Think inside the box

Think inside the box

Senior Staff Writer and hobbyist hermit Anna Hotter spends 48 hours inside her Wien single. Against all odds, she lives to tell you about it.

Last weekend I got pretty sick. I couldn’t talk, move, eat, or do any of my reading, of course. But because I live in a Wien single, aka Prezbo’s walk-in closet, not being able to leave my room is kind of a problem. Without a nearby kitchen, and bathrooms that smell like a dead skunk is rotting in the pipes, I soon found myself battling not just a persistent strain of streptococcus, but the demons of my own mind.

Day 1

When I woke up on Friday morning everything seemed normal. Little pellets of snow fell through the cracked window, while my room was still a toasty 104 degrees. My throat felt like tiny birds were nesting in it, a sensation I knew to chalk up to the complete lack of humidity in the building. Only when I tried to heave myself out of bed did I realize that this was not the usual feeling of slow physical deterioration, but probably something infectious. I canceled all appointments for the day and made peace with the prospect of spending the day in bed with my laptop and the cup of M&Ms I stole from JJs.

And for a while, all was well. I went through about five episodes of House of Cards and maybe three quarters of the Wien vending machine, and was feeling pretty darn happy despite my throbbing head. Why didn’t I do this more often? Surely I deserve a sick day every once in a while?! Unfortunately, this honeymoon period lasted for about as long as it took for (Editor’s note: Spoiler alert!) Doug Stamper to start drinking again. It was barely noon when I found myself strangely ambivalent towards Robyn Wright’s luminous face, and even the comfort of my pillow. Was I crazy? Staying in bed all day and watching TV is surely the dream of every Columbia student. But it felt like I was developing emotional bed sores, so I started looking for other ways to occupy my mind.

It took me about ten minutes to clean my room. Don’t get me wrong, it was a fucking mess–right now, an empty tequila bottle is resting on a pile of clothes and I swear to god I have no idea where it came from. But when your living space is the size of a generously designed dog pen, any mess can be dealt with in no time at all. A little dizzy and feverish, I scraped dried sauce out of pots and finally decided to part with the collection of used cotton balls that was overflowing from the trash. It felt good to get everything in order, right until the tiny birds in my throat migrated into my head and reminded me of why I had committed myself to bedrest. Defeated, I crawled back under the blanket and tried to imagine what life was like beyond the walls of my solitary cell. Was it night yet? I peeped out of the window, but thanks to the grey soup that covered campus it was hard to tell.

To all of you terrible people who are like, “But where are your friends, Anna? Doesn’t anybody love you?” I want to say that I got a lot of very concerned Snapchats and text messages throughout the day. I mean I didn’t expect anyone to expose themselves to my death germs, you know? Anyways, the afternoon trudged on and I was too weak to do anything but stare into the dim screen of my phone so I stalked Mindy Kaling on Instagram for a little bit.

The next couple of hours are kind of a blur. All I remember is that I was trying to make myself some food and that it involved a kettle, Trader Joe’s spinach tortellini, and half a bag of shredded mozzarella. There’s no way I actually managed to cook the pasta, so I probably just ate cheese. When I finally went to bed, I had to zone out the sounds of drunk people playing Cards Against Humanity in the room next door. There was lots of hollering at Ghandi’s tasteful side-boob. After an hour of twisting and turning I drifted into a fever dream about being half-naked in a Denny’s parking lot, and surrendered to the darkness.

Day 2

I woke up feeling like a freshman after their first NSOP party, and immediately decided that I literally couldn’t move from my bed anymore. Luckily I keep my phone, laptop and some snacks at the foot of it. Since it was still a little early for HoC, I needed a palate cleanser, so I watched the 1995 Sense and Sensibility with Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson (did you know Hugh Laurie was in that?!). I immediately fell into an awful British accent in my head and ugly-cried when Kate Winslet got married. You’d think that that’s all the Jane Austen a person could take before lunch-time, but I was slowly losing touch with reality: I proceeded to watch the entire Emma BBC series, and by the time it finished, I was convinced that it was 1789 and I, a gentleman’s daughter with 1000 pounds a year.

Everything suddenly went dark, and when I woke up, I was sitting on the floor holding an empty coffee mug. I tried to take a sip and began to cry again. People were talking in the street outside, and I tried to remember what trees looked like.

There was a knock on the door, but when I opened it I realised it was my closet. Still, I checked if someone was there and grabbed my warmest coat from its hanger. Is anybody else freezing in here?! I went to my window and closed it. Immediately my room went from icebox to sauna and I had to open it again. Outside, a plastic bag was drifting in the air and for some reason this too made me cry.

I remember that I checked my phone around 7pm because my floor-mate was texting me about some commotion coming from my room. Apparently someone was blasting T-Swift’s “Style” on full volume? Weird.

Somehow it’s midnight and I’m standing on 116th and Amsterdam. How did I get here?! When did I put on pants?! I look up into the night-sky and see Jupiter shining in the zenith. I breathed in the cold, grease-filled air and felt a single tear frozen on my cheek. It didn’t matter anymore: I had made it out alive. I had made it to HamDel.

Good luck with the housing lottery via Shutterstock