MR’s Out-of-Office Reply Is Chock-Full of Feelings

OOO Home for the Holidays 2018 man repeller

There’s no place like home for the holidays, but I’m in Australia. For a wedding. Without my nine-month-old twins. Which is weird! But also wonderful! Because my husband could use some ~TLC,~ which he has said on a number of occasions leading up to this event — and I respect it implicitly even though every spare second I have and even within some of the occupied ones, I dive nose first into my iPhone’s photo library and press the play button on a stock of video I formulated before I left last Wednesday. It’s mostly of babies army crawling across a wood floor, but it makes me feel at home when I am sick for it, which is often — a curious new sensation that has hijacked my Sunday nights for at least the past five months. 

Fuck, I am predictable — like any other mother on any other weekday feeding herself a serving of guilt like it is the breakfast before a hunger strike. 

I just dipped a tomato in sun-dried tomato paste, by the way. 

I’m supposed to be telling you that Man Repeller is OOO for the holidays — that next week you’ll see some new content, but not at our normal cadence. We’ll all be with family, reflecting and evaluating but most importantly enjoying, and I wish the same for you. Go out and do something you love, just for the sake of doing something you love! Go on! Right now!

You know, they’re a uniquely magnificent and genuinely spectacular group of individuals that I get to work with — the right to the internet’s left, as Haley calls us. A relentless herd looking to poke bright, not bleak holes in the stories that we tell ourselves, to paraphrase Harling. Amelia says we’re a clown car, and to that — by now you know that Friday was her last day at Man Repeller. And I wasn’t even there! Whiplash will smack me when I return on January 2nd, but man I’m proud. I’m having a hard time accessing words that will articulate her impact but let me say it again, I am proud — to be her friend, her ally, to have been a mentor over years that brought so much joy. That provided an environment for us to build a remarkably idyllic version of what instant connection over the internet could be like. I am so committed to this notion — intangible but visceral connection among strangers who are actually friends ready to meet in a comments section. So thank you — yes, you! — for proving this is real. For providing us with enough ammo to drill down on the network we’ve already developed, but to pursue a reason to formalize it in the coming year. 

Ah, the coming year. The past year! Time! What a finite, but simultaneously infinite resource. I should leave you with something inspiring on it, no? The retrospective delight and surprise that acknowledges what’s happened and in doing so, wraps the box of next year’s mystery.

But I’m in a mood

Namely because I’m writing this on my 30th birthday, on Amelia’s last day in the office, from a distance so far geographically, but also mentally and emotionally. I’m conflicted in so many directions — about what happens when I turn to my right on January 2nd and there is an empty desk just standing there. About the fact that I’m 30, and experiencing existential uncertainty. How predictable, yet again. I feel like Derek Zoolander looking into a puddle. I keep asking it questions and it keeps saying, “I don’t know.” But the thing is, I do know. 

Exactly who I am. 

Exactly what I want. 

 More or less how to get it. 

And you do too. The weird and scary and fascinating but mostly gorgeous thing about “growing up” is the inflection point you hit when you meet the scripts you have been running and recognize that they’re no longer true. You start to rewrite what is true because the truth has changed, but the framework is so wide, the parameters so faint, that you get overwhelmed by it. Suddenly, you’re not a bystander reacting to time passing. You’re the one making it pass. So you have a grand old choice to own the events of your story — its simultaneous luck and misfortune — and to do something with it. About it. Over it. Under it. Tweak or keep driving — I don’t know, I have verb fatigue.

The last page of a calendar has so much meaning affixed to it — sometimes I wonder why because counting days just leaves you with a bunch of numbers, but other times I can’t believe that we don’t always see the significance of adding page breaks to the sequence of time. It’s an opportunity, more than anything, to sit with yourself and acknowledge the mental camera roll of a year passed. You can probably do this with your de facto camera roll but real pictures are distracting in that the memories you glue to them might get obscured by a cool skirt you wore, or how shiny your hair looked — any number of visible variables that tap at your shoulder as if to divert your attention from the grand scheme of the roll. A bank of memories begging you to stop, look and unclench your butt cheeks as it whispers quite deftly, It’s not as bad as you think it was. I guess the thing is that it never is.

Happy holidays.

Collage by Emily Zirimis; Photo by Edith Young.

Leandra M. Cohen

Leandra M. Cohen is the founder of Man Repeller.

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