Five Things I Wasted My Time On In 2022
This is the year that I could not resist the siren's call of trash
It’s the end of the year, which means every media outlet and newsletter writer is putting together “best of” lists that make it seem like normal people spend their time enjoying high-quality things.
I did not consume many high-quality things this year. Sure, I watched White Lotus, Succession, and Severance just like everybody else who has ever worked in media and lives within 50 miles of a coast. I bought but did not read the new English-translated book by Olga Tokarczuk. I played some Rachmaninov while my baby threw blocks around in her playroom in an attempt to turn her into a genius without actually doing anything. I acquired my first Dityque candle. I successfully grew delicious tomatoes and habanero peppers so hot that they will make even the most steeled of buttholes see god.
Despite the fact that I have a finite amount of attention, a smaller amount of time, and an even more finite number of fucks to give, I managed to give my care and attention to the many stupid things this year that did not deserve my time and attention. Here are several of them.
Just Enjoy It While You Can is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
…And Just Like That
Sex and the City was on TV when I was too young to really get that the humor in the show came from the fact that each of the four main characters were jerks dating jerks in Jerk Town, USA. But I’ve watched the entire thing all the way through several times, at different points in my life, and I’ve gone from finding it aspirational to finding it cringe to finding it a worthy, joke-dense product of its time to finding it a way to look in on New York City, a place I loved and left. And I always come back to the original SATC. I cannot explain why.
So of course I watched …And Just Like That, the long-awaited sequel to the show. And, like most people my age who have found their formative years entwined with and informed by plot points in the original Sex and the City, I didn’t think the show, maybe more aptly titled Death and the City was great. In fact, it was pretty dark. It had some excellent moments and a few great jokes but I spent most of the time watching it feeling annoyed with the main characters as though they were members of my family that I look forward to seeing all year and then when I’m around them I’m reminded of all of the ways that we get on each other’s nerves when we spend more than five minutes together.
And yet. Every single week I was absolutely raring to watch the new episode of this show that would always make me mad. I will absolutely watch the next season of the show. I will get mad at the characters anew. I will text my friends about it. I can’t stop. I think whatever was happening to me is the same thing that happens to people who can’t help but watch Emily in Paris.
The internet subculture devoted to hating Hilaria Baldwin
If we could harness the power of Hilaria Baldwin’s audacity, we could grow all of the— how do you say?— cucumbers in carbon-neutral greenhouses. Born Hillary Thomas, she transformed herself using only the power of her own audacity into Hilaria Baldwin, Spanish woman who cannot remember the English word for cucumber. She was born in Boston— that’s Massachusetts, not Catalonia. You know all this. You know that a couple of years ago over a glorious, giddy 24 hours of internet excellence, she was exposed as a person whose public persona was completely made up. You know she fakes her accent and she gave all 91823471398 of her children Spanish names. You know that after she was caught faking being Spanish in a spectacular and public way, she just… carried on doing it. You almost have to respect it.
What you might not know about is that there is an entire vibrant online community that is still, two years later, devoted to treating every single thing she does like it’s the Zapruder film. Tens of thousands of active commenters who not only believe that her treachery knows no bounds. It’s the zeal you’d normally find in true crime forums determined to solve decades-old missing persons cases, but aimed entirely at hating this one D-list celebrity who is only famous because she’s married to a guy with A-list name recognition. There are people who believe she faked pregnancies, is faking her marriage, only pretends to be a supermom for clout but her children are actually raised by a revolving door of nannies who never last, because she is also a nightmare boss. Allegedly.
Reader, I have spent hours reading these forums. I don’t particularly hate Hilaria Baldwin. I think she’s unhinged and probably would not be a fun hang for me. As a celebrity, I find her exhausting, but it’s also theoretically possible for me to just ignore her and carry on with my life. What specifically fascinates me about the Hilaria Baldwin hatewatch online is how much they despise her, and how, if the forums are to be believed, Hilaria herself knowingly eggs on and stokes the hatred. It’s the most fucked up symbiotic fandom relationship I’ve ever encountered. I have wasted so much of my life consuming it this year.
This year marks my first time as an adult when I’ve lived in a place with a front yard. And obsessed over it— not in a boomer dad mowing, edging and wasteful irrigation kind of way, in a science experiment kind of way.
During the spring, I seeded it with native flowers to see what would take. We had a drought all summer and had to operate with watering restrictions, and so, to keep my literal weeds from dying, I would recycle water from our dishes and use it to water the yard. I would collect condensation from the air conditioner unit and pour it on my vegetables. I planted a row of bushes up against the fence. Half of them died. I planted more bushes. Greenhouse plants saw me coming and lovingly hugged their loved ones goodbye as I selected them for the Total War that was my horticulture. I killed some jasmine vines. They resurrected themselves after I gave up trying to care for them.
I started feeding squirrels— huge mistake. The squirrels became entitled. They were not afraid of people. They would eat out of my hand, but they would also wait by the front door, just inches and a screen separating them from my dog, and demand pumpkin seeds. They became aggressive. We had to stop feeding them entirely. One of them somehow got into my car, ate a bunch of candy, wedged itself into a space that I could not see or reach, and then died. My car smelled like dead squirrel for weeks. There is probably a little skeleton in there somewhere.
In the fall, once all of the experimental plants I was growing had fruited, wilted, or taken hold and the squirrels had returned to eating trash, I turned my focus to holiday displays. I went absolutely apeshit on holiday displays. I had a secret Pinterest board about it. I bought a Halloween magazine for moms that are out of ideas. Our Halloween display included a seven-foot-tall animatronic Grim Reaper. I spent hundreds of dollars and hired a professional to help me put up my Christmas display.
I could have written a novel in the amount of time I spent puttering around in my yard. I could have learned a new skill. I could have brushed up on my Spanish. I didn’t do any of those things.
The romantic lives of Adam Levine and that dude from those cringey internet videos I never watched
Future generations will look back on the stardom of Adam Levine in the same way that this current generation looks back on media outlets being obsessed with the virginity of female pop stars who got famous between the years 1997 and 2004— as an indictment of the culture at large. The Y2K era was a nightmare to young women; in this era we celebrate the douchebag.
When an instagram model revealed that she’d been having an affair with the aggressively married Adam Levine, it validated everything I’d always suspected about him: not only did he make bad music, he was also a gross person and a subpar sext partner.
Unfortunately for the dwindling hours I have left on this earth, this happened not long before the Try Guys scandal.
There was a span of about two weeks where the only thing I wanted to read or talk about was Ned Whathisname from The Try Guys, a group of tedious millennial men whose content never has or will interest me who rose to fame during that time that for some reason, millions of people cared about employees of Buzzfeed as though they were reality TV stars.
I was obsessed with his infidelity. It was the first I’d ever heard of him. I can’t explain why I cared at all. I think it’s weird to get all moralistic about the romantic relationships of public figures, but I also loathe moral sanctimony when it comes to one’s own monogamy. Ned Whoever was exactly the sort of person who seemed like he should be brought down a peg, and the story of his infidelity with a coworker and the massive public backlash against him felt like a rare time when that kind of hypocrisy was actually punished.
90 Day Fiancé
Almost every brilliant woman I know watches this show. I’d never joined them until this year.
I can’t remember what exactly prompted me to start. It might have been my friend and podcast cohost Alyssa’s frequent references to it. It may have been Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, a Harvard-educated theoretical physicist, professor, and author who swears up and down that it’s top-notch reality TV content. Whatever it was, I’m now so deep into the universe of 90 Day Fiancé that I cannot see a clear way out.
I actually downloaded a new app and signed up for a new streaming service to facilitate watching this show. It’s the only thing I watch on Discovery Plus. So far, I’ve watched three and a half seasons, proceeding back in opposite order. It’s some of the darkest shit I’ve ever seen on television. It’s such a horrible indictment of our immigration system and, frankly, of relationships in general. Every single person on the show is an idiot in their own special way. Nobody is on the level. Love turns everybody into an idiot.
The 90 Day Fiancé universe is producing content way more quickly than I can consume it. I will never catch up with all of the hundreds and hundreds of hours of shows they’ve already released, much less the “After the 90 Days” and “90 Days: The Single Life” series. Yet I know that I’ll try.
And there you have it. Five things I’ve wasted time on in 2022. Honorable mentions include: Conspiracy theories about the whereabouts and wellbeing of Britney Spears, Ginni Thomas’ use of the word “frickin” in text messages where she’s literally cheerleading treason, the Church of Satan, Julia Fox’s perpetually chapped lips, Elon Musk taking L’s, schadenfreude over the collapse of cryptocurrency, Halloween Baking Challenge, screenshotting people’s very bad Twitter takes after Will Smith slapped Chris Rock during the Oscars before they could delete them, luxury strollers, and whether it’s possible to cross the country without going through Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, or a snowstorm in December.
Here’s hoping that I find new incredible crap to waste my time on in 2023.
RIP squirrel boss :(
That 90 Days will suck you in!!