I love hearing about people’s days. It astounds me how close I can be with a friend, only to stop dead in my tracks 10 years into our friendship and audibly realize, “I have no idea what you eat for lunch every day.” Not to mention, what time they wake up, or what they do for exercise! Mysteries abound!
I can't get enough of the minutia, and I'm baffled by (other) freelancers' lifestyles, so I decided to share some of my daily moments with you here:
7am: When I was interning as a hospital chaplain, I learned that hearing is the last sense to go as people are dying. That stuck with me, and I took comfort that people can still hear and understand even as their consciousness has seemingly slipped away.
Using that logic, I assume that hearing is particularly meaningful during our transition times: between sleeping and waking, for example. I try to stimulate my hearing before any other sense in the morning, so I turn on a song immediately. I go between this sweet Spanish prayer to Mother Earth, or the Maha Mantra. I lie in bed while I'm listening and either have some kind of half-awake inspiration journey or fall back asleep.
11am: Spanish class: A year ago, I decided to commit to a month of Zoom conversations twice a week and see how it went. It's been almost 12 months now. My Spanish teacher and I always find something exhilarating to talk about in the worlds of science, psychology, politics, or our childhoods. We have so much in common and I’m so grateful she’ll tackle a complex topic with me even if my vocabulary isn’t fully there. On my best days, I’ll forget I’m speaking Spanish and I’ll end our session having expanded my mind threefold. (On my worst days, I forget how to conjugate to go.)
I’ve never met my teacher—she lives in a small town on another continent—but at this point she knows me as well as a close friend. Our relationship reminds me of the lovely movie Language Lessons, and if I keep thinking about it I’ll get very emotional.
I was a barista for many years and remember how easy it was for people to tell me all about their lives because there was an implicit boundary (and an actual counter) between us, and they saw me every day. We can take these intimate, meaningful relationships for granted because they don’t fall into the category of “friend” or “family” (I’m also thinking of my hairdresser and manicurist—relationships I’ve had now for years) but they’re really special.
I can confidently say that my Spanish teacher has had a profound influence on my life, for the person she is and all that she’s shared with me, and she’s said the same of me. There’s a very sweet sisterhood that has really nothing to do with learning a language, but I thank Spanish for bringing me to her.
2pm: If I need to do administrative work/emails but I’m desperately not in the mood, I blast Oxytocin by Billie Eilish. It’s perfect for summoning shooting-star energy for extremely boring tasks. If you’ve ever received a “Sounds great, thank you!” email from me, it was likely composed to this song.
4pm: Yoga. I think I see someone I know, so the entire class I'm trying to figure out how to address that situation.
8am: I’m always trying to drink less coffee. I've only successfully given it up once when I lived in Santiago, Chile and Nescafe was the only coffee available there at the time (I was a tea-drinker that year). Thus I know it can be done, yet I'm joyfully addicted. I appreciate that I have a high tolerance for caffeine, but what freedom it would be to function without!?
1pm: I adore working surrounded by strangers at cafes or bars, but I have the habit of listening to everyone’s conversations. There are two guys sitting near me speaking Spanish and I recognize a lot of their slang; they must be Chilean. I like solving little mysteries about people. I used to play a guessing game with myself in my food service days, predicting exactly what people would order, which songs they would start singing along to, how much they would tip. And I was ALWAYS right. I actually started scaring myself with how well I could predict the behavior of strangers.
4pm: I look forward to going to the grocery store, and take my time with it. I go bonkers in the spice aisle. Last year I challenged myself to make fancy impressive dishes that I never thought I could properly execute before (my trick: read the recipe!) and now I invent my own dishes.
At the moment it feels right for me to eat plant-based, but I’m hitting a wall when it comes to cooking. I have it in my head that there are not a lot of fabulous dishes out there that don’t involve animal products (or their faux versions, yuck!). If anyone knows of any fancy impressive plant-based dishes, PLEASE prove me wrong!!!
9pm: Dinner! I eat dinner late. The Argentinian schedule works well for me: wake up early, stay up late, nap around 4pm.
12pm: Go on a walk and listen to audio messages from my friend Amanda. Last week, I told her via audio message that I’m in a Life Spring season. She reciprocated with a great story about how her dad used to do fundraising for building projects, and the thing that always needed the most money and time and advanced engineering is the part that people never see: the foundation. While it's more fun to think about light fixtures and finials, the understructure gives the building its integrity. “And that’s the work you’ve been doing in your life the past three years,” Amanda concluded. What a gift to have such a wise encouraging friend!
2pm: Pick up dry cleaning and a few things from the bodega. These two establishments are so well-loved in my neighborhood. Both of them are covered in postcards and photos from customers, with sweet words like "We're moving but we will miss you so much!" Another example of how important our community relationships are, and how much we lose if we head toward a city that runs on delivery.
3pm: I paint while sitting on the floor. It's more comfortable for me to be in a contorted position like lizard than sitting in a chair. This isn't a brag; I think it's some sort of blood flow problem.
7:30pm: I write down some more ideas for a book proposal that I’m going to put together later this month. I haven’t told my agent about it and I’m nervous—it’s not the kind of thing I normally write (whatever that means). I’m trying to embrace my own evolution. (I've been trying for three years.)
9am: Read while coffee-ing. I'm currently reading a book called The Wayfinders, which is incredible. I picked it from a list of recommended books about Australian First Nations.
10am: I take a barre class twice a week. It works for me, unlike running or CrossFit. Dance is my favorite form of exercise but I haven’t gotten back into it since classes canceled in Ye Olde Early Days of the Pandemic. My favorite forms of dance allow for a lot of improvisation and flair: I seek out Caribbean, samba, and modern. I am so impressed by the precision of salsa, flamenco, and ballet, but I make a ton of mistakes and I prefer dance styles that are more generous toward errors.
2pm: I try in vain to write. A flexible schedule is good for grocery shopping, bad for the way my brain works. My creativity in fact suffers when I don’t have a lot of limitations. Give me deadlines, give me rules. (A guaranteed way to get me to not do any work is say “Just let yourself be inspired, no rush on this!”)
For this reason, my career goal for years was to be a men's fashion writer or designer because menswear has so many rules, limits, and traditions, all of which I found so exciting. In contrast, my weekday has no rules or limits and it's actually more creatively confining than liberating! My brain is toast today.
8pm: Dinner date with friends in Manhattan: a sprawling night of luxurious conversation. I used to do a lot more socializing when I lived in Manhattan, and sometimes I get sad that my social patterns have changed. It’s hard to say what the main culprit is: Pandemic? Time? Age? Brooklyn? I’m not sure. I know it all ebbs and flows, and sometimes I’m in a particularly social season and I’m positive that will return. My mom has more friends at age 72 than I think she’s had in her whole life. I don’t endorse “Making friends as an adult is impossible” (I couldn't make friends as a kid!) but I do know that friendships shift with different factors, and I’m trying to see that as a natural normal thing, rather than a byproduct of something I’m doing wrong.
12pm: Therapy: I’m greedy with a big network of helpers. I have a therapist, a career coach, and lots of different mentors and healers—my home team. I fully embrace my interdependency.
1:30pm: Lunch! I’m an indulgent eater; I’ve never been captivated by salads. A nice plant-based lunch is kitchari with lentils.
2pm: Call my mom. We love to gossip and we laugh a lot. She's very curious and remembers every detail about my friends, which makes for fun conversation.
3pm: See what’s playing at the Nitehawk Movie Theater. I love going to a weekday matinee, especially on a rainy afternoon. I don’t like being the only person in the theater—the fun of the cinema is the shared experience—but one other person is just perfect. I saw CODA on a summer weekday and snuck in some champagne. There was one other woman in the theater so I gave her some, and we cried together. I hope she's doing well.
11am: Sunday is my busiest day; I call it Reverse Sabbath. I start the morning at church in the East Village, which is wonderful and filled with jazz music. My church’s motto is “All are welcome, no asterisks.” Not to be too simplistic about it, but I believe our loneliness epidemic would be tremendously improved if there were more communities like that.
After church, I go work for a few hours at a cafe nearby. I write this newsletter and any other writing that I have to do for the week. I relish the structure and even the franticness of having to get something done by a certain time.
11pm: One of my favorite weekly reality shows is available to watch online: bliss.