Friday, November 5, 2010

Marathon Friday

So this morning I was up a little after 7:00, as per the usual, and had this whole list of things that were going to happen today. As it turns out, I have enjoyed two movies and it is just noon. Hurray for days off!

I'm shaping up the apartment, doing laundry, getting my nails done, and generally treating it like a Sunday since this Sunday is not going to be a normal Sunday.

Sunday is Marathon Sunday. Over 40,000 people are running 26.2 miles through all 5 boroughs of the City of New York. I ran last year and had an amazing experience (see photo) but it is not something I needed to repeat.

Although I've been a runner for decades, I  do not enjoy what other runners call "long distance." I enjoy distances under 10 kilometers / 6.2 miles but many people run half marathons (13.1 miles) or marathons or even further-- distances that boggle the mild. Running a mile is an accomplishment. I find that my body talks back when I train more than 20 miles a week which just doesn't cut it when going face to face with 26.2 miles all at once.

Much like losing weight, there are a few basic principles to meeting your goals.  When it comes to training for the marathon, you run several times a week without ever missing your long run (over 10 miles) each weekend and a distance run (6-10 miles) in the middle of the week. Yes, we know what to do but actually doing it can be much more complicated. Well, not necessarily complicated but simply may not happen. Or when it does happen, people can get injured from pushing too hard too soon.

Marathon Sunday is an emotional day. Seeing how many people have done the work to lace up sneakers Sunday morning is impressive. Those of us who are not running are also involved. The whole route is lined with spectators, parties, and volunteers.  It is a great day to celebrate our friends and neighbors who support the runners and who are the runners.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

An Ideal Work Day

When I was in high school, I remember talking with my uncle about how he really works for two hours on a good day.  His definition of working was rather lawyer-ly: "work" is the time where you are completely focus and doing something that only you can do. The rest of the time you are going through the motions.

At the time, he was the director of a bank. His hobbies include golfing, tennis, and cooking. Doing all these activities with his wife-- along with writing and managing his portfolio-- keeps him wildly happy now that he is in his 70s. It seems, in some ways, that he also has applied this theory to his life in retirement.

At the time of this conversation, I didn't had a job other than being in school. What my uncle has to say was intriguing and abstract, staying with me. Each time I've been at a job, I think about this idea. Those two hours a day are what make you happy to be there. If you don't have them, you can easily feel bored at work.

Yesterday, I volunteered for 4 hours working on a mailing to raise money for a non-profit organization that supports people who are brave enough to leave harmful domestic situations. They are so well organized and make it so comfortable to pitch in and help out that I love showing up.

There is another kind of satisfaction-- one that is different from the two challenging hours-- that comes from a repetitive task. You start with a pile of undone and it becomes a pile of done.

The best work days are a combination of the satisfaction from completing the straightforward tasks that build confidence in competence and the satisfaction from challenges that you are uniquely prepared to resolve.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

An Ode to the iPad

 Since I used to work at an internet company, some people think I am a technology wizard. The reality is that am more of a reader and less of a computer person. Although I've always loved aspects of technology, nothing kills your love of being wired faster than over 200 emails a day. The peace and quiet that comes from having under 25 emails daily, needing to respond to under 10 is something I will miss about my not-working life. It just feels so civilized to talk on the phone and meet for coffee.

One of the big pluses to going back to work is that my better half promised to give me an iPad when I got a new job. We got it together on Saturday and I've been spending hours every day enjoying it. Even the bugs that were common when computers were less sophisticated are bringing me pleasue. Although the iPad is amazing, the flaws of newness triggers nostalgia.

Yes, we've been able to get samples of books off Amazon for years, the process of downloading the first 30 pages of a new novel and reading it on a subway ride just thrills me. I have a few dozen classics that I downloaded for free as well as a few books I purchased.

Reading the paper, responding to emails on a full keyboard, looking a photos, and generally having a full sized laptop screen with many laptop functions feels like a big quality of life improvement in New York while it is probably less exciting elsewhere.

Last month, one of my friends visited New York after having moved to Portland a year or so ago. She talked about how she doesn't have a lot of waiting time in Portland because she walks, takes her bike, and sees people she knows so often. In New York, waiting is an everyday part of life. We wait for public transportation and sit while we are taken to our destinations. We wait in lines for coffee, groceries, movie tickets, free events, and for other people to show up. We get places early because you never know what can happen on the way. As a result, having lots of good reading on you at all times makes me giddy with joy.

If you know of any apps that are particularly fun, please let me know.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

New Job!

The premise of this blog is that I don't have a job. Since Monday is my first day at my new job, I need to figure out what to do with this site.  I certainly cannot be writing about work. I can write about the funny people in my neighborhood. I can write about experiences in the city in general.

The new job is an excellent fit. The people are lovely. The company has a fantastic reputation. The work itself sounds fun challenging, encompassing a lot of different skill sets in an environment I see myself thriving in. As with any job, it won't be without it's challenges but these topics will not be part of this blog anymore.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Open Spaces, Open Water

Although being in the middle of Times Square is just what happens sometimes when you live here, I don't particularly enjoy these urban hubs. My day-to-day existence in New York involves as much time in the open grandeur of this little island off the New Jersey coast as possible.

I like to spend time in parks, museums, and libraries. These spaces that I enjoy the most are also spaces that I've help maintain over the years.

When I lived in Chelsea, a few blocks east of the Hudson River, I would go running in the morning on a broken path. In the decade since I lived there, it has greatly improved. I would see very few other people while the white noise of the cars along the West Side Highway mixed with the water rocking softly against the piers under my feet.

The part I loved the most about these mornings was seeing the ships traveling along the Hudson.  In a time of computers and intellectual property, here was a reminder of the deep waters surrounding this island. All the waterways converging around it, made this island the ideal port. New York being a port led to it being a city, to the center of industry, and now a center of thought. Those lone majestic ships once traveled in the same river as part of a crowd.

The world changes the world. We adjust. We adept.

Photos: Isla and Isla (detail), Yoan Capote

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Well Written Blog Post from Someone Else

This is a link about prep and expectations from a hiring manager. My favorite part is when she reminds people to check attachments since once someone attached an essay about her cat. The essay is at the bottom of the post. Love it!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What My Wednesday Looks Like

After 5 months of being unemployed, I am used to the way days blend into each other and how relative productivity can be. I've been up since 5:40am.

At 6am, I walked dogs with my every-Wednesday-morning-we-run friend. We did not run for a great reason: she is recovering from a recent marathon which she ran fast enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon. This is sort of the running equivalent of being ranked in tennis.

It was light out when I got back to the apartment at 7am as my partner-in-crime was just waking up. We had coffee together, figured out dinner plans, and said goodbye.

8am I returned the latest Netflix, picked up the paper, and spent the next hour reading-- bringing me to 9am. At which time I wrote emails, read favorite blogs, and check out links posted by friends on Facebook.

10am brought a phone call from a friend about hanging out on Friday afternoon. We caught up for about 15 minutes. The call reminded me of a filmmaker I meant to look up. Read interviews, watched YouTube clips, and generally was satisfied by my new knowledge by 11am.

Made a snack and coffee number two before writing this post while ignoring the 8 other tabs I currently have open in the browser.

What else is going on today? I want to finish reading "The Good Earth" by Pearl S Buck (Pulitzer Prize, 1939), will lift weights at the gym, will get a manicure in preparation for an interview tomorrow, practice French with a downloaded podcast, meditate for half an hour, and have dinner with friends.

I wasn't expecting to be unemployed at all but when the reality hit me in mid-April I planned to enjoy it as much as possible while putting one foot in front of the other towards finding the next right job. It still feels like I'm in a holding pattern, but I've embraced it for what it is.