Dear Marc Maron,
I considered writing you personally, but then you wouldn’t respond and I’d feel terrible for having bared myself to a stranger I’ve projected expectations on. Like you owe me something. Like just because I love your work and it means something profound to me that makes me special or interesting. It makes me regular. Plus, I’m a writer Marc. I’m a creative. I’ve spent my life trying to make something. I want to be seen. Which is why people latch on to famous people because if they can be seen by their heroes then it validates them.
Anyway, I usually stop myself from actually believing my hero will see me, respect me, like me. But you’re different. (Deep breath. I know I’ll sound crazy. Here I go anyway.) When I first heard of you, years ago, I made a point to avoid you. It’s like when you meet someone and you think, “Oh Jesus. I’m about to fall into this person’s orbit and something’s gonna change. A shift will happen.” I’m scared. I hate change. I also hate not being in control and not understanding things. We’re alike. Right. Which doesn’t make me special. But this is more than that. Paulo Cohelo has a book, it’s a weird story about a warlock and a witch.
In each life they take on different forms and always find themselves drawn back together. Because, in the beginning, they were one person. They, along with two others, splintered off from the same self and the four keep coming together life after life trying to make a whole again. It doesn’t really work as a story. You have to make some serious logic leaps to go along. And a lot of times I feel his writing is him just trying to work out his own spiritual questions, which get weirder and weirder the older he gets. Like McCain before his brain surgery. He was still himself, but trying to follow his off-the-wall rant about Hillary during the Comey hearing was like falling down the rabbit hole. I felt awful after finding out he had a brain tumor. I had a good Twitter joke about a Life Alert Spokesman. That got a lot of likes and RT’s. That’s the thing about social media. It makes you feel good about being a jerk. For some reason everyone likes a jerk.
So there’s more.
I avoided you, your comedy, your podcast. Nevertheless, you were in the ethos. Somehow you got in. Especially when Obama came to your garage. I downloaded your podcast to listen to it, but I didn’t.
Instead I listened to the Judge John Hodgeman Show. He’s so wonderful, insightful, funny, soft, but biting. Isn’t he? He’s someone I know I’d be friendly with. But, he’s not enough like me to scare me. I could just enjoy his person as an other and not think too much about it.
So what changed? Glow. And there you were. And I thought, “OK, this is fine. I can do this now because he’s not playing himself. He’s acting. How much truth can be there? I mean, there’s acting truth, but that’s not the same as honest-to-god, here I am as myself, truth.” I studied acting for ten years. Got my undergrad in it. So, I know.
I’m listening to your show now and everything I feared is happening. Instincts are a strange thing. Like the first email I received from my husband. I just knew he was it. I was done dating. Like the college I got into even though I didn’t have the grades or SAT scores. Got in on probation because they liked my essay. How’s that for strong writing? OK, but I’m not successful, so there’s a lot of untapped potential. I’m working on it. Finally. And so that’s the thing. I don’t think I could listen to you, which is to say, really know you (you put so much of your truth into your work) until I was ready to deal with my own truth.
I’m jealous of you, Marc. Jealous of what you’ve been able to accomplish by being yourself. And with every blog post you write and podcast you create you are more you than you were the time before. I don’t think I’m imagining that. So I latched on. And I need to be around truth-tellers right now. Because most people you meet in life will never be that honest. People use words to obfuscate their truth. How’s that for a word? It’s too big for this letter, but I’m not cutting it. The editor inside is saying, “Don’t go academic! Stay real!” Well, what if I’m both at the same time? What if that’s just who I am and I don’t have to be one way or the other? I’m figuring these things out right now. And listening to you has given me permission to do so.
And so there it is. The shift I mentioned fearing at the start of this letter. I came from a pretty strict religious place. I was a Republican when I could vote and a Christian when I could breathe. All that meant was that I spent my developmental years striving for an identity defined by Biblical teachings. Whatever that means. But finding out who you are when you leave behind everything you thought you were… I don’t know. It’s dizzying. Every time I start to talk about it again I lose sight of my original idea. The guilt I feel at leaving. The shame I carry about being an atheist. And so there it is. I say it and each time it feels like coming out of the closet anew. Terrifying. I’ll be stoned. Shamed. Kicked out of polite society. Doomed to wander with the worst of God’s rejected creation forever. And what if there is a God? There might be. I’m not foreclosing on that possibility. What I’ve seen just doesn’t prove it out, yet.
So the shift. The truth. Here it is. There you are. Here I am. Weird, huh? This happened one other time. Hunter Thompson. God, his work brought my writing back to me. For several years there I read and re-read everything and I learned that I could write like I thought and it could be good. And I got published in several big places. One of my articles went viral! I got on TV! 15 minutes. Lighting in a bottle. Since then, which is to say 2014, I’ve been wallowing in fear, paralyzed by the idea of success. Just stuck. Only writing here, on my blog. And hating myself. And mad at everyone. Especially you. Well, the existential crisis you bring. Really I love you. Not in love with you, but love what you’re doing in the world, love that you’re on this planet, changing it. Like The Mad Hatter and Alice in Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland. They have this intimate friendship that’s totally platonic. I’ve watched and re-watched those films to understand that dynamic. I think there’s just a deep kind of friend love that exists sometimes. Rarely. As rare as true romantic love. And it can exist between a straight man and woman. Well, this is pretty one-sided so I’ll never have to worry about the weirdness of having admitted it to your face. Once you say true stuff to a person it’s always there and you never know if the other person gets it like you meant it and maybe you don’t even know if you meant it the way you said it or if you’re still hiding something.
Anyway, that’s what being a fan is, isn’t it? You project a certain kind of love onto your hero and it’s pure. You never have to worry about the fractured darkness of the actual person. Which I know you have because I see you. Us knowing each other in real life probably wouldn’t be good. Too much of the same. It makes for shifting boundaries. Too intense.
Like this letter for instance. Because I’m baring my soul.
That’s what I want to do. I want my truth to help others understand themselves and the world. I’ve always thought it was a dumb idea. Naive. Silly. Idealistic. Overly sincere. Who makes money doing that? I don’t understand money. I’m terrible with it. I don’t know how to make it and if I do I usually can’t keep it. So I’ve always doubted my art and hated my own creative process. I think you get that. You said you don’t spend your money. Your bathroom door is still broken. Which is like your thing you subconsciously taunt pretty Hollywood people with. I think. Or it’s a test to see if they’ve listened to your show because if they have they’ll stop at the Starbuck’s on the way to your place to pee. If I’m ever famous enough to get invited to your place, I’ll have stopped at the Starbuck’s to pee. I like you man, but that’s just not the kind of thing we need to share.
So that’s it. I’m off. Boomer lives. Actually, I hate that sign off you use. It’s dumb and repetitive and glib. But I just say I hate it because I’ve bared my soul and feel like I have to tell you something I don’t like about what you do. It’s human. Deep down we’re all jealous assholes. Or, at least I am.