Alyssa J Freitas

January 22, 2020

What I've Been Reading Lately, Vol. IV

It's been a while (about 5 months) since my last "what I've been reading lately" post, so it's high time for a recap!
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Here are all the books I've been reading and what I think of them

The Widow of Wall Street by Randy Susan Meyers

I consistently like reading books and watching movies and tv shows that involve people losing their money. I think it stems from the great fear I have of losing all of my money and want to see how fictional characters respond. In this novel a woman trusts the wrong man and they experience a rise and wealth and a devastating fall together. I gave this one three stars - pretty average, nothing that grabbed me or was especially memorable. 

The Vexations by Caitlin Horrocks

This historical fiction novel was wonderful. It's about a group of siblings and how their lives unfold in La Belle Epoque Paris. The sister of Erik Satie (a famous composure I knew nothing about before this) goes through her own trials and tribulations that are wrapped up in and influenced by the choices of Erik. I don't want to give too much away, but this got a four star rating from me. 

Sarum by Edward Rutherfurd

I. Love. Edward. Rutherfurd. I can't say this enough. You've heard my descriptions before about sweeping novels that cover years in a certain place, with amazing stories that intertwine. Well, this is it. Again. And as good as anything I've read of his. Five stars, as always.

Gravity is the Thing by Jaclyn Moriarty

This was a bit out there. A group of people get sent chapters from a self help book when they're young and it continues into their adult life. The authors of the book invite them to a seminar and the madness unfolds from there. There's romance and existential crises and all that. It takes a little while to get into, but I enjoyed it overall. Four stars. 

The Chain by Adrian McKinty

I flew through this book in a day. It's a thriller where there's a series of kidnappings, all dependent on one another. There's a big twist, but I did see it coming. Not much to say without giving it away. I give it three stars and it's good to pick up if you need a pallet cleanser. 

After the Flood by Kassandra Montag

This is a climate change fear book. The world is flooded because of melting ice caps (scientifically correct? Who can say) and a mother and daughter fight to survive. There are colonies and terrorists and you're on the edge of your seat, rooting for them to make it, while reading. This novel gets a four star rating. 

Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man's Fight for Justice by Bill Browder

I most likely would not have picked this book up if it wasn't for Looker's book club. This book follows Bill during the start of his career as he realizes the investment potential in Russia during the privatization of businesses. From there, things unfold and the Russian authorities are revealed to be a crooked lot, to say the least. Four stars. 

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

I enjoyed it. I didn't love it. Though looking back at my review I gave it four stars, so maybe I liked it better than I remember? It's about a group of people who go to a wellness retreat for a variety of reasons and it turns into a very dark experience. In this one there is a twist that I 100% did not see coming. 

The Gifted School by Bruce Holsinger

A new school for gifted students is opening. Everyone thinks their child is gifted. The community dissolves from there. Another novel with another twist, and I only got it about a chapter before, if that. The writing was solid, the characters were alright, and I gave it a three star rating. 

The Capital by Robert Menasse 

I really wanted this to be a book that I loved, but alas it didn't capture me like I thought it would. The story starts out strong and a bit whimsical - then it lulls and doesn't pick up again until the very end. I love stories that have multiple characters that all intersect without being clearly related, and The Capital gave me exactly what I was looking for there. However, the style of writing can be confusing without the use of parentheses and the connections among characters don't come together in a satisfying way.

What have you been reading lately? Any recommendations? Come be friends with me on Goodreads here!

-Alyssa J

January 15, 2020

10 Tips For Work Travel

I travel frequently for work. You've seen it in my monthly recaps and you know it's one of the things I love about my job! Getting to see new places and switch up my environment keeps me sharp and creative and...exhausted. Over the years I have figured out how to make business travel bearable and, dare I say it, fun. Here are my top tips (in no particular order) for how to play the business travel game.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Here are the top tips that will help you be a world class business traveler

Only pack a carry on (and make it small)

I never bring a suitcase. Never ever. You may remember how I packed for a week in Europe in a backpack, and the same principles apply. When I'm gone for 1-2 nights I simply pack a backpack (this is the one I use) and for longer trips I pack a duffle bag (this is similar to what I use) that can fit under the seat in front of me. 

The reason this is important is because you are going to be traveling from the airport, to the hotel, to your meetings and you want something that isn't fussy. You also don't want to have your luggage taken from you because there isn't enough overhead space. 

Keep your makeup bag packed

Having your go-to products ready in travel size in your makeup bag makes packing quicker and you less likely to forget anything. Do yourself a favor and buy doubles and keep it in the ready position.

Invest in pieces that don't wrinkle

And if you do bring something that wrinkles, do yourself a favor and iron it the night before your meeting so you won't be scrambling. 

Buy access to TSA Pre-Check

There is no reason to take your shoes off and your laptop out of your bag. Get yourself a known traveler number, connect it to your company booking system and all of your frequent flyer accounts, and claim your VIP status. 

Charge your devices while you're waiting to board

You don't know how many hours you're going to be sitting on the runway when things inevitable go wrong, so do yourself a favor and prepare. This goes for your phone, laptop, headphones, Kindle, and the like. Also, remember to keep a standard pair of headphones in your bag for watching tv through the airplane system. 

Travel the day before when you have meetings, and aim to leave a 2 hour gap between your last meeting and your flight

It's better to be safe than sorry, so avoid doing day trips when possible. 

Explore where you are

You have to make the most of work travel because otherwise it is a complete drag. At night, get out and explore the area. Save some travel guides on Pinterest before you fly out and then when you're there decide what you want to see. 

It's even better when you can turn it into a mini personal trip (like Casey and I recently did!) to take advantage of all the time you've spent getting there. 

Sign up for all of the loyalty programs. And if you can book with your own credit card, do it!

I have reached gold status with Hilton, gotten upgraded to first class on United, and earned tons of credit card points through work travel. It's allowed me to make my personal trips even better and I highly recommend signing up for every loyalty program and trying to stick to a favorite airline and hotel chain to maximize your rewards. 

Request your Uber early

It takes forever to get an Uber when you're leaving an airport. If you go to the same ones frequently, you will figure out exactly when to request your Uber as you are walking to the curb to time it perfectly. They're always going to take longer than they say they will. 

Keep a smile and positive attitude going, even when things go wrong

So many things are going to go wrong. So many. From delays to cancelations to diverted landings, you're going to experience it all. Stay calm, recognize that it's not life and death, and keep smiling :)

What are your top tips for work travel? 

-Alyssa J

January 8, 2020


New year, new series! If you have read my monthly recaps you know that I spend time at the Met. A lot of time at the Met. And I was thinking since I spend so much time there, why not share the experience with you?
The goal is to visit every section of the Met and share with you pieces and stories that stand out to me. I'll be using the hashtag #findmeatthemet and chronicling it all on Instagram.

This weekend I did my first session on 19th and early 20th century European painting and sculptures. You can check it out on my Instagram highlights here.

Something I'm considering doing is writing a Back in Time post to go with the section. For example, I came across this interesting couple and would love to do more research on them...stayed tuned for that post!

If you have any requests of what you'd like to see, leave a comment or send me a message on Instagram. I'd love for this to be a collaborative project and look forward to seeing all of the Met with you over the course of the year!

-Alyssa J

December 31, 2019

2019: Year in Review

Writing this year in review post is so much easier since I've started doing monthly recap posts! I've written yearly posts for 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and now 2019 - it's pretty wild to see how long I've kept the blog up and am so proud of my work here. This year was full of changes and I am so happy with all that I got to experience.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Check out why 2019 was the year of change

I started out the year celebrating my birthday with Joe at the Freedom Tower. I loved getting to see my favorite place in the world from a new vantage point. 

I became obsessed with Hamilton and finally splurged to go and see it - amazing. 

My favorite trip of the year was going to California with Lady. We had so much fun and I would love to travel with her more in the future. 

I wrote some of my favorite blog posts this year, including doing major research for a Back in Time post. Those posts take the most effort, and unsurprisingly they're the ones I am most proud of.

More NYC love. What can I say? The first half of this year was all about spending as much time in the city as possible...before making the big move!

Working with Dennis at Yukon is such a fun challenge! I went to my first trade show with Yukon, as well as taught my first in person course and am proud of the work I've done with the company.

Also in the professional realm, I left IBM and joined Looker! That was a big change that could not have worked out better (Google acquired Looker less than a week after I signed on...need I say more?).

Addison graduated high school and I am a proud big sister :) 

I MOVED TO NYC IN 2019!!! This is a personal highlight of the year. It's been a dream for so long and has absolutely exceeded my expectations. 

And, of course, the best thing to happen in 2019 was getting engaged to Joe <3

I read more pages of books in 2019 than any year since I've been tracking (beginning in 2013). Reading gives me such joy and helps me expand my mind and ways of thinking. I couldn't be happier that there's a branch of the NYPL two blocks from the apartment. 

Joe and I celebrated our engagement with a weekend in Hershey Park and we had a great time. 

I've spent so much time at the Met and feel like I'm living a dream every time I walk across the park for yet another visit. 

Going to Disney with Casey was absolutely awesome and another wonderful trip of the year. 

I got upgraded to first class, a bucket list item!

Papa and I went to the Veterans Day Parade and had a blast together!

Joe and I went to a bunch of concerts including Mister Wives, Tame Impala, and Andrew Belle, as well as saw Tom Segura perform at the Beacon Theater. 

As you would have seen in my December recap post yesterday, the Ozmen's are in the US and it was such a joy to spend time with them. 

I've also spent hours with my girlfriends and am grateful for the wonderful friendships I have. So many smiles in 2019!

-Alyssa J

December 30, 2019

December 2019 Monthly Recap

We did it! A full year of monthly recaps. This was a ton of fun for me and I definitely want to continue in 2020. Alright, let's dive into December and be on the lookout for my 2019 yearly recap tomorrow.

Click to read now or pin to save for later! Check out what I was up to in the eventful month of December

At the end of November I went with Addison to his place of work, Nickelodeon Universe in the American Dream mall. It didn't make it into the monthly recap because it happened after I posted for November, but it was so fun that I had to include it here! The roller coasters are crazy and we had an awesome time running around. It's still so new, and there were no lines.

We decorated for Christmas and the apartment looked so cute! We got it all to fit perfectly and it was so festive.

I went to a tree lighting at Lincoln Center called Winter's Eve, and the best part was that there were tons of food vendors all offering dishes for $4. It was delicious!

In work world, I went down to Florida a few times for events, including a TopGolf meet up. We had a great time talking analytics and playing golf. Another work related item was the last WISE event of the year in New York. There was a great turn out and I am so glad to be part of the organization.

Joe and I went to Bryant Park to look around the market and got a scrumptious giant s'more. There's nothing like food vendors during the holidays!

I went to the Met three times this month - once by myself, once with Ally, and once with the Ozmen's (more on that below!). The fashion exhibit was a real standout, as was the Making Marvels special exhibit. I also found an entire hallway dedicated to snuff boxes and spent time in the Dutch exhibit, naturally.

Sheetal and I had a wonderful hot chocolate date, this time at Blue Stripes in Greenwich. The Nutella hot chocolate was to die for.

This is the season of holiday parties and the CloserIQ and Looker parties were back to back. Both were wonderful!

Chrystalla and I had a date at the food hall under the plaza and got great pasta dishes. It's crowded on the weekend, but highly I recommend it. We also went to see the Rockefeller Christmas tree and were glad to check it off our list Christmas bucket list together.

For Joe's birthday dinner we continued our tradition of visiting a new steakhouse, and this year was Smith & Wollensky's. It was scrumptious and we loved the atmosphere.

I went with Joe to his hometown the weekend leading into Christmas and it was so fun to be all together as an engaged couple! For Christmas, I went up to MA with my family and met the sweetest puppy...I may be changing my tune about dogs after all.

Now to come back to what I alluded to before - the Ozmen's are here to visit! They are our family friends from Turkey that I grew up while they lived in the US. They moved back to Turkey and we visited 8 years ago, but hadn't seen them since. It was a joyous reunion!

Ally and I had a sleepover in the city and it was the perfect day. We went rock climbing together (I was able to do a 5.9, which is a new record for me!), went to the Met, and cooked dinner together. It's so special to see one another because it doesn't happen nearly as often as we would like.

This was an action packed month! I am so grateful to have experienced Christmas in the city.

-Alyssa J