Elizabeth Wurtzel filed a long, rambling confession over at New York this week, entitled Elizabeth Wurtzel Confronts Her One Night Stand of a Life. You’ll have to read it if you expect to follow along, but the gist is this: Elizabeth Wurtzel 1) had a crazy landlord this year, 2) women who don’t pay their own way are prostitutes and 3) there’s no such thing as happiness (?).
Peppered throughout are reminders of the Ivy League schools she’s attended, successes she’s enjoyed as a published author, fancy designer bags she’s purchased, and the assurance that her body is as firm and taut as it was in her teens… and yet, she asserts, happiness is an untruth. Convention is a lie we tell ourselves.
Editors Jennifer Wright and Ashley Cardiff will now try really hard to parse this.
Jennifer: So, Elizabeth Wurtzel’s piece seems to spend a very, very long time talking about how she is unhappy before concluding: “But this is it for me. I am a free spirit. I do not know any other way to be. No one else seems to live as I do. In a world gone wrong, a pure heart is dangerous.” Whereupon, I laughed out loud. What about the fact that you don’t want to hold down a job or a relationship qualifies you for a pure heart badge?
Ashley: Maybe she means buying a $10,000 handbag?
Jennifer: Oh, yes, she bought a Birkin! That’s right. That was pretty pure. She also seems to spend most of the day Googling herself, which seems very brave.
Ashley: I’m sorry. I still have no idea what I just read. Can we step back a second and you can, maybe, explain it to me? At first glance, it seems like it’s about her being harassed by her landlord (who stole the aforementioned $10,000 handbag) but then it’s about how happiness is a lie? I don’t understand what’s going on, Jennifer. And at first I was really excited, too, because I love a good crazy landlord story.
Jennifer: I know, but that didn’t happen, did it? Not really. That would have been a story. Maybe one with some chuckles in it.
Ashley: How does she know that her landlord stole her Birkin? What does this have to do with her being unhappy, but also free?
Jennifer: So, in essence, Elizabeth Wurtzel is unhappy. Frankly, I think everyone but the village idiot suffers from a deep unknowable sadness, so I don’t think this makes someone a terribly unique little snowflake. Honestly, I assume everyone around me is depressed. It seems like a rational response to the human condition. I do not think that this is particularly brave or interesting, but, fine. I would probably read piece about being sad. Maybe I will write a piece called “Sadness.” You know what I think is brave?
Ashley: I can guess.