by Katie Baker.
3:45 A.M. Wake up, confused, in Max’s Washington, D.C. apartment. The overhead light is on and Max, still sleeping next to me, is wearing all of his clothes. What?
Then I remember that we fell asleep around midnight after getting dinner with his friends. I was exhausted because the night before I had a comically bad Amtrak experience involving a four-hour delay and a 1:30 AM transfer to another train that looked like the back end of Snowpiercer. As in, the doors were FROZEN OVER and the vestibules were literally packed with snow. My long distance relationship is logistically complicated enough.
I take a photo of Max because he looks cute before I turn the light off. I don’t try and wake Max up even though he is wearing jeans because he looks so peaceful and also because he yells at me in his sleep when I try to talk to him, or sometimes even if I don’t. Most recently, according to the running list I keep on my phone, he woke me up to say, apropos of nothing: “I like how you think, Grandma!” And “There’s a lot to discuss! All of it!”
9:07 A.M. Wake up for real. Read texts from my mother, who is in Vietnam visiting my little brother. “Hi any interest in a large nylon colored longchamps tote bag knock off? They sell them here for 15 dollars and they look real. You have to tell me within the next two hours or forever hold your peace.” That last text was sent at 6:09 AM my time. Guess I missed the cutoff!
Very bizarre. I have never, EVER wanted a Longchamp bag, not even in middle school when I was terrorized by spoiled tweens who favored clean-cut accessories. In eighth grade, this girl once publicly shamed me by pointing out that my cherry-print Kate Spade wallet was fake because “Kate Spade doesn’t make wallets in that print.” She was right. Anyway, if I could afford it I’d buy this Zana Bayne black pentagram handbag, so it’s like my mom DOESN’T EVEN KNOW ME. I text back “no thanks!”
My mother also sends me a photo of glowing lanterns and another one of my brother and dad sitting by a temple without any context. I miss them.
9:15 A.M. Max wakes up. We discuss last night (dinner = fun, falling asleep in his clothes at midnight = weird) and what we should do today. Pretty much all we’ve done every winter Saturday is cook elaborate meals for our friends—carnitas, key lime pie, these unnecessarily fussy lamb meatballs rolled in sesame seeds that I stuck on toothpicks, which I loved but few people ate—but today I feel like I need to move around in a disciplined setting. Odd, since I haven’t gone to the gym since…November? I decide to go to a Pilates class around the corner at 11:30 and immediately feel lithe and wholesome, which means we can stay in bed a little longer.
9:35 AM: Max and I watch last Sunday’s episode of The Jinx, a documentary (kind of?) about Robert Durst, a billionaire real estate heir who has maybe (definitely?) murdered three people. We’re obsessed with it, and also with repeating lines to each other in Robert Durst’s gravelly voice while aggressively blinking. “OF COURSE I SHAVED MY EYEBROWS OFF! THAT’S HOW YOU DISGUISE YOURSELF!”
While we watch, I think about the conversation I had with Durga a few days ago about why The Jinx bothers her: She thinks it downplays violence against women. I didn’t even consider that before I talked to her, and this definitely isn’t the first time I’ve felt guilty about consuming media as a reporter first, “person” second, so I try to watch the episode more critically. Okay, the music video-y intro montage set to scenes of dying women isn’t my favorite, but without going into ~spoiler~ territory I don’t really agree that the show downplays the allegations against him. I’m also just so fascinated by the fact that Durst agreed to participate and why he did and how the show plays peoples’ memories and agendas off each other, including his. It’s unfair, maybe, that this is his story and not the story of the women he may have killed, but that’s the cold truth of it: they’re not here to talk to us because this eerily powerful, probably sociopathic man has gotten his way his entire life, and this access to him on camera is like nothing I’ve ever seen, as a reporter or otherwise. This is probably extremely boring to read if you haven’t watched it yet, so I’ll stop, but I recommend you do.
With that said, Durga is probably right.
10:46 A.M. We finally get up and Max makes me breakfast using the only groceries in the house: scrambled eggs with peas and parmesan, not half-bad. Before I run down the street to my class and he goes to the gym, we congratulate ourselves on being healthy adults. Then we agree to make spaghetti carbonara and drink wine when we get back from bettering ourselves because neither of us can help being instinctively disdainful of people who prioritize their health.
11:40 A.M. Stretching, struggling, having trouble focusing on what the instructor is saying because my feet are so disgusting. There are glittery remnants of, no kidding, my New Year’s Eve pedicure on my big toe and calluses within calluses within calluses on my pinkie toes, like the circles inside tree stumps. I remind myself to breathe and be present, etc. but that is hard for me. I didn’t go back to yoga for nearly five years after one instructor kept calling positions “spicy.”
I feel ridiculous rolling back and forth while holding onto my gross feet but by the time the hour is up I can stand up taller and touch my toes with ease and feel in touch with my body in a way I haven’t really felt all winter. I text Kat to tell her exactly that because I tell Kat about everything I do.
12:42 P.M. I decide to continue self-caring and go get a pedicure down the block. On the way there, I remember that this is the day I agreed to write an “Enormous Eye.” I consider pretending I forgot (Sorry, Amy!), because it makes me really nervous to write about myself, and also all I’ve really done today so far is go to PILATES, which is not a very accurate representation of what my Saturdays are all about. Also, who cares? Won’t it be embarrassing to write this as if people care? I ask Kat what she thinks and she says she thinks it’s “nbd either way,” i.e., caring about whether people will care is lamer than just doing what I said I would do, so I’ll do it. I should probably start making decisions without asking Kat first but it’s hard because she can often pinpoint how and what I’m feeling better than I do. It’s magical.
1:45 P.M. This pedicure is taking forever. Well, it turned into a manicure-pedicure, but still. I feel guilty about spending so much time in a nail salon, especially because Max is almost done cooking us lunch but I also feel awesome and so I focus on that because I’ve probably spent more time feeling guilty about wasting time than I’ve spent sitting in traffic, and I grew up in Los Angeles.
1:46 P.M. OMG that Awl piece about the woman who wishes she worked at BuzzFeed is so sad. I feel grossed out but mostly by the people who feel the need to tweet about her piece than the piece itself, which was clearly not a joke to the writer. I also feel a little self-congratulatory because, although, yes, I do work there, I don’t feel like I contribute to the New York/internet media landscape/status angst/whatever that made her feel so shitty about herself. I never even look at Twitter anymore? Also, I’m currently in D.C., on a tree-lined street in lovely Mount Pleasant where no one cares about the even sadder tweets I’m skimming through about this sad, sad story! It has no relevance to my life!
1:48 P.M Haha Max totally tweeted about the piece and now we are somehow ALREADY texting about it while I walk the two blocks from the nail salon to his apartment, so scratch that.
1:50 P.M I walk into the kitchen and have a very dumb two-minute argument with Max about the Awl piece and I can hear myself getting defensive (“I’m NOT part of the New York media complex, at least not the gross part, wahhhh!”) so I go take a shower. IDK, man. I love my job and feel so incredibly lucky to have it because I get to travel around the country reporting on issues I care about. It’s a dream. I try to ignore all “media criticism” because it’s almost always just other people projecting their own insecurities, as well as “media twitter” because that makes me feel like I’m back in middle school with the girls who called me out for my fake Kate Spade wallet. I try to just work really hard at getting better at reporting and hang out with people who might be writers, too, but are friends first.
2:05 P.M I detangle my hair while Max sets the table and then we eat the spaghetti he made which is sooooo good and drink a bottle of Vinho Verde, which has a very low alcohol content and is basically like 7-UP for adults. I’m pretty sure I stole that line from Max who stole it from the EIC of Bon Appetit, but it’s true. It tastes like summer. We eat all the pasta and scrape the cheesy-egg residue from the bowl and giggle a lot.
3:00 P.M. We drink more wine in bed and do other things and Max falls asleep. I consider working on a complicated story that’s giving me trouble but decide to finish Bluets by Maggie Nelson instead. I braid my hair so I can lie down without it forming into a brittle haystack and am very, very cozy.
3:25 P.M Max told me to wake him up after 25 minutes but when I try and he doesn’t respond I don’t try much harder because I know if he wakes up he’ll feel stressed about being in bed so late and I really don’t want to get up.
4:31 P.M Max wakes up and that is exactly what happens. But I convince him that we’re allowed to hang around in bed if we want to and we open a second bottle of Vinho Verde and he starts reading this very long book about the Congo that he’s been reading for months and loves, in part because it’s so dense. One of the first things Max told me when we met was that he thought it was important to read very boring books. I disagree and love Doris Lessing on the subject:
“There is only one way to read, which is to browse in libraries and bookshops, picking up books that attract you, reading only those, dropping them when they bore you, skipping the parts that drag — and never, never reading anything because you feel you ought, or because it is part of a trend or a movement. Remember that the book which bores you when you are twenty or thirty will open doors for you when you are forty or fifty — and vice versa. Don’t read a book out of its right time for you.”
I finish Bluets. I’m not sure how I feel about it. I don’t think it will stick with me, but I also think it might be one of those books that seeps in and surprises you with its permanence in your brain.
5:24 P.M. Sarah texts me a photo I took of her exactly one year ago when we went to New Orleans during Mardi Gras. It sounds ridiculous, but we actually didn’t plan to be there during Mardi Gras! It was the coldest Mardi Gras in 100 years. In the photo she is standing under a tree weighed down with beads in front of the Columns Hotel. She asks me if she can post it on Facebook (both of us have an uneasy relationship with social media, so we always ask each other before posting photos. Sarah is one of my most thoughtful friends) but then realizes she can’t tag me because I am GONE! I wrote a story last month about men’s right’s activists and didn’t feel like dealing with hate mail so changed my Facebook name to Elena Ferrante because I thought that was a funny solution. But then I couldn’t change my URL, which includes my full name, so I deactivated my account completely. Now Facebook won’t let me change my name back for 60 days.
5:55 P.M. I tell Max I’ve never eaten lamb chops (I’ve only been eating red meat for the past six years, so there are still gaps) so we decide to take a walk to the grocery store and make them. I put on my favorite outfit: a tie-dyed kimono, a black shift dress, Doc Marten platforms that look like Spice Girl shoes, and a tangle of jewelry. We are both spacey and sleepy so the trip takes a while, probably because two bottles of wine with low alcohol content is still two bottles of wine.
7:12 P.M. We make martinis in hopes they will “wake us up” and cook lamb chops with a pistachio-green olive tapenade I found on Smitten Kitchen while listening to Makthaverskan, a Swedish post-punk band whose name apparently loosely translates to “powerful women.” Max tells me that they are vocal about not identifying as feminists and that his coworker thinks that’s because Swedes are so ahead of us that they’re currently pursuing a “feminist foreign policy,” whatever that means. I say maybe it’s because when journalists ask young women if they’re feminists—I HATE this trend sososo much—they often ask in a misleading way and then edit their responses so as to catch them in a trap. Either way, they have a song where they yell “fuck you for fucking me,” so that’s cool.
9:32 P.M. We are so full and sleepy. So weird how the martinis did not wake us up! We are supposed to go to a party and consider not going but decide to because Max really likes the host. Also I feel like I need something more exciting to write about for what I’ve started calling “The Saturday That No One Cares About.” At the time we both thought this title was really funny but in retrospect we were just drunk.
10:03 P.M There is still so much snow out, even though it’s the last night before Daylight Savings. I tell Max I hate snowball fights because I hate both spontaneous physical exertion and whimsy. We discuss whether the moon is waxing or waning; he’s right. I get a text from my other friend Sarah who I haven’t seen in a while asking whether I’m going to a birthday party in New York tonight that all my friends are at and feel consoled that I’m not totally forgotten even though I’m never in town.
10:33 P.M I hate parties in D.C. because no one thinks I’m funny or cool here. No one likes my shtick! Which I think is basically “gesticulating over-sharer.” Also, I don’t have any powerful political connections.
The apartment is super nice, though. The email invite reminded guests that it was “shoes off” so everyone is wearing matching socks (mine are red plaid). There’s a cool chess table that looks like it belongs in a museum and a ladder leading up to a mysterious lofted area and also Costco brand frozen spanakopita and pigs in a blanket, which make me wish I hadn’t just eaten dinner.
11:17 P.M. I get into a heated argument (why) about Title IX (whyy?) with a woman who works at the State department (whyyyyy). It escalates so quickly I’m actually confused? She keeps saying, “The thing is…” which is a obnoxiously definitive way to start a sentence. It’s frustrating because I would love to have an engaging conversation with someone at this party but she seems more intent on yelling at me as so to “win,” which is unfortunate for her because I am a very good arguer and also write about Title IX for a living.
Eventually there is a stalemate and I try and draw the conversation back to her by asking her what the difference is between ISIS and ISIL, since that’s what I overheard her talking about before. She’s not having it and is so desperate to stop talking to me that she literally grabs onto someone who walks by. Smooth move: I’ve certainly done it before. I go eat spanakopita and wait until Max is ready to leave a few minutes later.
12:02 A.M. I don’t remember how it happens, but despite my on-the-record disdain for snowball fights Max and I get into a major one during the 20 minute walk home. We are giggling and smearing each other with snow and stuffing it down each other’s jackets and smushing it into each other’s hair.
12:37 A.M.: I pull the last clump of snow from my hair and fall asleep.
Katie Baker is a reporter. Her Twitter is here.