Eric Thurm mostly writes about television and hosts Drunk TED Talks (no relation), a totally fun and intellectually stimulating event you can and should attend. If he wrote a memoir, it would be titled Disciplined and Pun-ish. He is sorry for making that joke, but it says most of what you need to know about him.
12:13 AM, my building, Harlem – I look at my phone after stepping into my building’s elevator and notice that it’s after midnight, which means I should start paying more attention to where my body is and what it is doing. I am very tired and unsure of my sobriety.
12:15 AM, the sixth floor – I walk into my apartment, lurching toward my room, ready to pass out… and stumble into two people from my college debate team, who I haven’t seen since I graduated. They have been hanging out with one of my roommates (who was also on the debate team, and is currently passed out in her room), so I am forced to make small talk before their Uber arrives. My body is not capable of mustering the energy for intersubjectivity.
12:16 AM – I am asked repeatedly for my opinions on the Kardashians. All I can think about is that David Schwimmer is playing Robert Kardashian in that terrible-looking Ryan Murphy show people seem to actually be liking. Does that mean I’m going to have to watch it sober and try to take it seriously?
12:19 AM – They leave. I am very sleepy, and sit down in the extremely comfortable recliner in my living room, finally look over at the coffee table, and discover several empty wine bottles, sticky glasses, and an open fifth of Fireball that has been sitting in my apartment for months, resisting all attempts to kill it.
12:20 AM – I eat several black and white cookies. They aren’t very good, but I left them in the fridge so they’re a little more structurally coherent, and a bit less gooey, than they were when I bought them. I have very strong opinions about the right way to eat black and white cookies.
12:27 AM – My stomach hurts. Where did the cookies go?
12:30 AM – Twitter.
12:35 AM – I walk over to my roommate/friend/homosocial life partner Brad’s room, get into his bed, and ask how his day was. He’s just started a new job, and I am trying very hard to be attentive and not let myself get sucked into my own myopic bullshit to the exclusion of people I care about. It is a very nice conversation, intimate and easy. I remind myself how glad I am to have him in my life.
1:03 AM – On the way to the fridge before bed, I almost walk into a trash can full of empty Domino’s boxes of various sizes and states of being broken down. The outlines of my roommate’s evening become sharper.
1:08 AM – Time to let Venture Bros clips run on YouTube until I fall asleep. I remember that there’s supposed to be a blizzard, but the snow falling doesn’t look so bad.
6:32 AM – I wake up from a nightmare, with no sense of what it was about. This is weird, because usually I remember the content of my dreams. It was probably work-related. My head feels like it’s full of cotton balls. Back to sleep.
8:36 AM – Fuck. I guess the blizzard happened.
I look at my laptop to discover that my YouTube hole of Venture Bros clips has, through the magic of autoplay, somehow led me to an awful-looking romantic movie titled Roommates Secret’s [sic], which appears to be about a girl attending a boarding school who discovers that her roommates are lesbians. This is supposed to be a shocking twist. The movie (which is actually called Roommate Secret) is from 2013.
I pause the movie, fuck around on the internet for a few minutes, then start watching again. One character, who I later realize is the protagonist (the one who moves into the room with the lesbians), is reading a letter she wrote to her dead mother.
8:58 AM – Okay, this really is just a softcore lesbian porno.
9:07 AM – One of the roommates is putting a mouse in her sweatshirt for some reason. I think she’s adopted a pet hawk, and is going to give it the mouse as a snack. I finally turn off Roommates Secret’s, pull up the Venture Bros season four finale (the one with the prom), and get on the stationary bike in my apartment, which belongs to my third roommate, but lives in my room because I have space for it and like using it in private.
9:13 AM, the stationary bike – I text my sister while I’m moving my legs. We’ve been talking about which How I Met Your Mother character we are, based on a conversation I was having with my friend Eve about this last night (she’s Robin/Ted, I’m Ted/Marshall). My sister, who took a BuzzFeed quiz to determine that she was Lily, responds immediately: She thinks I’m Ted. I tell her I wish I were home so we could watch movies and play board games during the blizzard, which is true. She agrees. She’s the best.
9:45 AM, sitting on my bed – Time to get off the bike, mostly because I am starting to feel some numbness in the bike seat region. (Is that normal?) I’ve been spending half an hour on the bike every day of 2016 so far, which isn’t that big of a deal but is still the most sustained exercise commitment I’ve made in years. I feel much healthier, and am starting to be able to more easily separate the physical sensations of depression (feeling like my body is shutting down at 9:00 PM every night, the pressure under my eyes, the constant pull of disassociation) from my actual emotional health and wellbeing, which has improved immensely from where it was even a few weeks ago.
9:53 AM – I finish “Operation P.R.O.M.,” which still has just the best ending. I look it up and remember that this episode aired in 2010. There have been, like eight episodes of the show in the intervening five-plus years. That is some bullshit.
10:00 AM – I realize that I am probably going to be stuck in my apartment all day, partly because of the snow and partly because I am lazy. I’ve been trying to get my friend David to come wait out it out with me (especially because his apartment doesn’t have internet), but for some reason the prospect of braving a blizzard just to come hang out with me doesn’t appeal to him. I have a lot of media to consume for the rest of the day, and encounter some anxiety about how to render that experience interesting in the slightest. I realize that making media sound interesting is literally most of my work, and feel a little better.
10:04 AM, back in the recliner – I listen to some old Madlib beats while I finally finish reading Skin Shows, a queer studies book about monsters I have been reading on and off for over a year. The conclusion is largely about the nature of puns as a tool for generating monstrosity and meaning between texts, queering language by making super niche, obscure references. This makes me very happy, even if I am still extremely sleepy and snowed in.
10:36 AM – I was supposed to have lunch with one of my best friends from high school, but neither of us are going to make it out of the house. I’m glad I don’t have to go anywhere, but sad I’m not going to get to see my friend – we fell out for a while, and I am extremely grateful to continue to have him as a consistent presence in my life, even though we have very different lifestyles and priorities. Having friends who are different from you is dope. We reschedule.
10:51 AM – My roommate (the one who passed out) and I have both recently purchased copies of My Brilliant Friend and are planning on doing a Ferrante book club during the blizzard. She sits on the couch while I nestle deeper into the chair, our bodies in ruins. Just opening to the index of characters seems like a challenge.
10:52 AM – Oh god, the index of characters is two and a half pages long.
10:55 AM – Brad walks into the living room and impishly, idly toys with a jigsaw puzzle we did a few weeks ago when he was unemployed and I was mostly sending emails setting up assignments. The thought of him destroying the puzzle gives me hives.
11:14 AM – I write down the first phrase of Ferrante’s that has really caught my eye: “Our world was like that, full of words that killed.” It resonates with the end of Skin Shows, where puns create the alleys in which monsters lurk, half-seen.
11:35 AM – I take a break from reading to search for people I follow on Twitter talking about Ferrante. The voyeurism of being able to collect your friends/colleagues/vaguely work-adjacent acquaintances’ publicly available, perhaps not fully considered impressions of a given subject is vaguely intoxicating. I feel like I should apologize to several of my friends for creeping on their old tweets about Vanderpump Rules.
I get a text from my friend Maria, who is trying to decide if she should venture into the blizzard. By now, I am sort of trying to avoid texting or communicating with other people on the internet. It feels, somehow, disingenuous, like the blizzard should mean I am truly isolated for the day, even though I can talk to almost anyone I want. But this is important: Maria hasn’t stocked on booze for the day. “A dry blizzard is not a fly blizzard,” I text her, sadly realizing that it is probably the cleverest thing I will think all day.
11:44 AM – I put on Donuts, which I haven’t listened to in over a year, and keep reading Ferrante. It feels super cliche to be doing both of those things, especially after spending over an hour listening to Madlib. But given my relative isolation and comfort, I have decided to lean in to doing absurd things that I would ordinarily be embarrassed about broadcasting.
12:06 PM – Another phrase to note from Ferrante: “Her quickness of mind was like a hiss, a dart, a lethal bite.”
12:26 PM – I really want to finish the first part of the book, because I am obsessed with completing arbitrary tasks and think it will make me feel better about what I’ve “accomplished” today, but the thought of forcing myself to read an additional 30 pages of a book to satisfy an unhealthy compulsion feels like finishing a thing of ice cream just to say you finished – it would be cool to tell the story, but I would rather enjoy the ice cream and avoid vomiting. This decision feels mature to me (and Donuts is over), so I start messing around on the internet.
12:33 PM, still in the recliner – Still trying to get David to come over, I google “is the subway still running.” Also, it turns out Roomates Secret’s is still open on my laptop. I do not close the tab.
12:34 PM – I think about making lunch, but I’m in a mood where I like being hungry – sometimes I forget how good it can feel to be hungry, to have a reminder that, not only are you a body, you are a body over which you have some degree of control. I think, as I do most times I ruminate on the subject, that there is probably some weird Protestant/Jewish mind-body “discipline” bullshit seeping into this, and that I should be more comfortable both with treating my body as a unity and with allowing its various functions to go on, essentially, at their own pace. This argument has never resolved itself in my head, and I suspect it never will.
12:37 PM – Someone is driving around in the snow, whooping while another car honks. I’m glad whoever it is is having a good time – if I were less depressed and more adventurous, I would probably be trying to force someone to go out and explore. Oh, fuck. I’ve forgotten to take my meds.
12:48 PM – Brad starts doing push-ups in the living room. His new job is very intense (he has to commute to Connecticut, and wakes up at 6:00 AM every day), and we talk about how he wants his life to be “monkish.” I respect his decision to work on himself this way, especially since I am planning on becoming a mystic this year.
12:50 PM – I was also planning on watching screeners for the new season of Better Call Saul today, but it turns out you need to register for a whole different press site separate from the normal AMC one. I send an email to the publicists at AMC (on a Saturday, I know) asking if they can give me access to the screeners so I can continue to not leave this chair. Life is pain.
1:03 PM – The Better Call Saul screeners, magically, show up in my inbox. Olivia at AMC, if you are reading this, you are a queen. I’m already taking notes on a very different show for another piece, so I keep doing that since I’m already in the show’s zone/being dragged willingly into a YouTube hole of music videos. I consume a lot of media, I guess.
1:47 PM – Eve is going to be on the Upper East Side for dinner, and texts me that she might come over later. A few minutes later, we have somehow made plans to go to Rainforest Cafe* before watching Grease Live! next weekend. Brad is now walking around the house brushing his teeth naked. (Nothing wrong with that.) He suggests we go out into the blizzard.
*or similar theme restaurant
I force myself to write 500 words of notes of the other piece first, even though it’s going to be pretty heavily reported, because of compulsion. (I do this a lot–write 500 words of something that isn’t even due for weeks, just to feel accomplished.) Now I can go out. Also, I have barely eaten anything today, but that makes sense–I ate enough Chinese food last night to sustain the cast of NCIS for an entire season.
2:28 PM, outside – Brad and I go out into the blizzard and walk into Central Park. It’s lovely out–not too cold, snowing slowly, like a holiday special, kids running around sledding and giggling. I kind of hate this word, but it really is picturesque.
2:43 PM – We see our first pee stain in the wild.
2:56 PM – It strikes me that at least one of these kids is in the process of making their fondest, dearest childhood memory, and that we are watching it happen. This thought is either very depressing or strangely spiritually nurturing, depending on your general opinions of snow and childhood and cyclicality.
3:47 PM, Central Park North – After trekking through the snow, taking several photos of dogs/very fire selfies (Brad is a good photographer), and arriving somewhere around 20% visibility, we get to a bodega to pick up wine and snacks for the rest of the day. Neither of us think we will leave the house once we return, so we invest in several bottles of wine. The people at the bodega assure us that they will be open all night, and are committed to making sure everyone in the neighborhood can buy tortilla chips whenever they want. They are heroes.
4:08 PM, my apartment – Stripped down, newly warm. Time to clean the house.
4:23 PM – One of Brad’s friends, D is here. He is a very nice guy, but his appearance presents a couple of problems. First, his feet smell so bad that we try to make him wash his socks, then maybe just make him throw them out. He has also brought an ungodly amount of food that we didn’t ask for, and tries to charge us for it. Then he asks to borrow someone’s laptop, which feels on a level with casually requesting to borrow someone’s vibrator. This is some bullshit, but I am not in a headspace to be confrontational, especially when we are going to be snowed in for the rest of the night. I retreat to my room to take some notes and eat a bunch of Chips Ahoy.
4:57 PM, my bed – My “friend” David texts me again, finally confirming that he’s not going to make it up here. He’s being a blizzard tease, but I want to hang out with him even though I just saw him yesterday. I wish our friend Brittany were here.
5:03 PM – I text Brittany about Vanderpump Rules. She asks me if she should get a Juicy tracksuit, which is not a real question because the answer is obviously “yes.” We discuss one possibility for her look for 2016: Kim Kardashian circa 2006. It’s a good one.
5:10 PM, the couch (Brad is in the recliner) – I remember that I still have the Better Call Saul screeners, and have forgotten to watch them. (I have also forgotten to eat.) I down a couple of edibles and settle in to watch the season premiere while Brad, D, and our roommate Nick try to figure out what movie to watch.
6:08 PM – They’ve gone to Nick’s room to watch The Godfather (which Brad has never seen), so I move from the couch back to the recliner to watch the second episode of Better Call Saul. I’ve taken about a legal pad page’s worth of notes on the premiere, and as tired (and ever-so-slightly stoned) as I am, it feels great. When I watched the first few episodes of Better Call Saul season one in my last apartment, I squealed very loudly, and basically rolled around on the floor with the cat I was living with at the time out of sheer joy that it was not terrible. My opinion of Breaking Bad has kind of soured a bit, but I wrote my undergrad thesis about the show, and it’s just so nice to watch how competent Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould and co. are at making TV.
6:27 PM – D emerges from Nick’s room. He is pacing back and forth, having a serious conversation on the phone, and I feel like I’m eavesdropping even though I’m trying to focus on the curious artifact that is Bob Odenkirk’s hair. I slowly finish the second episode of Better Call Saul, stopping a couple of times to look at the internet, text Brittany about You’re the Worst, and get cyber-bullied by her and David. (Several of my friends have also texted me about a Thing that has apparently happened on the internet, but I’m only intermittently in the mood for gossip.) The thought briefly comes to mind that, if I think about today in a few years, I might not even remember either of these two shows, even though both of them are very important to me at the moment (in different ways). Time is weird.
7:40 PM – Time to either a.) finally take a shower or b.) start watching this documentary about Weimar cinema I found out about yesterday and am extremely hyped to consume. I text Eve to ask her which I should do first. Smash cut to:
8:04 PM, back in the chair – I’m watching the documentary, freshly showered and clad in pajama pants so soft I expect someone to show up to feed me grapes. The movie looks awesome – I love unnecessarily academic books, Nosferatu, and disconcerting set design, so experiencing them all at the same time should be great.
8:18 PM – Okay, this is a little drier than I was expecting, at least at points. (I should’ve known, I know.) I eat another dose of edibles.
8:27 PM – The narrator compares Robert Reinert’s Nerven, a movie I’ve never heard of, with The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari: “The film is less influential because it cannot be used as decor.” This phrase sticks with me.
8:41 PM – Update: This movie is awesome, if a bit demanding if you are not already on its level. Watching Lubitsch arrange a tiny house at the beginning of The Doll, I have a brief moment where I think I know what, roughly, people saw the first time they encountered these films, the first time they understood what the directors were doing. It’s the same feeling that leads people to use the word “masterpiece.”
9:04 PM – I look down to discover I have eaten a whole thing of guacamole. The intervals during which I am totally unalert and my sense of place abandons me are widening, and I can feel my sense perceptions just kind of splintering in response to whatever is happening in my blood.
9:36 PM – Brad asks if I want a burger–he, D, and Nick are cooking. I am still very hungry and feel like I am hovering six to eight inches behind my body in a fun, totally not dissociative way, but I’m present enough to observe that they’re offering me the last scrap of meat for my burger. This is a trap to get me to clean the kitchen when they’re done eating, and I will not fall for it.
9:55 PM – In setting up our pull-out bed for D, we discover that he has ripped the seat of his jeans. Eve texts me to tell me she’s coming over from her sister’s place on the Upper East Side. By now, I’ve given up on finishing the documentary, and resign myself to doing it in the morning.
9:57 PM – In my weakened state, Brad finally convinces me to break up the puzzle. We spent three days doing very little but working on this puzzle, taking turns on the exercise bike, and listening to movie scores. I already value this memory highly, but begrudgingly admit that destroying the fruit of our labor is incredibly cathartic and dope.
10:07 PM – I’m floating a bit, but get pulled back down by hearing D say, perhaps unprompted, “I’ve got an unhealthy relationship with masturbation.” I try not to think about where the conversation is going from here.
10:16 PM – Still upset about the collection of pieces now randomly distributed in the box, I put “Concerning Hobbits” on and start conducting a funeral for the completed puzzle in my head.
10:47 PM – Nick has gone to bed, which leaves us with too few people to play any good board games. After halfheartedly debating whether we could pull off a three-person round of King of Tokyo, we start playing Jenga. D loses.
11:15 PM – In lieu of another round of Jenga, we play one of Brad’s favorite drinking games – the one from that one episode of Game of Thrones, where you have to say a fact you think is true about one of the other people in the game. If it’s true, they drink. If it’s false, you drink. The problem with this game, though, is that I only ever play it with a bunch of dudes. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it devolves into a witch hunt for fetishes.
11:42 PM – Eve arrives. This totally reinvigorates everyone’s ability to come up with good guesses. (I’ve been sort of drifting away from the game, intermittently gchatting my friend Claire in an attempt to dissuade her from watching a Whitney Cumming special, which feels like the lord’s work.) Eventually, though, the game transforms into Never Have I Ever. I am never quite sure how I should feel about this game, but in this case, as I usually do, I just kind of go with it and hope that I don’t look too gross or too prudish or whatever.
12:00 AM – Everyone has mellowed out significantly, and though my perception is a little blurrier, I’m feeling a lot more present and capable of connecting to the other people in the room. I run a checklist on the stuff I thought I was going to do today: I’ve spent a bunch of time with Brad, which is always good. I miss David and Brittany, but they are great virtual presences. Roommates Secret’s is still open in Chrome. I went out in the snow, and Eve showed up in time for games. I have barely left this chair and I still haven’t taken my meds, but it’s been a very good day.