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Morning Diaries: Seth Rubin writes Jackbox Games 🎁 and reaches out to Katie Maloney 💘

Taking their little pills and making their little jokes.

Hi friends! Welcome to another issue of Morning Diaries, where I ask writers I admire to recap their mornings from the time they wake up until noon. Today’s diarist is Seth Rubin (they/he), a writer for Jackbox Games whose work has been published in The New Yorker, The Onion, Reductress, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, and more. You can follow Seth at their Substack Flannel or on Instagram at @sethrubin4. Take it away, Seth!

Wednesday, 5/1/24

8:15 AM: My alarm goes off at 8:15 AM, and I roll out of bed around 8:30. I try to rise with the sun in the spring and summer, but in Philly the sun is often busy whipping baseballs at children of divorce in a tire yard. Also, I was unexpectedly hospitalized two nights earlier for a throat infection, so I’m a little groggy after multiple nights of poor sleep.

8:30 AM: I admire the pencil drawing I bought at the Melrose Trading Post when I lived in LA. It’s very soothing to me to imagine someone taking the time to draw all those wave-like pencil lines. “It’s like a sunrise - hang it close to your bed so you see it when you wake,” the artist told me as he pressed it into my hands. Everyone else in my life hates it and thinks it was a spectacular waste of money. I feel like Jesus, another guy with 12 friends who didn’t understand him!!!!

All photos courtesy of Seth Rubin.

8:31 AM: I take my bipolar meds, which comprise one antidepressant and two mood stabilizers. My psychiatrist and I are currently trying to dial down my dosages, because they’ve been causing me some emotional numbing and now I can only cry when I watch Arrival. It’s going really well. Last week I was sitting on my couch and I started crying these thick, sticky tears, and I was like, it’s working! I’m feeling! I AM FEELING!!! And then I googled it and realized I had pink eye. But, you know, progress.

8:35 AM: I run downstairs and take my antibiotics out of a shot glass. Then I check my fridge to see if there’s any yogurt to eat or creamer for my coffee. Instead, it just looks like Mitch McConnell’s nutsack: completely empty except for a bunch of bats in the back. Ha ha ha, ZING!

8:37 AM: I should say that the entire time I’m walking around my house, taking my little pills and making my little jokes, my cat Tony is following me around screaming his little head off. He loves screaming in the morning. He is probably warning me of the exact place and time I will die but I’m usually just like, I don’t have time for that today, babe!


8:50 AM: I leave to go buy coffee and a donut at a place just down the street from me, Hello Donuts. It’s about an 8-minute stroll from my house, and the streets are full of flowers and trees and less trash than you might expect. Magic! I order an iced oat milk latte and a raspberry lemon donut.

Some flowers outside my neighbor’s house!

I start the walk home. Here is what I think about on my relaxing stroll:

  • The U.S. government should provide everyone in America with free coffee and donuts every day as an apology for the Vietnam War;

  • I think I could make Katie Maloney pretty happy. Like, she does not seem that happy on this current season of Vanderpump Rules, and that breaks my heart. I can teach her how to eat hoagies and she can teach me how to wear complicated mesh shirts;

  • A truly chilling dystopian future would be one where single people are banned from buying fresh bread because they simply can’t get through all of it before it goes bad. Exceptions would be made for single people with written proof of invitation to a picnic and/or dinner party.

9:20 AM: I finish my donut and read one chapter of my current book, which is Big Swiss by Jen Beagin. It’s excellent and I love reading in the mornings. Makes me feel continental like a breakfast.

9:27 AM: Now I’m upstairs at my desk and ready to work which means: immediately remove bra. Open up 75 word games. I love word games. I am super competitive and stubborn. Every day I have to do the NYT Crossword, Spelling Bee, Wordle and Connections, as well as the Squaredle. If I don’t achieve my little milestones in each game I become unbearably cross, like a dog that just lost a fight with a slipper.

9:29 AM: Okay but really, time to work! I’m writing for two different games today. The first is kind of a joke machine deal where I have to submit a ton of lil jokes. Luckily I wrote a bunch of nonsense from my hospital bed, just like Sylvia Plath writing “Tulips”, so I just have to type it into the computer. I pop on some Chappell Roan to write to; I am always on the lookout for perfect new zero-calorie pop music and hers is really deliciously fun and horny.

9:53 AM: Done with game 1. I knock out the crossword and do my Duolingo. It’s been 917 days and I still do not know how to order a Diet Coke in French.

10:05 AM: My neighbor across the street leaves for work. We share an uneasy truce where he and his wife pretend not to see me naked in my bedroom at night and I pretend not to be furious that they installed curtains immediately after they began seeing me naked in my bedroom at night. How long can these psychosexual mind games continue, I scream at him telepathically??

10:09 AM: Time to start writing for game 2. This one involves writing a ton of trivia. You can only write so much trivia before you feel that you know everything that has ever happened, like a Babylonian king. My current plan is to use my trivia-writing time to memorize all the dates of major eclipses in case I ever get sent back in time and have to convince a skeptical emperor that I’m some kind of powerful magician. It’s going well!!!

Uh oh, traffic jam! That’s a little “work from home” humor for ya

10:13 AM: My neighbor exits his house again - this time carrying a small box. Gonna crowdsource this one: do we think he killed his wife? 

10:22 AM: A text from someone who loves me! Just kidding, it’s from pretzels dot com. I have never ordered from them (I don’t make “pretzels dot com” money), but I’m genuinely worried I’ll miss something incredible if I unsubscribe.

10:43 AM: A robot from the hospital calls to yell questions at me. I answer its questions with a series of beeps and boops. All in all, a pretty satisfying conversation.

10:57 AM: Antibiotics are ravaging my body. This is around when I would normally get on my Peloton and find the gayest class available, because I can only work out if a sturdy twink is bitching at me, but… les antibiotiques. So I continue working, like a strong and handsome peasant.

11:08 AM: I switch to the playlist I’ve made for my current creative project. I have to have music playing while I work or I will go insane after being exposed to my raw, unfiltered thoughts, which are usually something like “Cigarettes: They Got Us To The Moon.” I just don’t think I need to be spending so much time coming up with slogans for cigarettes! My other cat, Meryl, takes this time to flop and sprawl directly on top of my hands while I’m typing. That’s that she espresso.

11:12 AM: I receive a lengthy audio message from my friend who is watching Survivor for the first time. She’s queer and trans so of course it contains phrases like “stark cultural transformation” instead of the phrases I usually use when talking about Survivor, such as “I like it when Jeff wears a little hat.”

11:20 AM: I realize I’ve spent so much time thinking about pretzels and cigarettes that I’ve forgotten to take my weekly shot of testosterone, which I take to make me more Joe Rogan-like. It goes without saying that it is very Brave of me to be Trans. I decide to push it off til tomorrow for no real reason other than the fact that I am a terrible member of the queer community.

11:23 AM: “Work Bitch” by Britney Spears comes on my playlist. “Work Bitch” is the most powerfully motivating song I know. Every day I thank god Hitler never got his hands on it.

12:00 PM: I am done chronicling my morning, as it is now afternoon. Thank you for joining me on this journey that mostly consisted of me sitting at my desk typing things. To conclude, Katie Maloney, please call me if you ever find yourself in Philadelphia. I promise I don’t have pink eye anymore!!!


You can follow Seth at their Substack Flannel or on Instagram at @sethrubin4.

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