).
On a side note, when Tracy Moore calls me, my phone informs me that “Tracy Moore Pooped Herself.” Because she did. While giving birth. Haha. Loser.
Anyway, back to Laura and “Ha.-J” as many of her emails to me read: My being here, being a professional writer, and being the best writer I can be right now is due to them. Two years ago, I was teaching college and trying to decide if I still wanted to finish my hours to become a therapist. Then Laura (my best friend for over a decade now) told me a position was opening on the weekends and that I should apply. And apply I did. While we pretended Jessica sent me the first email, I really just kept emailing her day after day after day after day (till the days gooooo byyyy) until she finally said “fine. You can try.”
In my first few months of weekends, Laura helped me with copy, links, and photos. Jessica made sure I didn’t embarrass myself or the site. When she told me I could stay, I received the email while at a Gamestop and had to be escorted out because I was so excited. Jessica has always told me to STFU and stop thanking her for everything, but she gave me my start as a writer and I will be eternally grateful to her. (Yes, even when I am dead, which I assume will be uncomfortable for both of us.) (Also, this week the doctors put a silicone buckle in my eye that they say will burn to ash right along with me when I’m cremated. Cool, right?) I also want to point out that some of my best writing—including this piece about wanting to get married in 2015 despite my now husband’s many valid objections—has flourished under her leadership. You guys know all that weird gross shit I wrote? Like about knotting and poop? That was all Jessica’s idea. She brought me to the anal prolapse beat and then she let me make it my own.
There are other people I need to thank (don’t worry, Laura doesn’t need any more thanking because just like in that that scene with Rebecca De Mornay and Cardinal Richelieu in Disney’s The Three Musketeers, she reminds me she can make me and break me on a daily basis), chief among them Anna Merlan, Kelly Faircloth-Webb, and Tracy Moore. Anna and Kelly tirelessly read almost every one of my posts before I sent them to final edits to make sure I was turning in good work. They helped me with jokes. They were the people I spoke to most often. Like all my co-workers here, they’re not just colleagues, they’re friends, confidantes, and incredibly talented people I am lucky to know and to have worked among. And they put up with me much more than they had any reason to.
Tracy Moore? I was a fan before I started writing here, and I’m an even bigger fan now. She is a brilliant writer and editor and not only helped me land my first big interview for Jezebel, but coached me through it like a rescue worker who lovingly teaches a physically and mentally-incapacitated chipmunk to become the Chip and/or Dale of their dreams. Still pooped herself, though.
I am also fortunate to have worked with Stassa Edwards (who I still call in times of crisis and who is one of the best writers and editors I know), the powerhouses that are Isha Aran, Phoenix Tso, Marie Lodi, Rebecca Rose, Rachel Vorona Cote, Jane Marie and Colin Pinkham, and the core writing staff of Jezebel—which includes everyone from Doug Barry (whose shifts I originally took over), to Joanna Rothkopf, whom I only had the pleasure of working with for a few short months. Bobby, Hillary, Clover, Kate, Kara, Ellie, Jim, and Tara—you are the wind beneath my wings and I flap them for you. Maddie: I have always secretly hated you because your writing style is funny and effortless and wonderful and you’re not even conceited about it, so you can just go ahead and fuck yourself.
Thank you to Julianne for allowing me to branch out into movies and music, get weird and opinionated and unravel the lies of the dude with the double dicks. Thanks Jia for her tireless edits of my work and her uncanny ability to get me to the heart of the things I really wanted to say when I was writing a 6,000 word opus that really needed to be about 1500 characters max (WHERE ARE YOU RIGHT NOW? I NEED YOU!). And thanks to Erin, Dodai, Tracie, and Lindy, who left before I did, but like a slogan on t-shirt I once saw, left paw prints on my heart. Also: Does everyone remember Callie? Because you should really go back and read all of her posts. She’s amazing. And she helped me with all the research for my pieces on knotting and Mpreg. Let’s also never forget the posts about the best peen shots in movies (MoGlo’s idea!) or foods shaped like dicks. Important journalistic efforts, all.
Funny story about knotting: When I was writing that post, I was still teaching, so I’d research One Direction fan fiction during my office hours because no one came anyway. One time a student came by and I swivelled away from my computer towards her, holding a perfectly innocent conversation with my screen on behind me. It was only after she left, flustered, that I realized that the particular web page I had been on was a story about Niall impregnating Harry through the butt (as you do). Enlarged to a font big enough for my legally blind ass to read. I never saw that student again. I think she dropped my class.
Listen, I think I’ve thanked everyone, the drugs are kicking in hard, and Marie says I have to get this thing up at 7 if it’s going up, so I’m going to cut this shit short before my eye starts weeping real tears instead of pus globules and say one more thing. (We already did the highlights. Just click the links!)
Here it is: Not everyone will admit it, but we all read the comments. And some of us, like me, read the comments obsessively. We form relationships with the core readership—not the faceless hits on the internet but with the people who come back here day after day to tell us how awful we are—and those relationships are real.
What I will miss most, besides swearing a lot and investigating whether cat hair can really get stuck in your vagina, is corresponding with you on a daily basis. It’s impossible, of course, to get everyone to like you (I learned that quickly and it was an important lesson; every post is the equivalent of the dreaded faculty evaluations I had to have done every semester), but if you move past pandering, you can learn, laugh, love and do whatever else that fucking Leeann Womack song tells you to do on the cover of a journal you bought in the impulse aisle at Michael’s. You guys are the best, and I hope you keep in touch on Twitter, via email, or over at UPROXX.
Oh, and I totally read Groupthink and Clashtalk, you guys; WE ALL READ GROUPTHINK and CLASHTALK.
tl;dr: I love you. I love Jezebel. Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better, (I have, but go with the lyrics), but I have been changed for good.
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image via shameless selfie last night at like 4am after I ate an entire pizza and watched “Beastly” with my brother.