September 28, 2018
My alarm went off at 7:35 a.m., intoning a soft piano melody that made me feel like a baby angel waking from slumber. I use one of those sleep-tracking apps that presents me each morning with a line graph of the night’s activity. It also records my snoring, to embarrass me, and promises to wake me during a set window of time when I am not in a REM cycle. I reserve a lot of blind faith for iPhone apps that promise to make my life better, so I trust all of this information is correct and good, but I always wake up feeling tired anyway. This morning was also a gym morning, which is something I have to get dressed for every other day.
I can conservatively estimate that I own 6,000 different items of activewear, and only four of them—comprising two full outfits—are nice to look at. One is a neon set that makes me look like a beautiful Olympian; the other involves a pair of short shorts that cut my thighs in the ideal way. All of the other clothes are rags that have fallen gracelessly out of my everyday wardrobe, like corporate T-shirts and bygone costume elements. My two nice outfits were in the laundry, so I wore a pair of bright red shorts with white piping (“Camp Counselor”) and a different red Key Bank T-shirt (paint stricken). I looked like the Flash during a downward spiral.
Working out is horrible and I dread every moment of it up until it’s happening, and then during, and only afterward do I enjoy it. I feel proud of myself, my brain runneth over with serotonin, etc. I am also not good at it, mostly because I spend my workouts waiting for them to be over. I ran on the treadmill and looked at the clock every other second. I did 15 things on the arm machine so I could speed over to the leg machine and then did 30 of those. Around me, comically attractive people were pushing their bodies to the brink of their physical limits, grunting very loudly. I was just kind of there, sweating a medium amount for an hour, at which point I allowed myself to leave.
And the gym itself!!! I’m sorry, I know you are dying for me to move on, but I need to describe this gym to you because it was truly insane. It used to belong to a small constellation of boutique gyms that borrowed most of their design cues from, I think, European gay sex clubs. Unfortunately for all of us, they went out of business, but then a larger fitness conglomerate bought up all of the empty, sexy gyms and converted them into flagship locations, and they did not renovate a single thing. Crimson lighting washes over the locker room. Strange medieval furnishings continue to age gracefully, unperturbed. The DJ booth—DJ booth!—by the free weights is vacant for most of the day, but a man in a T-shirt arrives in the late afternoons to blare EDM straight into the bloodstreams of the post-work crowd. Membership is cheap enough to afford but expensive enough to incentivize you to actually go.
So I went. And then afterward, I got this peanut butter smoothie from the bright, happy juicery next door that tasted so good. I’ve tried to make it at home but I never can get it quite right, even though it has four ingredients, and two are just different kinds of milks.
I was writing something long and my deadline was in two days. Two cubicles over, a woman I did not know was laughing so hard that it was impossible to focus. She was having the time of her life, screaming into the atmosphere with delight at random intervals. I couldn’t make out the conversations she was having, but I could tell when the laugh was about to come—the voices got quicker as the punchline of the joke approached, and then oh my God, it began, the rippling laughter that sounded like the Gates of Hell opening up to swallow me whole.
For lunch, I had an exceptionally regular turkey sandwich that I ate quietly on a bench while doing nothing else. A very healthy woman who had the neck of a princess once told me that eating without any distractions—phone, TV, the story I am writing—helps to aid digestion and will help me be more productive following. It has something to do with cortisol and self-love.
Did it make my story great when I returned to my desk? Ha ha, absolutely not, but it did make it a little bit better, which was enough of an achievement.
I told my roommate I would grab a drink with her at this bar near our apartment. She does all of the visuals for a chic store in Manhattan, and I am a wart-covered hobgoblin who is afraid of the gym, so our schedules do not overlap—she is gone for work when I wake up, and when I arrive home at night, she has already gone to bed. She was in the heat of applying to law school, which is mostly what we ended up talking about. Then we went home and created our avatars in The Sims, moving them into a two-bedroom together.
My roommate headed to sleep while I furnished our Sims living room, which is painstaking but deeply satisfying. The most wonderful thing about going to the gym in the morning is that you have accomplished enough very early on that you can do almost anything for the rest of the day in vain, like buy smoothies and furnish fake living rooms. There was nothing else good about it, but I didn’t have to go tomorrow, so it was already a wonderful day.
Brennan Kilbane, Brooklyn, gym, design