a sign-off

I was going to wait to post this on Thursday, but, well, I have zero chill. Negative chill. It’s summer but I am below freezing constantly, that’s how little chill I have.

It’s hard to say goodbye to something that has brought so much to my life, something that has grown beyond an hour-long weekly podcast that became a part of my Thursday morning routine: trying to grapple with my own struggles while I listened to two very compassionate, empathetic, learning and growing people grapple with their own. It became a moment each week where I confronted the fact that the road that we call life is long, and winding, and hard, but those things don’t make it any less worth walking. Even more so with people you care about.

I think a lot about a day I had last fall, walking around on a crisp afternoon during my lunch break, having just finished up a backlogged Interrobang episode. The scope of the particular episode meandered back and forth through friendships: toxic ones, trying to keep that bridge built when the other person would just let it fall apart. I know it’s cliche to describe things as “clicking into place”, but in that moment, I realized a key component in my life that was actively making me miserable, and decided to finally do something about it.

This podcast–this ongoing conversation–helped me take steps to take care of myself. It helped me realize things about myself; helped me understand that I still need to grow, still need to keep trying. That I will screw up in all of those things, but I will stand up and keep going when that happens.

Ever since I graduated from college, the shows that I listen to and the communities I’ve become a part of have been a rallying cry for myself and my friends–something we can all gather around in the hectic whirlwind of our lives. I’m so wonderfully lucky to have a group of amazing people who, when I approach them with “hey, you wanna take a road trip to Cincinnati to see a live show for a podcast you’ve never listened to but I talk about all the dang time?” respond “hell yeah, when do we leave?” and “I’m gonna make matching back patches for our jackets. Bedazzled ones.” That road trip still means so, so much to me: driving down I-71, screaming along to “Stacy’s Mom” as we pass the infamous “Hell is Real” sign (bless Alex for capturing that moment it all of its glory), having drinks and the most amazing barbecue wings I’ve ever eaten in my life at a bourbon house in downtown Cincinnati as I cry while telling my friends how much I love them, meeting so many lovely and caring people in one small span of time, watching two friends crack jokes, have serious conversation, and say things that resonated with the crowd on a deep level. Everything about that day was electric. I couldn’t help but beam as my friends and I finally collapsed in our hotel room late that night, still laughing and soaking in the energy of that theater, those people, the city.

I’ve always expressed my compassion and thanks to people through art. It’s who I am, an innate part of me that I can’t detach or separate. I can’t say enough how absolutely humbled and honored I feel to have been able to contribute to something that has brought so much self-growth to light for me, and has shown me that I still have so much growing to do. (It is also extremely surreal to see my terrible cursive handwriting on a sticker. Because, uh, that’s about as neat as my cursive ever gets.)

At the February live show, I was able to ask a question to Travis and Tybee; or, rather, pose a topic of discussion as I meandered through my explanation of the ouroboros of frustration that I felt (and, honestly, still feel) in my own life: of knowing things take time but being frustrated in the moment now, and being frustrated because I knew all I had was the moment, but if I knew why was I frustrated, et cetera, et cetera. I relisten to that bit a lot: Travis nailing how I was feeling dead-on in a way that didn’t quite hit me until the Monday after when I was sitting at my desk back at work, the jovial “You’ll feel that way till you die!” that caused all of us to burst into laughter, Tybee’s anecdote about cataloging moments for reflection, the humble wisdom of “divine Tybee” and “zen Travis”. It’s almost surreal to have that moment bottled up, to listen back to and think about how I felt then and how I feel now, think about how people came up to me after the show and thanked me for volunteering my frustration because they felt that way too, or had been there before and empathized with me. I listen back to that episode and think about walking back to the hotel with my three best friends in the entire world, a little fuzzy from gin and champagne, the too-warm-for-late-February air whipping down the quiet streets of Cincinnati, present in the most serene way.

The most important thing this show has done for me is help me to be more comfortable with the person I am, the person I truly know myself to be. Tybee and Travis’ honest conversations have helped me fight that anxiety that continually tries to convince me that I’m “too much”: too sincere, too sentimental, too sensitive, too talkative, so on and so on. But the fact of the matter is that’s who I am. I write long, mushy blog posts about podcasts or comics or tv shows or books, I gush about my friends on Twitter and in person because they mean the absolute world to me and are the reason I make art, I care so dang much and I don’t want to be quiet about it. And all of that is ok. Because it’s me, and I shouldn’t feel ashamed of that.

I struggled for a while to write this the right way, because I couldn’t quite find the words that felt like encompassed the whole of the gift that this podcast has given me. The closest I can get is catharsis, and I think that’s pretty dang powerful, at least for me.

I feel more comfortable in not having all of the answers because of Interrobang. In letting things settle and percolate before approaching them again. In understanding that sometimes I might just not have the words. In living in the moment, and knowing sometimes it’s alright if the moment isn’t great, because this is just one moment, and there are countless more down the line.

That’s the thing about moments, both good and bad and everything in between. They end, and then a new one begins.

I’ve had the opportunity to meet both Travis and Tybee: at Candlenights last year, at the February Interrobang live show, and despite this I don’t know if I’ll ever feel like I’ve said thank you enough. They’ve been the direct reason for some of the most amazing moments in my life in the past year, and are also two of the kindest people I’ve ever met. I can’t wait to see what new projects and new moments will lead from this one.

So, thank you both. Thank you for this show, for your honesty, for your openness. Thank you for being a catalyst for self-reflection for me, for moments of clarity. Thank you.