Origins of the “Commuter”

The more you read, the more you know, right? Right. I learned about the origin of the word commuter this morning. It makes perfect sense after reading it, but it was just something I never thought of before.

Not long after the [New Haven Railroad] line linked the teeming city to country homes in Harlem…a perceptive railroad superintendent noticed a new class of customer: the repeat passenger, whose to-and-fro trips to work and home represented a potential marketing bonanza. Seizing the opportunity, the railroad originated an imaginative fare structure of tickets based not only on a onetime passage or even a round-trip, but on unlimited rides for six months or a full year at a steep discount from the single-rate fare. The full fare was commuted, and with one bold entrepreneurial stroke the railroad commuter–in name, at the very least–was officially born.

- Grand Central: How a Train Station Transformed America, by Sam Roberts

I have to admit, I never pondered the etymology of the word before, I just grudge about the concept occasionally. Whose bright idea was it to make us city dwellers commute to work? How is it that it takes me an hour to get to a destination 7.5 miles from my apartment? Growing up on Long Island and watching family commute almost that long to get to work as well (by train, by car, you name it, no one had a commute of less than 40 minutes), I became conditioned to think that this is normal. And then I have friends moving to other places where they can drive or take a less-crowded train to work, and it takes them 15 minutes. Fifteen minutes! Seriously? It takes me almost 10 minutes from the front door of my apartment to the subway platform, and this person is 2/3 of the way to work already.

One day, I’ll live in a place where my commute takes less time than a full episode of Game of Thrones. Until then, at least now I can answer trivia questions about how the word “commute” came to be.

Fashion Post: Goodbye Ill-Fitting Clothes

It’s been awhile since I wrote about my slow progress in making my wardrobe smaller but better fitting. Since May, I hadn’t bought all that much, and I was fine with that. I got rid of a few things here and there, but wasn’t replenishing my closet. I’m pretty sure the green blouse below was the only thing I bought in June, July, or August.

splendid-salon-z-green-jersey-colorblock-blouse-product-1-5101167-836148565_large_flex

This month, though, I found myself saying “wait, why am I wearing this stuff?” more than once, so it was time for a little update.

First up: my raincoat. It was nice when I bought it…for $20, at Target, six years ago. It served it’s purpose, but it had lost it’s lustre (originally a nice dark navy, it was now just a washed out blue), and I wanted something that had a few more buttons higher up. The coat I had didn’t button until about six inches below my neck, which sort of defeated the purpose of bundling up to protect against the rain.

So this beauty from Kenneth Cole is on the way (well, the one I bought is a bit darker but I can’t find a photo of it). And thanks to HauteLook, I got it for $60 total, including shipping. I’ll take it! The new one hasn’t even gotten here yet, but the old one is already in the trash. I’m determined to continue the one-in-one-out policy for the forseeable future.

kennethcole_trench

And then yesterday my little spending splurge continued…I still had a $50 Visa giftcard from Christmas, so I decided not to count the first $50 I spent after work towards my budget. I stopped by Victoria’s Secret for some new bras (yeah, seriously, one of my “why am I wearing this ill-fitting garment” moments revolved around a bra). And thennn I went to Uniqlo and bought a nice black tee for work and two pairs of skinny jeans. Promptly returned home and discarded old bras, old tee, and two pairs of Old Navy jeans.

So in one month I got rid of six ill-fitting things and replaced them with much better quality items. I went over budget a little bit, but since I hadn’t spent any money on clothes last month I was able to justify the whopping $5.00 over that I ended up being. In a fit of “must get rid of all the things!” I also grabbed three H&M summer dresses that I didn’t wear at all this summer, and one pair of Banana Republic cords that I bought on a whim last year even though they were two sizes too big. Those guys are all in a bag ready to be donated.

No more whims, no more “well, it’s on clearance!” justifications. I’m getting there.

We go together like hockey and brunch.

I said this wouldn’t become a wedding-planning blog. And it still won’t. However, besides recovering from bronchitis, I haven’t really done much of substance in the last week besides stumble upon our first wedding decor purchase.

An entire box of trading cards from the 1990 NHL season. If you know me at all, you know these are perfect.

I only have instagrammed shots. Sorry.

The entire box (well, minus a few packs) was only $10. D and I officially have 535 trading cards to use for various decor. It was fate. We were visiting my parents for the weekend to celebrate my grandmother’s 80th birthday, and were sitting on the deck early on Saturday talking about various things. D mentioned that it might be fun (and cheap) to get old hockey trading cards to use as our seating cards, and I immediately got on board. Later that day we walked by a sports collectible store and decided to check it out, finding a lone box of NHL cards amongst the piles of NBA and MLB ones.

My heart skipped a beat when I found Super Joe.

I’m sure the guy didn’t expect to sell the whole box, but there you go. Being the excitable person I am, I was sure to tell him we would be using them for our wedding (and that it was the first purchase for said occasion, to boot!), and he said he was happy they were going to “a good cause”. I’m not sure what a bad cause would be when it comes to buying trading cards, but there you go.

So, have you ever attended a hockey-themed brunch wedding? I haven’t, but it seems like I’ll be having one, and I’m pretty thrilled.

Now I just need to figure out how to get names and table numbers (well, table names, if we use NHL trophies as titles) onto such dark backgrounds. I’m thinking punching a hole in the top corner and threading in a ribbon with the text on it, or maybe using a label-maker font on white paper and neatly covering up the bottom half. We’ll see. I have time.

 

Adventures in New York: Breakneck Ridge

I’ve been afflicted with various ailments for the better part of two weeks, it’s been a blast. The day I got sick, though, I had a lovely day checking out wedding venues in the Hudson Valley.

The trip from New York City up the Hudson isn’t a breezy one (about 90 minutes each way to the area we were looking at), but it’s always a beautiful one. I can never get enough of that river! As I’ve been out of college longer and longer, the feelings I get about how much I miss it become less about the the social gatherings and more about the environment. Breathing fresh air, seeing some stars at night. Sure, it’s not the middle of nowhere and there is still a fair amount of light pollution, but it’s better than Brooklyn.

Anyway.

We got off the train at Breakneck Ridge, and the tricky part about Breakneck Ridge is that trains only stop there going in the northbound direction until later in the afternoon. That meant that if we wanted to get to the next place we were looking at, we’d have to hoof it to the next closest train station. After walking up a steep ridge, we were able to mosey through the woods much more leisurely. Looking back, I still shudder to think that I was considering wearing a dress in order to put my best look forward for potential wedding coordinators/venue owners. Thank goodness I wore pants.

Breakneck Ridge is beautiful. The hike itself is steep and apparently a very good workout (friends and D have done it before, I haven’t yet), so I was thankful there was a “bunny hill” version to get us to the next train station. It was still so nice, though, to be out in nature and climbing rocks and actually hearing birds chirp. That probably sounds juvenile, I know, but I can’t help it. I just need a nature fix every once in awhile.

So yeah, some pictures, almost two weeks late. I blame the fever, and then the shakes, and then the coughing.

breakneck1

Brook Trail – the easy-peasy one for people not interested in breaking their neck on Breakneck Ridge.

breakneck4

Fallen trees.

breakneck2

We walked by “The Ruins”…what they are ruins of, I don’t know.

breakneck3

More ruins.

 

Adventures in New York: U.S. Open Qualifiers

After complaining about how I don’t get out and do things anymore, I decided to do something about it. So the Friday before last, D and I decided to head to Queens after work and check out the U.S. Open. The first few days of the tournament are qualifying matches to prepare for the actual bracketed competition, so it is free to the public. I’d heard friends talking about it the last few years, and as a bonus, Queens is way easier to get to from my job than from my apartment, so it was a no-brainer to head there on Friday night.

By the time we stopped for falafel, got to Queens, and went through security (and D had to check his backpack full of bagels they’d been giving away at his office), we got to the outer courts just in time for the last few matches. We were able to grab seats on the bleachers behind one end of the court, with a beautiful view of the the setting sun.

It was a really entertaining match. Both players (Diego Sebastian Schwartzman and Albano Olivetti) were pretty evenly matched, requiring tiebreakers at the end of the second and third sets. They were a little double-fault happy, but overall, a good game to watch. The crowd was really into it (and fairly quiet!), and the weather cooperated.

The U.S. Open has a little “tennis village” set up in the area for spectators to walk through, with plenty of food, drinks, and official gear. Most of the places had closed by the time we got there (again, we just barely made it!), but it looked like a great way to spend an afternoon if you can play hooky for a day.

So, check that one off the bucket list!

usopen4

Walking on the boardwalk, unused 7 trains in the foreground.

usopen5

Olivetti serves!

usopen1

Happy campers.

usopen2

Schwartzman sizing up the guy he ended up losing to.

usopen3

Sun goes down, the lights come on.