Hi there! Before diving into this week’s issue, I have some very exciting news to share with y’all! Later this week, we’re launching a companion column to Rebooting on Wirecutter, my employer’s site. It won’t be a direct clone of what you’ll read here, but it’ll offer the meat and potatoes of each issue. If you’ve got a loved one who might enjoy the newsletter, but doesn’t want to be blasted with my personal ramblings every two weeks, you can send them straight to Wirecutter. I’m delighted to see where this goes, and want to give a huge thank you to all of y’all for continuing to read and support Rebooting. Have a lovely week, and be well. - Jordan
Most of my friends are familiar with Petty Jordan. He doesn’t come out much these days, and when he does it’s usually limited to cheeky jokes that get across that I’ve been slightly bruised. It wasn’t always that harmless, though. Just ask my middle school bully, Stephan.
If you’ve never attended Catholic school, it’s a tumultuous drag of being lectured by teachers who would rather tell you to cut your hair and give you detention for coming to school with an iPod than help you with algebra. At the small school I attended, there was a small pool to choose your friends from. Unfortunately for the two of us, Stephan and I latched onto the same clique.
We’d never liked each other, but sixth grade was when it switched from slight digs to full-blown bullying. It started with mocking the amount of leg hair I had for a 12-year-old (it was a lot!). Yeah, I hated it and it made me want to melt into a pile of self-deprecating sludge, but I was dealing with bigger hardships at the time, so it was easier for me to brush off his comments. That stopped when he shouted a jab about my relationship with my father that went way too far. At that point, I didn’t even care about getting even, I cared about winning and making Stephan, in all his chuckly blockheadedness, the sludgeball for once.
I started small, targeting Stephan’s tremendous fear of bugs. I told my dad I needed a bag of toy bugs for a science project, and slowly dropped different bugs into my number one nemesis’s life: in his backpack, onto his shoulder, in his desk, anywhere that would make him jump and shriek in a room full of people. Today, that would be too far for me, but at the time, he wasn’t squirming enough for 12-year-old Petty Jordan. So I told Stephan it would be hilarious if he ran up to my friend from behind and tackled him in the dirt; as he approached Josh, who knew what was happening, I ran to the principal and told her to look at what Stephan was doing. After a loud whistle blow and a louder chant of “YOOOOOOO” from Mrs. Kwader, Stephan spent the next several days in the detention chair.
I turned to even more drastic measures. One day at lunch, Stephan and I begrudgingly plopped next to each other on the last open seats at our group’s table. When he got up to go to the bathroom, I dug through his lunch box, opened up the Dole fruit cup I found as Stephan approached the table, and slowly slid it underneath him as he sat down. I’m not sure what sound he made, but it’s what I’d imagine a ghost (the Boo! kind, not the Haunting of Hill House kind) would sound like if it had just stubbed its toe and fallen into a pile of goo. Once he’d realized what had happened, he grabbed my lunchbox and tossed it against the wall. Again, I get it. But I didn’t expect Mrs. Salems, our lunch monitor, to see him and give him sweeping duties. While Stephan spent his lunch hour sweeping dirt and rocks away from the eating area, I spent mine kicking those same dirt and rocks back onto the freshly-swept ramada while chuckling “missed a spot.”
I’m almost 28 now, and treating people like I did at 12 is how you end up with no friends (or as the CEO of a company); I’m not interested in either. Still, those petty impulses aren’t totally gone, even if they no longer involve sneaking fruit cups under someone’s seat. Sometimes I still need to let out some snark. For those times, I turn to my journaling app, where my Private Twitter lives.
The journaling app Day One is a beautifully designed way to get your thoughts out in private. It supports multiple journals, which I use for things like three positive affirmations a day, saving sweet texts from friends, writing a gratitude log, and musing about my day. I have one called Personal Twitter, which acts as a brain dump for Petty Jordan. Whenever I feel like subtweeting my professional nemesis, making an unnecessary dig about an ex, want to make a dumb joke that wouldn’t be funny to anyone but me, or am itching to broadcast a dig about the neighbor I have to let in every time he forgets his keys, I open up Day One and write it straight into my journal. It doesn’t give me the satisfaction of the perfect comeback, but it does get it out of my system so I can move on with my day; if it’s that important, I can find a better way to say it.
If, unlike me, you don’t have a petty side lurking beneath the surface that needs to be tamed, journaling has other great benefits too. It can improve your memory, give you more perspective on everything from the mundane to the traumatic, and just make you a generally more mindful person. Last year, Haley Phelan wrote about how journaling drastically improved her life over the course of two years, helping her relieve anxiety, sleep better, and get in touch with her real desires.
It’s true, the benefits of journaling may not be entirely tangible, but I can say it’s made my life notably better, too. When I was exiting an abusive relationship, I started using journaling to collect my thoughts whenever I felt my anxiety start to creep up and overwhelm me. Since then, I’ve been able to catch myself when I’m getting too into my own head. I’m starting to remember more of what happens throughout my day, and I’m able to focus more on the good things that happen throughout, rather than the dingus who cut me off and left my life three seconds later.
In the News:
Behavioral Therapy, One Tarot Card at a Time (The New York Times): A few months ago, my life hit a breaking point. A friend suggested going to a nearby lounge where they do tarot readings for some guidance. I went into it with two questions, one personal, and one professional. On both counts, what the cards told me were on point with what I was dealing with, and helped give me insight into what was really happening and how I could navigate it. Since then I’ve been doing my own tarot readings, and I’ve learned to approach it more like Jessica Dore does, as Sandra E. Garcia writes in this piece, approaching tarot readings as a means of psychological insight rather than full-on spiritual guidance. And whether or not you believe in this stuff, it can be refreshing to have someone else make sense of your situation and give you a sense of where you need to go next.
How to Make the Internet Less Depressing (Lifehacker): The Internet can be a nasty, mean place, and without some attention it’ll easily knock you down. But it’s a necessity for most of us, and some of my most lovely friendships had their starts online. So, it’s important to find healthy ways to foster the interactions with the people we care about, and that goes beyond simply hitting a ‘Like’ button to let your partner know you think they’re hot. Nick Douglas recommends typing up a positive comment for every post you give a big ol’ heart to, arguing that it helps bring a little positivity to your and your pal’s day. We could all use a little more of that.
Don’t Worry Baby: Okay, so you’re probably overwhelmed with the number of newsletters hitting your inbox every morning (thank you for letting this be one of them!), but Pia Ceres’s newsletter is a delightful look at the things that trouble us. Her first issue is all about career envy, and how it affects everyone from budding journalists to thriving CEO’s, plus she shares a few things that help get her through the week. If you could use a good digital hug, Don’t Worry Baby is a great source.
As always, if you have any questions, feedback, or just want to say hello, feel free to drop me a line on Twitter.
My thanks to Medea Giordano for editing this issue.