Monday, July 03, 2006

a typical day in my life

I wake up at precisely the right moment. I used to wake up all groggy, but ever since buying a sleeptracker watch, I've woken alert and refreshed. (The watch ensures you never wake from a deep sleep.) I trot downstairs to start my routine: an hour on the exercise bike before work. I used to hate riding, but now I love it; I rent DVDs from Netflix to watch while I cycle -- usually engrossing TV-series, and some morning I can't wait to ride, because I'm so anxious to find out what happens next. Currently, I'm watching "Elizabeth R" with Glenda Jackson.

After the bike, I start the coffee maker and jump into the shower. I'm one of those idiots who sings in the shower: usually old standards. This morning it's Me and My Shadow. I tapdance in the shower and make little splashes. I also like to shave after letting my beard grow for a few days. I experiment with wild facial-hair designs -- excursions into grooming that I'd never let escape the bathroom: Mephistophelian goatees, Wild West sideburns, archaic muttonchops. Then, like shaking an etchasketch, I clean my face. No one but me the wiser to my antics.

I remember it's Friday, casual day at the office. Yes! I can wear jeans and my Converse high tops, a great ensemble for the Spring weather.

Dressed and back in the kitchen, I make the perfect cup of coffee. Nowadays, I only use the coffee maker to heat water. I then pour the water into my Aeropress. It's an amazing device. It looks like a giant injection syringe, without the needle. You put coffee grounds in the base, pour in the hot water, and then push down the plunger. This magical, smooth coffee squirts out the bottom. I like the small amount of effort this requires -- not enough to be an annoying task, but just the right amount to trigger a feeling of accomplishment, which makes the coffee taste all the better for being earned.

I sit in front of the computer screen and sip my coffee. Poor Lisa, being a girl, still has half an hour of prep before she'll be ready to go. But since I don't have to curl my hair or apply makeup, I'm set. I can relax and visit some of my favorite sites. I also keep half an eye on the TV, watching the Today Show, absorbing just the right amount of the news.

Once Lisa is ready, we head for the Subway. We're both dog lovers, so this journey of a few blocks is safari for us. We ooh, ahh and aww at all the puppies out for walks. Like kids, we giggle when we see one pooing.

Usually, there are funny characters on the train and we whisper about them: the Hasidic Jew with a girlie magazine peeking out from behind his prayer book; Or the smartly-dressed business woman with toilet paper stuck to her shoe.

I have to leave Lisa in lower Manhattan. She prepares for my exit by pulling the crossword from her handbag. She can sometimes complete them in ten minutes. It's been really cool watching her improve. When she started doing them, about five years ago, a single puzzle might take her a few days. Now she can finish while I eat a sandwich.

She has her activity; I have mine. While I walk the few blocks from the Subway to work, I listen to my iPod. Sometimes I listen to music -- Bach, The Beatles, Sinatra -- but nowadays it's mostly books on "tape." I'm currently listening to a fascinating history of the English Language. Did you know that Noah Webster is partly responsible for making American English sound different from British English? He wrote primers that taught kids to spell by sounding out each syl-a-ble. These books were incredibly popular, and they prompted a generation of American kids to reject the clipped vowels of their contemporaries across the pond. We say sec-re-tar-y, while they say secret'ry. I'm so into the book that I slow my pace so that I can listen a bit longer. There's still ten minutes before I have be at the office.

Today at work, I'm teaching a programming class. I love to teach programming. Most of my students are designers, and they're afraid of code. But I've taught this class for long enough -- and worked out enough techniques -- that I know I'll win them over in the end. It's exciting to watch their eyes light up as they master concepts that formerly intimidated them. I really feel like I'm changing their lives. It's a high!

Lunch time is Big Salad time. I go to this deli that makes custom salads with yummy, fresh ingredients. I start with a base of (healthy) dark greens and request grilled chicken, cucumber, peas, corn, red onions, carrots and kidney beans. I'm proud that I don't ask for dressing, and that I've learned not to miss it. But I do ask for a topping of parmesan cheese. Occasionally, if I'm feeling naughty, I get a rice-crispy treat for dessert.

Once work is done, I walk downtown a few blocks to rehearsal. My theatre company is working on "Much Ado About Nothing," and tonight we're staging some scenes in Act III. I love flipping my brain from programming to theatre. Somehow, the two very different disciplines feed each other. The precision of code tightens my directing skills. The improvisation of rehearsal pushes me to experiment more as a programmer and as a teacher.

After rehearsal, I have to ride the train home by myself. Which means I get to read! Since my iPod is being scholarly at the moment, I'm veering the other way with print: a P.D. James mystery. I get so into it, I almost miss my stop.

On the way home, I stop at The Islands, my favorite restaurant, to pick up dinner: jerk chicken, rice-and-peas, and curried vegetables for Lisa. We'll eat in front of the TV, tonight, watching "Deadwood" on the TiVo.

After the show, we're both sleepy, so we head upstairs to bed. But not before I end the day the way I started it: coffee -- decaff this time, thank you very much Aeropress! In bed, I strap on my sleeptracker and snuggle with Lisa. She falls asleep first. I plug in my headphones and listen to twenty minutes more of my audio book. Then I feel my starting to doze. So turn off the iPod and roll over.

My last thought: tomorrow is Saturday!

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