Friday, September 23, 2011

Look At You, You're Growing Old So Young

"I feel like moving to California would be admitting to myself that somewhere, deep down inside, I actually might want to be happy. I’ve wanted many things in my life; happiness has never been one of them."

May 6, 2008

I'm happy. 


Today I turn 30 and today I am going to write a post on this blog. 

But it's been ages since I've properly cut open a limb for you, dear blog, and I don't know where to begin. The scar turned perfectly white in a few years. I keep stopping and starting again. I'm better at deleting things than I was.

I live in California and I'm happy.

In lieu of deleting/starting-over over and over, I'm just gonna do that thing where I write down all the words as they announce themselves in my brain and then publish this blog post and then if nobody comments I will feel really insecure and delete the post like it never happened and eventually get over it and then one beautiful December morning you'll wake up to a brand new comment-worthy Sunday Top Ten about muppets or citrus fruit.

The longer it's been the harder it is. I have 10-12 stories to tell you about California but haven't decided if I should tell them all at once or one-by-one or another way. A way the universe has yet to reveal to us.

I'm not as busy as I was last year -- simply because keeping up that pace would've killed me -- no, that's a lie. Would've killed you. Because I don't have any regrets in life, not ever, but I regret editing that video instead of going upstate last summer. I regret leaving New York four months before my body actually left New York. I guess I was trying to detach, like detachment is a thing you can put on a packing list and check off before you check off "socks."

I have more work now than I've ever had but it feels more structured now. So less busy. It feels real. Like me. I'm 30 and I'm real. 30 entire years on this silly planet!


Today I turn 30 and today I am going to take myself seriously -- that I'm a proper grown-up, that it's okay that I don't have an "income" or own a car or a house or a tiny baby or a pet or a dishwasher or veneers or whatever a 401k is (I feel like I'll never find this out). It's okay 'cause I made Autostraddle and I have Marni and I have so many amazing friends and co-workers and I like the weather and all my cleverly planned meals. It's okay that I am getting things done in a different order than initially anticipated. 


The morning we left for San Francisco from San Diego after my panel at BlogHer, a woman named Julia who'd been on the panel with me told me to "own it." We were sitting by the pool at The Marriot (where everyone stayed except us, we stayed at The Dolphin Inn, which I highly recommend) with a bunch of other gay-lady blogger-buddies, eating breakfast burritos wrapped in soggy sheathes of foil, and she was talking to whomever was sitting next to me. And then I saw her and said hi. She's one of those people you like right away.

So she goes "You act all like" [imitating me] "Oh I don't know, I just started this website and now it's big and popular and a-ma-zing, I guess it just like happened?" [being herself again] "You have to own it. Own it. You did this. You made this happen. Own it."

"Right," I said, in a voice I imagined a pirate might use to reassure his pirate captain that he was heading in the right direction despite the fact that the pirate had no fucking idea what hemisphere he was in.

"No, you have to own it. Own it, girl! You knew what you were doing."

In the car driving back to San Francisco from San Diego I tell Marni that I feel like Julia is right but I can't shake the cranky 12-year-old animal hibernating in my subconscious who'd like to argue otherwise. 

Marni says Julia is right. Marni tells me that Julia is right every day. Not in so many words, but you know what I mean. 

I keep trying for the whole car ride home to experiment with owning it. I am experimenting with self-esteem. It's like trying to clasp a stubborn necklace where you can only maintain almost getting it for long enough to believe you might really get it. So then there's the let-down, the cheap silver napping across your palm, her naked collarbone. 


This blog is a novel about a heroine in her twenties lost in a giant dirty/beautiful city. She's swallowing hearts and breaking fingers. She's giving herself daily emotional autopsies and they're always inconclusive. She's being lifted and pushed against the hard white rock of someone else's townhouse and eaten alive. She let you fuck her in the cab and fuck her over on the stairwell. She's excessively maudlin at odd hours and doesn't know what to do when her shoe breaks on 14th street. 

Now I'm in California. It's another chapter, or it's an Afterword that might never end. The Neverending Afterword. 


I am far away from so many things but I have no room to miss you. I miss you too much to miss you. 

16 years ago I had a choice: open your heart to the prospect of wanting to see a person you'll never see again, or stop wanting. I chose the latter. 

I chose not to miss anybody. I just want to see you. We'll pick up where we left off. The phone calls and emails in between seem oddly tedious, like oil changes you're abstractly aware your car needs to keep running although you've still got no idea what an oil change actually is. Or maybe you do, and that's one of the 400 things about the world I missed in favor of catching the things nobody else cares about. But the phone calls and the emails do remind me of having you near, and make me miss you more, and want to see you more. But like I said I miss you too much to miss you. 

If I let myself miss people I might even miss the 24-year-old who wrote this novel. She was so new /tender that reading everything she wrote makes my heart ache so hard I feel like it's crawling up my throat, begging to get out and give up/party. 

No, I miss her because I feel like this now:

"I crave blogging. I crave sitting down and telling you about my day, or my emotional insight, or the mind-blowing sex, or what I’ve been writing today. All of which have been happening. It’s a challenge to be that open and honest here, for lots of reasons. What used to feel like a sanctuary now feels like a podium and microphone in front of hundreds of people, so I psych myself out.
What do I even want to tell you? How do I begin to explain the last six weeks? What do you want to know?"
Sinclair Sexsmith

Maybe I am confusing missing something with wanting it back.

If I let myself miss people I would miss Ryan, my "other half" who by definition should've left me broken when he vanished. He's not even on facebook. He could be anywhere. If I let myself miss people I would miss Caitlin, and that would be confusing and hard. Like I said, it's hard to not confuse missing something with wanting something back. She's still everywhere, she listened. 

I could go on but let's not.

If I let myself miss people I would miss everyone. I just want to see you. I will get on a plane and see you soon enough, or you'll get on a plane and see me soon enough, if you can wait. We'll pick up where we left off. We always do! In the meantime, I think about you and write about you every day.


I am 30 years old which means I can't use youth as an excuse anymore, which means Julia is right, I have no choice. I have to own this. I have to own what I've made.

I am 30 years old and a real live human. 

I wake up every morning between 7:30 and 8:30. I have a meeting with Laneia and Rachel, who I love and have loved for so long. And Marsha, who is teaching us to be better leaders. I've got a cute apartment I might actually buy furniture for this weekend.

I ride my bicycle everywhere. I've already had two bike accidents.

I love Marni and she takes care of me and I hope one day I can be as good at that as she is. Love is so easy now. 

Me: "I think I want to write a song to the tune of "I Fell in Love With a Stripper" but it'd be "I fell in love with a commenter."
Marni: "I think that has too many syllables."

I'm happy. I'm 30 and I'm happy. I haven't needed ambien or xanax for a year. I eat vegetables every day.

I'm sitting on my bed with a laptop and to my right is a notebook and underneath the notebook is Tinkerbell. And to the left is a chair and my backpack and a water bottle and a green tea bottle and a dustbuster and Claritin-D. At the end of my bed are the jeans I was wearing earlier. 

I'm 30 and I'm smart and made a website that really matters to so many people and I'm a good writer and a decent leader and I love you and you love me. I'm 30 and my thoughts are really important and not stupid. I'm 30 and despite what I told you that one time on the boat on the day we set sail, I am not going to die before turning 30. Look at me! I'm still here. And so are you. 


Meghan said...

Happy birthday, Riese. I'm so glad you are happy. Loved the 30 quotes today, also.

katrina dangermouse said...

happy birthday riese! congratulations on having an actual happy one. keep owning it.

katrina dangermouse said...

i want to spam this post so that you don't delete it, but i'm sure that won't be necessary.

Shannon said...

I'm stranger/Straddler (which I suppose means that I'm not quite a stranger) and I'm not as deft and honest and true as you when it comes to these clunky words so I don't think I'll say it properly, but I just wanted to share that this post made my eyes burn and I'm so, so glad you're happy. You and Laneia and all of these amazing people make each day easier, but more than that, you foster a queer community that feels like a night in college on a roof at 3AM, where your world's crazy and scary but as long as there are people who think this way, it's all gonna be fucking stupendous. I think I said in a formspring once to Laneia that Autostraddle made me feel like I could punch a bear, and I can't tell you how much I appreciate the love and sweat and love you give to us every day.

Isa said...

Happy birthday! I'm so glad I found your blog in the middle, but I LOVE being here for the afterward! Knowing you are happy and getting to hear dispatches from that place in your life is a real gift. And yes, you did do all of this, and we love you for it.

T said...

I am so happy that you are happy. And my favorite quote of yours is "Hands down totes Arby's."

jw said...

happy birthday Riese. Cheers to being happy and not being sorry about it.

laura said...

with all the happiness you've brought to so many other people, you deserve to be happy. i'm so happy you let it find you.

happy doesn't sound like a real word anymore.

Deb said...

Happy three- ohhh!!
I remember my 30th much more clearly than my 40, 50, or even 60 year b'day, which was only a couple months ago.
Something about this number 30 is quite powerful.
Riese you are loved by so many people!
Hundreds or thousands of young'uns have more
Joy/sense of belonging/ courage/ contentment
All because of this thing you've done, which it seems
You have decided to own.

So just relax and enjoy everything you've created.

Noura said...

I live continents away, and this, whatever it is you do, still manages to creep up and move me. I feel validated. Happy birthday.

Jen said...

Happy Birthday!! And thank u writing on here again.

Amy said...

You made it! You did it. Congratulations and happy birthday. You deserve it. (=

steph said...

oh so beautiful how you followed your bliss! I'm reading Joseph Campbell now, feeling a need to blaze my own path which has to include some traveling or else! somewhere you knew you would do this all along, I remember. you wanted this and you followed the signs and you worked. it's yours.

Perrine said...

You know, I discovered everything too late to be involved, i read your blog after it was really active, but i am thankful. Being able to write "I am happy" after all the things you wrote before gives me hope. I don't know you but I'm happy for you.
Happy Birthday

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Riese! I am also a stranger/autostraddler. But reading this blog makes me feel like I know you a little bit. It also makes me feel safe somehow. Like I'm not the only one with a brain full of words and a heart that hearts sometimes a lot.

Here is a Bukowski line that "own it" made me think of:

"your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you."

You. Are. MARVELOUS!! <3

mon said...

wooop! happiness is good. happy birthday!

Rachel said...

we all love you so much, and this is going to be a good year. possibly the best year. i can tell.

Haviland said...

I LOVE YOU, RIESLING! I'm so happy to be spending some good time with you this weekend.
Surprise! We are ALIVE!

stranger/straddler said...

Happy birthday Riese - you own it well. I'm happy that you are happy!

Jack said...

welcome to the 30. :) i, too, have found happiness much easier since i turned 30, which is exactly the opposite of what i'd assumed would happen. everything just seems a tinge easier.

and all that's mostly to say: i love when your random blogs pop up. so, thank you. and happy, happy beautiful birthday.

c said...

another stranger-straddler writing to say (belated) happy birthday, your beautiful writing and all your work on autostraddle have been such an inspiration/source of awesomeness for years, and i am so happy you are happy. cheers!

Heather Anne Hogan said...

Happy belated birthday, you magnificent sunbeam of earnestness and truth! The world is truly a better place because you were born.

Natazzz said...

Reading this post made me smile. I'm glad you're happy and Happy belated birthday.

Scissorrunner said...

Hi Riese,

Happy Birthday for the day when it was your birthday.

Just so you know, I was recently on holidays in Vietnam with family - and because I am nerdy/you are awesome - I read your blog from the very beginning. I got up to October 2007 I think, and, you know, you sort of blogged a lot back then. I estimate I must have read nearly 200 posts in a month! Anyway, I would drown in your words, literally, they fill me with ... this weight, and I can't even attribute a feeling to it.

Anyway, I blab. But I did write this in my travel/feelings journal -
"I just lie in bed, watching Youtube clips of Riese and Haviland VLOGS on my tiny tiny phone, trying not to laugh, laughing in silent, trying not to wake grandma; reading Autowin. WIn, win, win. I want to work out lahhh. I would also like to cut my hair short. Can't stop thinking about it."

cgr said...

Im slowly tryng to wean myself off the internets/technology, and also looking at myself in the mirror and marvelling at how lucky I am to have this face, but I legit cannot stop reading your words, and like I love literature, the tangible kind where you can stain the pulp with immediate feelng related reactions to a passage but I cannot stop avoiding things to read yo blogs and such. I have mountains of work and still I read, because with all I know, sometimes I forget like little truths that are so significant and you seem to reming me of these things all ze time. Like that I can find my tribe, strange strange beasts that know where Im coming from and can walk beside me through life. And so thanks, for autostraddle/winning/letting a horde of of sweaty strangers into your orbit

Canadian a. said...

This post made me tear up a little. It all sounds like the last chapter of a wonderful book. I'm so proud of you, internet stranger.
I've been reading your stuff for so long that I have grown along with you. Your writing is like a comfortable worn blanket.

kells said...

<3 you Riese!

Jezzica said...

Happy birthday!!! I am so happy that you are happy...I have been reading this for FOUR YEARS NOW and it's nice to see the grand sweep of time and the upward trajectory of your life!

Sara said...

Hi Riese

Thank you for this post! And I'm so glad that you're happy. I don't know you, not really, only the you that you put out there through your writing - but your writing, and the you that shines through, are incredible. I want to comment on this post because I wanted you to know that yes, there are many people out there who love your writing and missed your posts on this blog. I came across it a long time ago and went back to read everything you'd written, from the start - because your writing just touched and moved me, and felt as though I needed to go back to the start to know the you that you put out there... I've always loved the maturity of your posts - yes, right from the time you started posting. You came across as someone who could think, who had integrity, knew what a good person was and wanted to be one. I read about you trying to do the right thing, about all the experiences that you described, and I felt like I knew you - something of you - and your world, which you wrote about in way that was just captivating and compelling. I felt as though I'd been to the places you described - physical and emotional places. But what I want to say most of all right now, is that through all the posts until this last - less through the years, more in the beginning - I felt a kind of aching unhappiness - maybe it was grief, or depression, or both? Please correct me if I'm wrong. But in this last post - you sounded happy - really happy. Like the beautiful climate of CA, even in the north, after the harder weather of New York. Like coming out into sunshine - and I know that beautiful CA air and sun that make you glad to be alive, that make you want to get up and go out in the morning (I'm thinking of LA right now, but I know the Bay Area too.) As though you've really relaxed, let yourself be happy.

If you put every post you'd ever written in order and made a book, I'd buy it, and order more copies to give to people. I send people links to some of your posts. Your writing is among the most powerful and beautiful that I've ever read (and I was a literature MA, taught language and literature and still do in different ways.) Thank you for sharing your words with us.


Anonymous said...

I want to write to you because every time I read these entries my heart hurts a little bit and Im not sure why. I also think you have done something to be very proud of. You have lightened so many people's lives when they needed you. I needed you and then I found you and then you found me and i wouldnt give that up in a lifetime. Part of me wants you back here, to run through the flooded streets of manhattan and to stomp around Claremont Ave. like your baby-dinosaur-self, but then I know I am just being selfish. You are so happy and I am so happy that you are happy. You also have someone who gets the same answers for scattegories, which makes you guys that much more special and perfect. Congrats for turning older and congrats for finding your xanex-free-self, I couldn't have wished for more.

taylor said...

this made me feel like everything was Okay. i am proud of you for growing into where you are; i understand missing and not missing. i am very happy to hear about the vegetables and happier yet to know that you and m are doing well, because i miss and don't miss you guys, you know what i mean. come visit; let's paint the town red, or a better color than red, maybe green?

riese said...

these comments have made me smile and get tears in my eyes and feel a lot of hope and heart-shaped feelings. i am so lucky to have you.

rchl said...

we do not know each other but i read all your things and you seem like a nice person to know and so i am glad you had a happy birthday. i have commented on autostraddle but never here and i would like you to know that your words are like rain and sun and thunder and pillows and other good things that make me feel certain ways and that mean certain things.

once you said that rooftops made you feel alive because you've never jumped off of them, and that is how i feel every day. when i wait for the subway i'm afraid i'll step in front of it, or when i cross a bridge i know i could jump off but something always makes my muscles stop. you have so much power in that moment. and always, i guess. i am in new york city right now and i was at the top of the new museum looking out and i wanted to take all of new york in my arms and know all of the good and the bad and the beautiful that is inside of it. thank you, yes you, for writing and living until at least age 30 and being happy, and for helping me know why i never jump off.

Maria said...

You know what my first thought was? (And I am taking a cue from you and not censoring anything)...

You remind me of Holden Caulfield all grown up.

But, still aspiring to catch all those kids before they jump.

A catcher in the rye.

sexo en vivo said...

It's my first time to read your blog. Well, I think we have a thing in common. Growing old with young at heart ;) Enjoy and have fun always!

April Rosas said...

"I'm 30 and my thoughts are really important and not stupid."- Never let age hinder you from learning. Knowledge is what allows you to teach others. You have created a wonderful vessel here on which you can share your bright mind. Never stop.

Mercury said...


Nataliiieee said...

i've read this a bit late (like with much in my life) - makes my heart explode for you, my dear. you are here! you are here! you've always been here - the very important, very loving, very wise, very nuanced (and isn't that all we can ask for in this life) woman. the one - the only one - that ever made me feel OK (to be alive) when i felt anything but. thanks for that, mlb. thank you for you. and for all you do for so many of us - in so many ways. happpppppy 30th bday:) love, nar

cyn said...

hey, i've been reading autostraddle for a while now and didn't realize you were the founder. i just knew that i found your glee recaps very funny, and that i liked your satirical and clever writing style. the woman you spoke to is right - that's HUGE. autostraddle filled a gap for a large demographic of queer women that were looking for something a little less MTV than afterellen and a little more edge. i'm 30 years old as well and went the opposite route- law school, mortgage, marriage, etc etc - and i think your work has enormous value, more so than the vast majority of us who took the traditional trajectory, and will pay off in the long run! thanks for the phenomenal contributions you've made to the community by creating a beloved space online for queer ladies and by simply telling our story.

Kate Fraser said...

Riese? I worship you. I'm a writer, how could I not. No need to think I might be a creep or a stalker, and isn't that great?

Anonymous said...

You'll never read this. Hell, what am I even doing here.

I started reading your blog back in 2007, when I'd moved to a different part of the country, started a new career, new life, and everything was terrifying.

You were struggling, I think, but hilarious, and I loved it. You kept me company. I never did anything for you, just absorbed everything you were offering up.

And for some reason, today I thought of you, and looked this up.

I'm happy too.

Thanks dude.

Julia LeBrell said...

"It's okay that I am getting things done in a different order than initially anticipated"

I like this a lot. I live this a lot.

Thank you for all you have done