The Weekly 7: December 7

by Jackie D on December 7, 2014

Thanks to my job and this blog I spend a lot of time on the Internet every week. The Weekly 7 is a list of some of the things I’m currently loving, articles I’ve read, awesome things I’ve found on Pinterest, etc, during the week. Sometimes I’ll throw in a photo or two of things I did during the 5 seconds I wasn’t actually on the Internet. Sometimes.
French Riviera1. I knew I was going to have a busy week and so I took myself on a date on Wednesday night to see some comedy at one of New York’s iconic comedy clubs. When stressed, in doubt, nervous, or just needing a break, I generally seek out something that will make me laugh.

2. Speaking of laughing, I will never, ever, ever tire of lists like this: “Women Real Tired of Your Shit in Art.”

3. Is anyone else obsessed with calendars? I must have been a calendar in a past life.

4. Guess what: I found out I get to go to Europe in January! More details to come. One detail for now: Swiss Alps. Currently looking through some of my previous Europe photos (one of them shown above) because it’s too early to start packing but I need to manage my excitement somehow.

5. So I’ve accidentally been super into serial killers lately (just one of those weeks I guess) and part of it is Gillian Anderson’s fault. Have you seen The Fall? First season is on Netflix. Don’t watch it alone at night when your roommate is out of town, like I did.

6. There is a permanent cat cafe coming to NYC. There is a really excited, exclamation-point-filled, cat-tastic blog post coming to this blog.

7. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you to listen to that podcast “Serial,” right? You’ve heard of it? Everyone else has already told you to listen to it? Good. Here’s an article about “Serial” on which we can all commiserate.

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Thank You Notes: For Time Gained

by Jackie D on November 26, 2014

grand central station“The way we spend our days is, of course, the way we spend our lives.” -Annie Dillard

If there’s one thing my awful work commute has done for me, it’s made me grateful. Being grateful is the only way I have been able to mentally survive that commute everyday. My roommates will probably read that sentence and find it hilarious because I hardly seem grateful when I’m talking about it — and yes, they have served as my primary audience when I’ve needed to rant about it at the end of the day, which is often. I love ranting.

Some days I am so tired and the commute is so awful that I almost can’t even stand to open my book. This has happened two or three times. It’s always a combination of things — the weather is bad, people are being loud and obnoxious, one of my connections is delayed, I don’t feel well, there are no seats, the train cars smell — and during those times I literally have to force myself to repeat over and over again the things I am grateful for — the reasons I am making this commute: I am thankful for a job that I love, I tell myself. I am grateful for a paycheck. I am grateful for a wonderful apartment. I am grateful for wonderful roommates. I am grateful for hot showers. For bathmats. For soup. For calendars. For good books. For long weekends. I always think I will run out of things, but I never seem to.

I’ve met so many new people since moving to New York last June and when I mention to them what my job is, they go, “That’s awesome!” and I say, “Yes it is!” and then when they hear about the commute I have to endure everyday they go, “That’s awful!” and I say, “Incorrect!” Well, for the first couple months I would actually agree with them and there would probably be a swear word or two involved. Now I see it differently.

I think the issue is that when we think about how long we spend on our daily commutes, we automatically classify it as time being wasted. I’ve never really heard anyone say, “Oh good! My hour-long commute gives me more time each day to get some reading done.” More time. Time being gained, not time being lost.

I try to think of it like that now. Time gained. I have 1.5 hours to spend on my commute each way — that’s 3 hours per day. 15 hours per week. 15 hours per week that I spent on a train getting from place to place (technically, it’s one train and two subway lines). Some days it’s longer than that — 3 hours is how long it takes if there are no delays, accidents, or acts of God (that’s how I refer to weather now).

I only get a seat on the subways about half the time. I have a seat on the train every morning, but not every evening. This means that sometimes I am able to read, or even work on my laptop, but sometimes it’s so crowded and I’m shoved between so many people that I don’t want to bother trying to balance a book somewhere, so I can only listen to something with my headphones. This means that I am constantly carrying my laptop, a book, a magazine or two, headphones, and whatever else I need on a daily basis between 7am and 7pm — extra clothing, my coffee mug, food, you name it. My back will never be the same.

This time spent in transit has become a sort of personal challenge for me, a chance to see how much I can accomplish with this specific amount of time and these imperfect conditions that I don’t have any choice but to deal with.

So far since making this commute for 5 months I have read over 20 books, dozens and dozens of magazines, and who knows how many blog posts. I’ve written handfuls of guest posts or freelance articles. I’ve written most of the recent posts for this blog on the train. I’ve made doctor’s appointments, paid bills, written thank you notes, written postcards, written birthday cards, shopped for snow boots, compiled grocery lists, talked on the phone to friends, caught up with work, caught up with sleep, researched weekend plans, looked up recipes, drafted e-mails, organized the photos on my phone, taken two e-courses, put books on hold at the library, ordered dinner for delivery, tried to figure out my credit card bill… I’ve even made a friend! (rare for me)

Basically, I have tried not to let this time go to waste. If it’s true that the way we spend our days is the way we spend our lives, and if it’s true that the way I’ll be spending my days for the foreseeable future is commuting for hours on a train each week, then whatever I choose to do during those 780 hours per year is a crucial indicator of the type of life I’m going to have.

I am writing this on the train right now, and it just started to snow for the first time this year and I forgot to wear a hat, scarf, gloves, or waterproof shoes. The person sitting behind me is listening to music on her headphones so loudly that I can’t ignore it, and she keeps kicking my seat every few minutes. I am grateful for a seat on the train today, I keep telling myself. I am grateful for wool tights lined with fleece. I am grateful for dinner, especially the delicious dinner that my roommate is going to make for us tonight, just because she wants to do something nice. I am grateful.

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Snapshots from a Business Trip in Canada

by Jackie D on November 23, 2014

10818908_10103143371999143_1741040674_nI’ve mentioned before that I think business travel is pretty strange – the ultimate work hard/play hard balance – and this month I got another dose of it. I traveled with my company to Montreal and Toronto for two events we were hosting and it was a whirlwind trip: I was in Montreal for about 24 hours, in Toronto for a little less than 48.

There were glamorous parts — experiencing literally the best meal of my life at a restaurant called Byblos in Toronto, speaking to a room full of journalists from super important publications (and handing them my business cards. So legit right now, guys) — but there were also unglamorous parts, mostly the fact that I got almost zero sleep and spent any free moment trying to keep up with answering e-mails and managing all of my usual day to day work tasks.

I imagine that this is pretty much just the usual drill with business trips.
10807794_10103143371979183_595652370_nAs far as my free time in each city went — I tried to make the most of it. I’d already traveled to Toronto for TBEX in May 2013, so I didn’t make much of an effort to see the city again this time around since I had so little time there (I went on a work e-mail marathon though – Canada is so generous with its free WiFi) but this was my first time in Montreal and I wanted to see at least a little bit of the city.

Our event in Montreal began at 8:30am (I was there at 7:00am to help prep), lasted until about 10:30, then I answered e-mails and did a bit of work until 11:45, then caught a cab to the Plateau Mont-Royal neighborhood, then literally just ran around as much as I could until we had to leave for the airport at 1:30. I also got to meet a fellow blogger in real life — Marie-Eve is lovely and her Instagram feed is pretty much just a winter wonderland of Montreal right now.

(It’s also worth noting that when my coworker asked the hotel concierges what she should see with her one hour of free time, they suggested the church where Celine Dion got married. They didn’t even skip a beat. I think I have found my people.)

Montreal is so beautiful (from the little I managed to see) and the people are so sassy and so kind, which is exactly my style of people. Also, Celine Dion. I really want to visit again.
10822330_10103143372034073_1670985169_nIn Toronto I met up with a blogging friend, Sarah, for two hours of beer, poutine, and all of the friendship. Sarah and I have been Internet friends for several years and this was the first time we got to meet in real life! From the moment she leapt (literally leapt, it was pretty athletic) into the bar and we said hello in person for the first time (cracking up as we did so), I was so comforted by how much it felt like we were meeting up for the 10th or 20th or 100th time.

Since my return to New York Sarah and I have been texting each other photos of particularly strange finds on Tinder, so – needless to say, this friendship (and, I guess, our love lives) are progressing right on track.

(PS: since I’ve started these “Snapshots” post, literally every single time I accidentally type “Snapchats from..” instead of “snapshots.” Social media is winning this fight.)
More Snapshots:
Snapshots the Cliffs of Moher
Snapshots from the Metropolitan Museum of Art

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