Dear Darling Ones,
It’s my birthday today. I made it to fifty. You better be impressed by my longevity. I’m impressed, and nothing impresses me. It takes a ridiculous amount of hard work to be a human this long. The past two years have made it even harder. Hell, the past two weeks haven’t been a real treat for any of us, have they?
Most years, when I have some money to spare, I buy myself a birthday present, a little treat for continuing to exist.
This year I was going to buy a myself a new mattress, but I forgot. I was also going to steal my friend Karlyn’s idea. For her fiftieth birthday she sent thank you cards to all the important people in her life. It was the kindest, most thoughtful, impressive thing ever. I forgot about that until today too.
I blame this uncharacteristic forgetfulness on the weird feelings about this milestone birthday and not on some sort of early-onset dementia.
Worry not, Darling Ones, I did get myself a gift. I could not let this very special golden anniversary of my life go uncelebrated.
For my birthday I bought myself Frightened Rabbit’s “Midnight Organ Fight” and “Pedestrian Verse” on vinyl. I will not bore you with the trials & tribulations of obtaining these records, mostly because it makes me look super stupid (only because I was super stupid). It is zero exaggeration to say these records saved my life.
During the very darkest days of the interminable, lonely winter of 2021 I listened to “Midnight Organ Fight” every night as I was falling asleep. For months. Many, many months in a row. During that winter I went five and a half weeks without seeing anybody. I have never wanted so much to be dead in my entire life. My existence seemed pointless. I felt superfluous to everyone, to earth. Who would even notice? I could slip off this mortal coil without so much as a blip on anyone’s radar.
Two things kept me alive, the good rest I got from “Midnight Organ Fight” lulling me to sleep and my unwillingness to actually do anything to make the dead part happen. I wanted to be dead. I didn’t want to kill myself. This seems like kind of an important distinction to me. Fuck if I know.
Spoiler Alert: I’m not dead. This is not the ghost of Jodi typing to you from the great beyond. I’m alive and kicking and mildly annoyed about how Sister #4 refuses to take her birthdate off Facebook thereby alerting our entire family that is also my birthday. Rude.
I’m pretty pleased at my continued existence, and pretty horrified at how dark it got inside my brain for awhile.
While I was in the midst of the deep dark winter my friend, who introduced me to Frightened Rabbit, said at one point, “I kind of regret telling you about them. I hate that you listen to such sad songs every night all by yourself.” I explained how when all hope is gone, sad songs say so much. If someone else is suffering enough oh to write it down, when every single word makes sense, then it’s easier to have those songs around.**
In the header image for this letter, I chose a lyric from “Heads Roll Off.” While, it’s not my favorite it felt appropriate for this post about my birthday, continuing existence, and whether or not that even matters.
When you reach fifty you realize that your chance to take the world by storm has probably passed, and that’s okay. I’m okay with only making tiny changes to earth, to be someone people only think about once in awhile. When that happens, it is pure joy. I had it happen a few times recently.
A friend shared a video of Orville Peck covering “Can’t Hardly Wait” with me. Another one included me in a tweet by saying “that’s one of Jodi’s pet peeves.”
And most significantly I got a text from my friend Ray out of the blue. He was at a bar we used to frequent in the mid-90s. He said, “Only been here three times in the last 25 years, but I always think of you and I sitting in this booth back in the day.” That text alone was a very excellent birthday gift.
Those are all tiny changes I made.
So that’s the very long story of why I bought myself some excellent records for my birthday. The whole time I was hunting down “Midnight Organ Fight” for a price I was willing to pay (which, admittedly is not very much because ya girl is occasionally broke and all the time cheap) I had a scene in “High Fidelity” running through my head. The one where he says, “Fetish properties are not unlike porn. I’d feel guilty taking their money, if I wasn’t… well… kinda one of them.”
Happy birthday to me,
P.S. Last week I reupped the iwilldare.com domain for another five years. You’re welcome, Darling Ones.
*It’s my birthday. I can make up words if I want.
**I did not actually sing this song to him, but thank you, Elton John.