The Extra Crispy Team's Morning Routines
We don’t meditate
I spent a good chunk of my morning today reading about the morning habits of someone else. Lee Tilghman (also known as Lee From America) shared her morning routine on her blog, and guys, it was a lot. Tarot cards, hot lemon water, meditation, no looking at screens for several hours. I’m not even making fun of her, as many are wont to do. I’m genuinely impressed by how much Tilghman does during the first few hours of the day. Granted, she doesn’t have to be at an office every morning, but with her 5:30 a.m. wake-up time, I bet if she had to get to work by 9 she could probably still do most of this stuff. It got me thinking about how we, the Extra Crispy editors, do each morning during the week. We do spend our entire days thinking about breakfast, so naturally our morning routines must be pretty interesting. Or are they? Let’s find out.
Ryan Grim, Editor in Chief
My girlfriend’s been using a bedside alarm clock with a lamp that slowly gets brighter to mimic the sunrise. She’s writing a story on it. I’m not loving this machine and hope it’s temporary. I don’t use an alarm. I like to go to sleep in the dark and wake up in the dark and shuffle to the shower in the dark. Being awoken by a lamp that gradually gets more intense over a 30-minute period feels unnatural, like we live in a skyscraper in Hong Kong, the year is 2090, the sun is dead, and the lamp talks to us and encourages us to be more productive and exercise, I don’t know, it’s weird.
Another big part of my routine is Libby. She’s a giant, rude, beautiful puppy. She sleeps in bed with us most nights. Every morning she requires “morning pets,” as we call them. She crawls from the foot of the bed up to the pillows and receives scratches, hugs, and kisses. We kiss Libby on the lips all the time and it’s fine and normal. Then she loudly scratches the door, which means she has to take a shit. Half the time it’s my turn to walk her, which becomes less fun as it gets darker and colder, but she’s so happy to be trotting around and saying good morning to the neighborhood pups and shitting, and her joy is contagious so it all evens out.
I take the train to the office and go straight to the coffee machine and fill up a large cup with hot water. I walk back to my desk and put three generous pinches of loose leaf sencha into a tea infuser and wait a few minutes until it’s the color of Mountain Dew. I drink it quickly, about 16 ounces in two minutes usually. If it’s a hectic, ack ack ack sort of morning I might do another cup of green tea, this time from a bag, and I’ll add honey because, not to be a fussy tea diva, but the tea from the company's public bin is not as good as my private stash of sencha, and you should be especially kind to yourself in the morning. Some days I have a banana, some days I don’t.
Rebecca Firkser, Culinary Editor (that’s me, hi!)
I’m prone to waking up on the earlier side. Naturally, that would be somewhere between 6:45 and 7, and I get to turn off my alarm before it rings. However, two to three mornings a week I’m jolted awake by the “marimba” tone on my iPhone at 5:45. As I use this sound for all 10 of my daily alarms (I know, send help), marimba is slowly becoming extremely triggering to me, and I think for the umteenth time that I should really change it. Instead of changing my alarm sound, I splash water on my face.
I then put on whatever workout clothes I’ve draped over a chair in living room the night before. If I’m lucky, they’re clean. Usually, they’re leftover from the previous day or two’s workout and don’t smell great. But who cares! Plus, if I smell, maybe no one will stand near me on the subway on the way to the gym. Sometimes I’ll take a bite of the “workout cookies” that live in my freezer before I go. They are clumps of dates, nut butter, coconut, and oats and are probably not as nutritious as they pretend to be. I’ll also sometimes chug a Nespresso. When I get to the gym, I go to a weightlifting class or run on the treadmill. I still think the treadmill is kind of boring, but it’s really the only way I feel safe running when it’s still sort of dark outside.
I sometimes pack my clothes/food for the day in a bag, shower at the gym, and get to work around 8:20. But usually, I finish at the gym between 7 and 7:20, and head back to my apartment. I’ll put on a pot of coffee, shower, and get dressed. I put whole milk from a cow in my coffee and the first cup always tastes the best. Sometimes my boyfriend has already gotten up at this point and makes the coffee, which means he’s gotten the first cup. I try very hard not to be grumpy about that and don’t always succeed. Then I pack my breakfast (either yogurt or oatmeal) and lunch (that used to be yogurt or oatmeal, or sometimes an apple, but recently I’ve been better at making sure there are leftovers from last night’s dinner to take. Eating lunch is important and if you’re in a blind rage by 4 p.m. it might mean you’re not eating enough for lunch. It also might mean you’re having a bad day. Food might not solve that, but it could be a good start.)
On non-gym mornings, I’m up by 7. I make a pot of coffee and get dressed while it brews. I pack my breakfast and lunch. I pour a cup a coffee and again revel in how good the first cup is. I’m out the door by 7:45 or so, and hope in vain that the trains are working properly. Inevitably, the trains are slow, but at least that means I listen to a full podcast or two while I think about how much I want to eat breakfast. Then I write about breakfast for the next several hours.
Margaret Eby, Senior Culture Editor
For someone who works at a breakfast site, I would not call my morning routine particularly robust or interesting. I’m not a morning person by nature, plus I’m someone who has a lot of trouble with insomnia, and with sleeping, so it varies based on how I’m doing that day. Best case scenario is I wake up well-rested around 6:30 a.m. after going to bed around 11 p.m., hit snooze once, feed my cats, pull on my workout clothes, and go for a run. Then I take a shower, make a cup of coffee in my one-cup French Press (I have a bigger one but I live alone and because of aforementioned sleeping problems and rampant anxiety, I try to limit myself to one or two cups a day), get dressed, engage in whatever patriarchal arbitrary beauty standard things I feel like that day (earrings, lipstick, vitamin C serum) and run out the door to work.
In actual fact, many days it doesn’t work out that day—I’ll wake up for no reason at 3 a.m. and have a hard time falling back to sleep, then my cats yell at the door starting at 6 a.m. and I’ll sleepwalk to feed them, drift back to sleep, and wake up to NPR blasting from the clock/radio I’ve had since freshman year of college at about 7:30, too late to go on a run. In winter, I often find it hard to lure myself out of bed, so I might put on the light that’s supposed to imitate actual sunlight on, too. I probably snooze until 7:45, then try to get out the door by 8:15, but it’s usually more like 8:30. That’s fine to get me into work when the trains are running as they should (shakes fist at Andrew Cuomo) but sometimes when the fire/sick passenger/door won’t close/whatever other thing is happening, it means I land at my desk more like 9:15. The one thing I’m really consistent about in the morning, aside from hygienic requirements, is that I always make my bed, no matter how much the rest of my room is in disarray. This is because I am a member of the Jolie Kerr fan club and think she is right that this small thing makes things feel better even if the rest of your life is a total mess.
I don’t usually eat breakfast at home, but I often grab a banana from the free fruit stand at work and eat it along with another cup of coffee while I settle into work for the day. I have never meditated or had a green juice before 9 a.m., and I have only hiked at the dawn hour once when I was extremely jetlagged in the way that I could trick myself into being a morning person.
Kat Kinsman, Senior Food and Drinks Editor
Before I got sick, the notion of a morning routine seemed so very distant to me. I was aware they exist, for they have been the stuff of newspaper and magazine profiles since time immemorial. "How I Get It All Done" and "How Glossy Celeb with 100 Assistants Attempts to Appear Rumpled and Mortal"—all aspiration and false humility. Just, like, blaaarrrrf. But then my gut went kablooey and my organs were all covered in endometrial tissue that I had to have surgically removed and suddenly, I had to take my body seriously. Very seriously. And that has to start first thing in the morning. Pre-sickness, I would wake up, throw cream-laden coffee into my face, nod at my dogs, and run out the door. I'd also feel like crumbly, ashen hell for hours after, wonder what the heck was going on, and yet in no way take action.
That all changed with the help of a great nutritionist who explained to me in no uncertain terms that breakfast is not optional for me if I don't want my gut to eat itself. So here's how it goes now: My husband kisses me goodbye before my iPhone alarm wakes me up, and usually I can fall back asleep. It's lovely. When it does finally toll for me, I immediately check texts, emails, and possibly Twitter if I'm feeling emotionally stable enough to deal with D****d T***p's morning ramblings. Generally, I'll shower, brush my teeth, and throw on a caftan. I wander downstairs, greet my exceptionally enthusiastic dogs, pour some black coffee (usually into a Twin Peaks mug because it makes me damn happy), and rummage through the fridge for meat or fish left over from the previous night's meal (or bacon if we scarfed that all up), leftover sweet potatoes (I've learned to make extra), random vegetables, arugula, and eggs. I throw the meat in a skillet to warm it up, fish it out, and put it atop a bed of arugula in a bowl. The potatoes and vegetables go in the fat that's rendered out (I'll add olive oil if there's not enough) and while they're cooking, I'll buzz a couple of eggs in the food processor. Taters go out and join the meat, eggs go in. Scramble or omelet, toss that in the bowl, mix it in, salt or hot sauce as needed, and take that and the mug to the sofa and eat it while fending off the dogs and watching Good Morning America, which my husband has left playing on TV.
When I've finished that, the bathroom has usually de-steamed and I'll pour more coffee and balance it on the bathroom sink while doing a three to five-step facial cleansing routine, apply BB cream, take my ADHD meds, and before they kick in, I take a deep breath and draw on my eyeliner wings. This may take an attempt or two. I try to be kind and patient with myself. Next, a second tooth-brushing, then lipstick, then dress in something that's not a caftan, locate some footwear, and have between one and three panic attacks as I attempt to make sure I have everything I need to leave the house, and I pet and say goodbye to each dog, often waking and annoying them in the process. Sometimes, I'll have to come back to the house. Again, I try to give myself permission to not self-excoriate over it too much. The dogs, however, are thrilled to see me again. It helps.