09/14/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Notes From These Pajamas: The Diary of a Freelance Writer


1:05pm -- Wake up. Log on to the Internet. 15,000 thousand people died in an earthquake in South East Asia yesterday; 600,000 Americans lost their jobs this month; not a single new message in my inbox. The world is a cruel and unforgiving place.

2pm -- Start my movie review of romantic comedy _______. Find three clever new ways to make fun of Matthew McConaughey, am reminded of a quote by Goethe about the greatness of the human spirit when in service of its soul's ideal. Feeling inspired, I decide to make eggs instead of cereal for breakfast. Unfortunately, by the time I reach the kitchen, a great existential malaise has descended upon me, reminding me of the vast, unfeeling indifference of the universe. I settle for cereal.

3:15pm -- Continue working on movie review. Outside my window a bird sits perched on a tree limb. This tableau gets me thinking -- about the boundless beauty of the universe; about the fleeting preciousness of life; about the fact that I haven't been outside all day; about the fact that I may not have gone outside yesterday either.

4pm -- Small problem. My editor just stopped by and informed me that the weekly newspaper I'm working for can no longer afford to pay me. After she leaves, I go into the kitchen and contemplate the contents of my refrigerator vis a vis the contents of my bank account. I may have to start rationing.

4:02pm -- Eat one (1) cheese sandwich and three (3) chocolate chip cookies. New rationing project off to poor start.

Idea for a book: A writer, recently fired from his job at a small weekly newspaper, decides to write a book. Gets idea. Writes book.

6:00pm -- Basketball at the community center. I'm finding it hard to concentrate on the game. I can't shake thoughts of impending poverty. I grumble at the other players on the court. I feel like Dostoyevsky's Underground Man: I am a sick man, I am a spiteful man, I need to work on my hesitation dribble. Endless misery.

8pm - After nearly collapsing on the court more than once, I have decided that smoking unfiltered cigarettes and playing basketball in 100-degree weather do not go together. May have to quit playing basketball.

8:30pm -- "Evening is descending like a heavy mist,
Turning the bleached and lively world to cobalt and quiet.
Oh, clouded wilderness of death, into whose embrace we must all fall - you are the very essence of mystery and languishment.
Oh, spirit of the ancients -- tell me which way to turn in a universe without meaning."
- J.R.

Possible titles for a book of poetry:
1. Evening Is Descending, Like a Heavy Mist
2. The Very Essence of Mystery and Languishment
3. "That Car is a Star," Said the Cow to the Jar... and other poems for slow children
4. I Never Thought This Would Happen to Me: The Collected Erotic Sonnets of
Josh Rosenblatt

10pm -- Perhaps a little pornography will motivate me to get back to work.

11:30pm -- L_____ texts, asking if I'd like to come over. I write back that I'm working and won't be able to. She texts again to say she's naked. I turn her down again. I must be strong. The life of a freelance writer requires immense discipline and focus.

11:31pm -- Driving to L ____'s house.

12mid - Sleep with L ______. Feel strangely empty afterward, like the distance between us was made even greater by this desperate, late-night grasp at intimacy. Lying in bed, I decide that lust is meaningless without love and that this should be a time in my life filled with meaning. Resolve not to sleep with L ____ anymore.

12:30am -- Sleep with L _____ again. This time it's not my fault. She had put on very short shorts.

2:15am -- L_____ is asleep. I pull out my laptop and continue to work on the movie review, which is due first thing in the morning. Realizing that this will be the last review I do for weekly newspaper _____, I resolve to write a closing sentence that is both important and meaningful, even inspiring: at once a scathing critique of modern Hollywood assembly-line film-making, a fond farewell to the paper that nurtured me, and a brave hello to the outside world that awaits. After 17 minutes of careful consideration I come up with "Matthew McConaughey is our generation's Cary Grant ... if Cary Grant refused to wear shirts," and close my laptop. There must be wine around here somewhere.

2:35am -- Found it! Oh, L ______, did you really think I wouldn't look in your sock drawer?

2:37am -- There must be a straw around here somewhere.

3:14am -- My review is finally perfect. The tone strikes just the right balance between bewilderment and cynicism, taking to task the Hollywood garbage factory and the American viewer who continues to support it. It's simultaneously movie criticism and sociological meditation, an intellectual link between Pauline Kael and Michel Foucault. I deserve to look at Internet porn.

3:15am -- Must be another bottle around here somewhere ...

3:16am -- A-ha!

3:35am -- Send. Why not?

4:15am -- Climb into L_____'s bed. Tomorrow I will start contacting bigger and better papers and magazines about freelance work. I feel confident. I'm sure they've never read anybody like me before. I'm going to come out of nowhere. Surely success awaits. Onward and upward! Life begins tomorrow! Oh, my soul!

4:16am -- Jesus Christ, I am fucked.