The Work: Eric Reads the Week, #74

Hi! It's R. Eric Thomas. From the internet?

This week: The Ocean's 8 cast adds 10 years to my life, a DJTJr thirst trap kills me immediately, and a breakup letter to Kim Jong Un.

There are going to be fewer columns than usual this week and next week because I took some time off from work around the Memorial Day holiday. I am worried this will disappoint you; if you wish to speak to the manager, I understand. Please do not leave a scathing Yelp review. It's just a few fewer columns. You won't even notice the difference. Here: we're sending you a free dessert! On the house! Two! Two free desserts.

I took two days off last week and will take two days off next week so that I can go away and hopefully finish my book. I rented a beautiful Airbnb in a tranquil setting in southern Maryland, right next to the Bay, with kayaks and canoes and bikes for us to use, with free range chickens, and so many lounge chairs. And I did it all so that I could work very hard inside all day on my laptop. I needed to create a space where the only thing that I had to do was this project and where I could, in theory, reward myself for powering through an essay by roaming out to the middle of the Bay in a kayak, realizing that I do not have the upper body strength to get back, spending 30 minutes aimlessly rocking and debating just living there forever, like becoming a seaperson, an itinerant Water Wandererer, a tertiary villain from a Pirates of the Caribbean movie. You know, the usual. Actually, I didn't take the kayak out, yet. David and I took the canoe out and he did all the steering whilst I dragged my paddle along the side and experienced deep thoughts. I am the coxswain of my life.

On our way back, I decided that I was hungry and tired and I really threw my back out into paddling and it's amazing what happens when two people actually contribute to the success of a sea vehicle! We were speeding along like a jet ski! I had no idea. Here was I was hitching a ride in the canoe like it was an Undersea Uber. UrsulUber?

They should have that: Uber for water. Like when you want to be Master and Commander but you don't want to break a sweat. This is very useful. Someone call the Coast Guard and tell them about my plan. Sometimes you just want to stare, plaintively, at the water and feel at once at peace with the universe and all-powerful and so small, but you don't want to do any of the work for it. Undersea Uber. Ubay, if you will. (I will not!)

I gotta tell you, I feel a little weird revealing that the book isn't done. I don't know why I feel weird about that. It is not a secret. I have not been maintaining a complicate deception throughout a romantic comedy only to find it crashing down around me at the worst possible moment. No one thinks this book is done (well, some people may think it but they don't say it. [Well some people say but I can't hear them over the lapping of the waves from the back of this canoe.])

It’s not done, okay? We made the deal in the fall and it’s due to my publisher in September so, like, everyone is aware that it is in-progress. But I still get all weird and equivocatey when I talk about my book, like I’m just sitting around with a polished manuscript in a drawer like Harper Lee’s editor. I am not Harper Lee’s editor. (I believe her name is Lawyer Lee Gilmore.) In my drawer I have three pretty good unproduced plays, a 3/4-finished book, and a bunch of notes on my iPhone with jokes about Rudy Guiliani I never used. What am I going to do with all these jokes about Guiliani?! What is my plan?! I don’t know!

I feel like everything should be done now. That’s because I am a lifelong procrastinator who suddenly had become weirdly accountable and I am SHEWK. That’s the thing that’s changed for me after nearly two years of writing this column every day. The column is tied to the news cycle. And the news cycle is currently (permanently??!) set to the highest Vitamix setting. I see the column as comedy rather than blogging, which has a different standard for me. But it all has to come out in, at most, a couple of hours or the news moves on. So it’s wild to me to look at this manuscript every day for MONTHS that is not done.

I have to do things right away or they become terrifying albatrosses that literally keep me up at night. The other night, as we were about to go to sleep I noticed David was staring at the ceiling. I asked him what was on his mind and he talked about his hopes and dreams and plans and fears. David asked me what I was thinking about and I was like “I’m thinking about Pam’s motivation in the second act of my play Nightbird.” I frequently jump out of bed and run to my computer. Am I living the dream? Literally?!

Anyway, I just had to kidnap myself to get the time to do it. I wrote thousands of words yesterday and the day before. I imagine I'll write thousands today. Some of them perhaps good. I write all the time. (I've been writing to you this whole time.) But every once in a while it's necessary, even rejuvenating, to take a break from work so that you can do your work. And sometimes you need to do that work in the back of a kayak driven by a stranger you summoned on an app. Fishman, roll up the partition please.

This week, a bunch of instances of people who not necessarily doing the work, but doing some work, with varying success. From Donald Trump Jr's workout routine, to a heroic sinkhole, to Trump's attempt at diplomacy. But first: a bee that is not throwing away its shot!

Meghan Markle and Camilla Laugh as a Bee Tries to Make Out with Prince Harry

When reached for comment, the bee replied, "I had to shoot my shot! Prince Harry is a snack and I ginger snapped!" The bee then proceeded to perform all 12 key changes in "Love on Top" as a tribute to King Bey of America. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

Heroic Sinkhole Opens On White House Lawn, Expressing Public Sentiment

The unexplained rapid dissolution of the ground on which the White House stands is, again, not metaphorical but actually happening and hopefully will be captured on a live webcam. Is there anything more American than tuning in in real-time to watch the once-hallowed halls now trod by creeps and Dick Tracy villains tumble into the abyss like a Bluth Company model home? [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

These Photos of the Ocean's 8 Cast Cracking Each Other Up Added 10 Years to My Life

Three-quarters of the Ocean's 8 cast gathered at the Met today for a press conference promoting their upcoming film. Only missing from the cast were Rihanna and Helena Bonham Carter who, in a nifty bit of guerilla marketing, were pulling off a high-stakes heist at the Guggenheim. While the two icons were away, their cast mates from the forthcoming caper flick proved all work and no play is, well, a crime. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

Analyzing Trump's Breakup Letter to Kim Jong Un

Today, the White House released a passive-aggressive letter from the President of the United States to Kim Jong Un cancelling their June 12th meeting and directing the North Korean leader to a YouTube link for Adele's "Rolling in the Deep." Like a friend who sends a screenshot of a private text fight to a groupchat, the Trump administration got up extra early today to accomplish all the petty they have planned. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

I Regret To Inform You That Donald Trump, Jr. Is Very Much Back on the Market

You know that thing where a friend goes through a breakup and all of the sudden all of their Instagram stories are gym selfies and thirsty bathroom mirror posts captioned "Feeling cute. Might delete later."? Well, I regret to draw your attention to this. [READ THE FULL ARTICLE]

Let's Hang Out!

DC: The Moth Story Slam on June 18 at the Miracle Theater

Philadelphia: The Moth Story Slam on June 11 at World Cafe Live

New York: The Moth Ball on June 5th at Capitale

Random Thing From the Internet...

A serious Denver journalist randomly decided to go cover a person's attempt to break the Guinness World Record for highest stack of waffles. She live-tweeted it as it went down and then wrote this fantastic article about it. It brought so much joy.

Keep up the good work! Or don't! I don't know!