John Casey witnesses the stories of New Yorkers, whether in his chair or taking his writing workshops.
When John Casey Couldn’t Work Here Jack’s Barbershop in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, which was closed for several months due to the pandemic in early 2020, made Sustainable Journaling Project, a four-session Zoom workshop. Its emphasis? Be simple Write every day. Mr. Casey is a shining example of practice; He has been writing daily for the last seven years.
Mr Casey now works shearing with regular teaching journaling workshops for individuals and groups, including, most recently, a transmasculine group. Mr. Casey made the transition in 2014, the year he began journaling and also enrolled in barber school. It was “an extremely busy year for me,” he said.
Mr. Casey, 54, lives with two roommates in Prospect Leffert’s Garden, Brooklyn.
Holy place I wake up around 6am and take a puff of Dulera. I have a lung disorder called bronchiectasis, which results in me having a chronic cough that has been very strange over the past year. After that, I will do my yoga practice. Usually I do some holy choral work. I was a religious Catholic growing up, and it’s one of the favorable things I took away from that experience. I keep a mason jar of water in the fridge overnight because I have heard somewhere that drinking cold water in the morning is good for metabolism, which may or may not be true, but now I find myself craving cold water in the morning . Every other Sunday I take a testosterone shot. I would do this right after getting out of the shower, when the body is clean and the risk of infection is less. I’ll take it in the morning because if I do it at night, I’m afraid the adrenaline rush will keep me from sleeping. I’ve been doing it since 2014, and it’s still scary.
ritual of writing From about 7:30 to 8, I would write about the previous day in my journal. I think the best time to magazine is in the evening, personally, but I usually get too tired to do so. Morning works for me because I am alert and can still remember the previous day. I’m on the ADHD spectrum, so reviewing the day before helps with my executive functioning. It also helps me remember things that might have bothered me the day before, or good things that happened that I’m grateful for and want to pay attention to. I journal digitally, one entry for each day, and each month has its own file. On the first day of my holiday of every month, I will read the previous month’s entries. I guess we don’t have a lot of rituals in Western society, but this is one ritual that I really like: to commemorate the passing of a new month.
eggs, news If I’m ending a period of intermittent fasting, I’ll have breakfast between 8 and 8:30. One of my favorite breakfasts is soft boiled eggs, which I think is the best way to prepare eggs. I’ll almost always be scrolling through the headlines and checking local infection rates as well. I want to be able to pass that information on to the rest of the barber shop workers. When Delta Edition was sending out alarms, I had to send a group chat asking everyone to return to masking. I have come in the role of making people aware of what is happening.
Habit Basically, I am sharing ways to keep journaling simple and at the same time talking about the value of doing it every day so that it becomes a habit. It seems to me that some people use social media to document their lives, but making posts isn’t great for record keeping and doesn’t provide the room for reflection that writing a journal entry does. I try to schedule classes for Sunday mornings, which is often when people are free. If I’m teaching a class, I’m going to spend at least an hour before I start reviewing my notes. After it’s finished, I’ll take some time to edit my notes and write follow-up emails.
Accompaniment I often get a haircut or call home or get a haircut on Sunday afternoons, so after breakfast I’ll check my barber gear to make sure everything is charged up and I have a clean There are towels. I recently got a haircut for my housewife who lives on the second floor upstairs. By that time in the afternoon I had switched from group work to Chet Baker, as he and I are both fans of Chet Baker. I try to adapt the music to what I think a client might be.
haircut society About once a month I’ll go to New Jersey and get my mom a haircut. I also used to give haircuts to my father, Bill, who passed away in 2018. He had Asperger’s, so it was difficult to talk to him. But getting her haircut was a good way to give her a safe place where she could be free-associating. This is what I love about being a hairdresser: People, regardless of their functionality or social comfort level, feel this safe space where they can talk about anything. It was great to have such an opportunity with my father. Same with my mother.
Call It was the summer of 2014 when I literally woke up one morning, opened my eyes, and thought, “I should be a hairdresser.” That was also the year I started talking about my gender dysphoria and decided to move forward with the transition. As I was learning to be a hairdresser, I was realizing how valuable it would be to provide a safe space for people in the gay community, especially those who were non-gendered. I’ve been cutting my own hair for a very long time, and I’m sure it has everything to do with gender dysphoria and feeling uncomfortable asking the barber for what I wanted. When you don’t conform to the gender, it’s often really hard to communicate to strangers how you want to present yourself.
catch-ups I would talk with my mom, Eleanor, and occasionally with my two sisters, Ann and Sarah. Recently, I went to the South Slope to see my friends and their baby. I appreciate having a car, just to be able to head out to New Jersey for a quick trip to see my family.
productive down time I will come home on time with friends and prepare some food, as I have work from Monday to Wednesday. After 9 my brain is pretty useless, so I can do a little journaling or watch a part of a movie. It is rare that I am sitting there; I’m usually doing something else while watching a movie, like repairing a face mask or doing laundry. I think having gender dysphoria has hindered my ability to mature for a while. I always feel there is a need to make up for the time lost.
thought puff My journaling in the evening is always very brief – quick notes, quick summaries of the day. The next morning, I can look at what I wrote the night before and elaborate on it if necessary. I always love to take a few minutes to review the day and kick it off. I can end the day with a glass of whiskey. Right before I go to bed, I’ll make sure I have a mason jar of water in the fridge and then take another puff of Dulera.
Sunday Routine readers can follow John Casey on Instagram @sustainablejournaling or @johncaseythebarber.