A Day With Madame Architect Assistant Editor, Caitlin Dashiell
By Caitlin Dashiell
7:15am: The alarm on my phone hasn’t gone off yet, but my five-month old kitten, Padfoot, makes sure I’m awake to feed him. I often go back to sleep briefly after this. The “five more minutes” mentality from grad school hasn’t worn off yet.
7:50am: I’m up to grab a shower and get dressed before I make a bagel and oats to take to work. My drive to work passes by the building my fiance, Gabe, works in, so we often go in together. It’s nice having that hour or so in the morning together before we start in fighting our respective fires for the day.
9:15 am: I get to the office, and emails and tasks are waiting for me. I have the fun opportunity of working for three great bosses at two different firms sharing the second floor of an Art Deco building in Houston’s Second Ward. The beginning of my day is often taking stock of which projects need the most attention on any given day between the two firms, Metalab and Janusz Design, and planning out (roughly) how to best split up my time.
11:30am: This is the time of day that I realize I only have an hour left until lunch, and so much I want to get done. On Tuesdays, I have conference calls or job site meetings that consume my time until 11:30am, so this is the point in the day when I reassess which drawings need to get sent out to clients or consultants by the end of the day, or which emails need my attention, before grabbing a bite to eat.
12:30 pm: Time for lunch, and also transcribing for Madame Architect! While I am not a proponent of eating lunch at your desk, I also love using my lunch hour to take myself out of digital built space and listen to/transcribe an interview that will go up on the website soon. If you looked at my correspondences with Julia, you’d see that I’m in constant awe of the similarities that I can draw between my experiences and what I get from each interview. The empathy these stories build has no limits. I’m wildly grateful to have a job that teaches me and constantly pushes me to ask more thoughtful questions which is why this work over lunch doesn’t feel like a job at all.
1:30pm: Time to get back to office work. I’m honed in on a few projects right now - two residences, an RFP for an artist we collaborate with, and a big project Metalab is consulting for that is nearing the end of schematic design - and that means that I’m flying in what feels like ten different directions trying to resist catastrophe. Over the course of the afternoon, I’m spinning plates to answer emails about cost estimates, fixing drawings to issue for permitting, and scripting how an artist’s idea for a system can be designed, fabricated, and realized, while also staying in budget. This learning curve, coming from school is huge, but more rewarding that I could have hoped for.
6:00 pm: My bosses, Joe, Andrew, and Marisa, believe strongly in work-life balance. This means that almost every day, we’re out of the office by 6pm. A wild departure from school, I get to do fun and challenging work I believe in, and I get to go home while the sun is still out. By six, I’ve left the office and it’s a twenty-five minute drive to pick up Gabe at work and get back to the apartment. I fill up my water bottle and try to right any wrongs I’ve subjected my body to over the course of the day (ie, I only drank one 24 oz bottle) before working out.
7:30 pm: Gabe and I are runners - he ran in high school and has continued the hobby, and I started running in undergrad to stay fit once I was no longer dancing - and every other night we go to the gym. Right now, we’re training for a half marathon in October, so we’re trying to run at least four or five miles at a time. Now I’m learning to play tennis, and he’s picking it back up since playing in high school, so we use tennis as a mild cool down after running.
9:00 pm: Both my fiance and I are used to eating late, so we’re likely having dinner around 8:30 - 9:30pm. We meal prep for a few days out, so on a non-cooking day, we’re eating by the former, but on any cooking day, it’s the later. Gabe is a fantastic cook. I’m still learning, but he’s taken well to my decision to become pescatarian after grad school, so we’re both learning the best ways to cook fish. After dinner, I may transcribe more, or I update stock on the Esty website my dad and I run while my fiance and other roommate choose a documentary or show to watch.
11:30pm I’m in bed before midnight most nights - a wonderful departure from school. I’ve found that I’m most solid on about 7 hours of sleep, so I try to hit that sweet spot whenever possible! It’s all about figuring out what works.