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So Sad Today Meets The Woebegone Boy

Updated: Feb 28, 2019


From: Sean O'Bryan <seanobryan312@gmail.com>

Date: Thu, Feb 21, 2019 at 2:57 PM

Subject: The Woebegone Boy Meets So Sad Today

To: <melissabroder@gmail.com>


I felt our minds begin to intertwine as I read some Vice article that you wrote. You spoke with an audacious honesty very familiar to me. It actually tends to get me in hoards of trouble. My trends on the internet slowly began introducing us: your Twitter, more Vice articles, interviews, and finally your book of personal essays, So Sad Today. I am on page 106. I like writers who confront their vulnerabilities with blunt honesty. Undigested words vomited from your conscience, cover your book with an unusual comforting emesis.


It’s disgustingly attractive and inspiring for the many souls living in these low dimensional parallels. It’s nihilistic artistry, dark magic, friendly bitching between love and pain? How do you describe your writing style, genre, disease? I suppose that would depend on who you were talking to…


Anyway, I’ll probably write more when I finish the book.


Thanks,


WB

 


I finished Melissa Broder's book two days ago. It’s a collection of gorgeously sad essays that grapple with her depressive mind and reveal how she has chosen to drown the holes within her. I remember opening the cover, slipping through the introductory credits, and arriving at this quote:



“If we could be satisfied with anything, we should have been satisfied long ago.”


- Seneca


I began to see a reflection of my visceral truth in this. Satisfaction is a grand gift and curse of mine. I am addicted to it, constantly fishing for more. I’ve reeled it in, taken it off the hook, and felt its sensation of accomplishment, but shortly after it leaves me. I let it go back into the fluidity of its natural habitat. Satisfaction is an evanescent experience. I struggle when it leaves, but in the end it motivates me. This sort of fishing keeps me busy.


Melissa doesn’t hesitate to dive into her deep struggles with validation either. It’s her “main bitch” (1). Who doesn’t want to be wanted, feel important, or loved? Her curiosity to find her pisces seems to have a perpetual depth. Living in a boundless mind causes her severe anxiety and fills 203 pages with the dark intimidations of life on earth. It’s a nihilistic wet dream. Her menacing thoughts took me into familiar abysses of depression, addiction, and an ongoing yearn to be more. I like to call it: the existential crisis of perpetual curiosity.



We all suffer throughout life, yet most of us prefer to pretend that we don't. On the surface, it seems much more comforting to keep our conflicts inside our tiny bodies. God forbid they escape into this big strange universe. Other people may find out! They could uncover the real me, see beneath the nature of my already imperfect skin! Nobody wants that filth. “Grab my concealer, a fifth of vodka, and take a picture of me riding this unicorn with my selfie perfected fake smile! Shit let me take my Invisalign out! I’ll be right back.”


“Nobody asks to be born” (5). She’s not wrong. There’s no approval process for entering into the world of existence. We don’t have any control over who births us or the location we take our first breath in. Personally, I am lucky on all accounts: family, health, nutrition, house, economics, etcetera. I love my location, Chicago, for about three months out of the year. The more dominant tundra-like climate, selfishly, makes me wish I could’ve popped out in a much warmer region (perhaps even a different planet!?). No, my wants are petty and needles. What I really need is less! I have more than enough luxuries. Existence is what it is.



So why do most people decide to wake the nonliving? Mel’s intriguing take seems bleakly radical “Babies are born, because parents themselves feel that they are not enough. So, parents, never condemn us for trying to fill our existential holes, when we are but the fruit of your vain attempts to fill yours” (5). Immediately after rereading this, I suddenly feel compelled to ask my parents (individually) why they chose to birth me. I won’t fight this urge either. I’m curious, I want to know, one moment please…

Ok, the results are in.



Mom: “I don't know! I thought there would be more to life. I was enjoying my life and thought it would add another part, another good thing to enjoy.”




Dad: “It wasn’t really a choice... Well, I guess it was a choice. I mean, I don't know if it was a conscious decision at the time, in terms of bringing kids into the world. Mom got pregnant and we had kids. We weren’t opposed to the plan. We just had kids and it introduced us to a new part of life.”



While I had to trim out lots of laughter, confusion, tangents, and mockery, this is the word for word core of their hesitant answers. I didn’t sense much alignment to Mel’s ideology, but then again not many parents would be comfortable telling their offspring that they are void fillers. As previously mentioned, we all like to play pretend. Like if you decided to get Botox, maybe, you’d rather keep it on the down low to pretend you are comfortably confident with your aging appearance. You act out a harmless fantasy to manage the risk of being ridiculed. While I strive to be more honest with myself and others, I still fall victim to wearing the masks of my fantasies.


Anyway, back to the point of my parental interviews. the one thing that seemed to ring constant between them was that bringing kids into the world of reality was pretty spontaneous for them. It wasn’t a calculated plan. The act wasn't hidden behind a mask of fantasy, it was much simpler. It was natural. Likewise, existence just seems to happen. The chaos of illness is one in the same. Whether it be physical, mental, or existential our illnesses, problems, and emotions are wildly native to humanity. It is what it is.



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