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Wasting time with January Jones

There’s a list of 13 Truths by writer Ayesha A. Siddiqi, and the first truth is this: The things that you “waste time on”… There’s a reason you’re drawn to them, explore the root of that impulse and follow where it takes you. What is wasted time, if not a break from what we’re supposed to be doing? There is something to be examined in the time spent not on crossing tasks off our to-do lists, but on procrastination, leisure, wandering... Avoiding a deadline in favor of a midnight walk, the scent of flowering trees activated by the night. Laying in bed, gazing at dust particles illuminated by a ray of sunlight. I’m romanticizing, obviously, but look at something as unpoetic as scrolling Twitter – I thought I was wasting time, but it was there that I discovered Saddiqi’s truths. These moments and observations that occur in the grey area of anti-productivity could be the most meaningful, and for La Catena, we’ve decided to dive a little deeper.

Throughout the time warp that was the year 2020, January Jones emerged as a beacon of light amongst all of the strange, dark news online. We were all going through it, and January was right there with us, sharing snippets of her daily life – veering into absurdity – punctuated by her sharp sense of humor. Early on in the pandemic (we’re talking March 2020 here…) she seemed to really understand and embody the collective mood of the moment when she posted a video of herself drinking a can of Coors Light through a straw, dancing in sweats and a bright red LED face mask (and her Carolina Bucci Royal Oak). The caption read: “Skin: 5, Marbles: –167.” Marbles became the unit by which she was quantifying her mood, and it was comforting to know that someone like her, like us, had lost them completely.

I caught up with her early this month – she’d just gotten home to LA from shooting with Nick Cassevetes on his upcoming film “God Is a Bullet.” It was her first acting role since before the pandemic and she was quickly thrust back into a life, momentarily put on pause, defined by endless days on set. She was buzzing off the energy from this recent project, but when we spoke, she was able to rewind and reflect on when she had no work to do, nowhere to go, and nothing but time. Was it time wasted? She’ll be the first to tell you that it wasn’t.

January Jones plays pool, and in her left hand the Carolina Bucci - Royal Oak Audemars Piguet

Brynn Wallner: First, tell me about the watch.

January Jones: It’s actually so funny. Audemars Piguet was the last place I went to before LA shut down last March. I remember walking in and we elbow bumped instead of shaking hands, kind of making light of it, like, oh, there’s something going around, we better not touch. I tried on the watch, bought it, and then a week later, everything shut down and I was like, oh god, this is really serious – why did I just make this huge purchase? What is happening? But at the same time, it felt good because I was able to buy this for myself knowing that I’d keep it forever or pass it down. And in the midst of everything, I’d be in my sweats.... but I’d wear my watch and feel a little bit better.

BW: What drew you to the Carolina Bucci Royal Oak?

JJ: I was always a fan of the Royal Oak. I wanted a yellow gold version, but when I contacted AP, they said they didn’t have one available. “But,” they said, “we do have this collaboration watch with Carolina Bucci. It's brushed gold, but… it’s sold out.” And I was like, oh well thanks letting me know about the sold out watch [laughs]. But shortly after, the representative I was put in touch with found one – and I was like, I’ll take it! I was really excited.

BW: You got lucky!

JJ: Yeah, anytime there’s a collaboration piece or something special that won’t be continuously produced, it’s like a piece of art. It feels special.

BW: I love its feminine edge.

JJ:  You know, besides the Carolina Bucci version, I’ve never seen the Royal Oak on a woman. I like wearing it. It feels feminine, yes, but it’s also heavy.

BW: It’s got some weight!

JJ: Right. But it’s so funny, wearing a watch, especially during that time. Like, what is time? Why am I wearing a watch? It does not matter.

A set of books that January Jones read. This image is taken from the Carolina Bucci Royal Oak - Audemars Piguet interview for LaCatena
January Jones sitting in a blue dress, reading a red book. The Carolina Bucci Royal Oak - Audemars Piguet is glowing graciously in her hand

BW: Literally. What is time? It’s so wild how everything was so warped in 2020. I imagine you’re typically very busy as an actress… and with all that extra free time, it must have felt strange.

JJ: I learned a lot about myself during quarantine last year. Time… I’m not as good at it as I thought I was. I needed to have some routine, just to feel partly that I had some control over the situation. I didn’t want to feel like I was on vacation – I couldn’t... because there was so much fear attached to it. I kept busy, and did all the things that I didn’t have time to do before at home.

BW: Like what?

JJ: Organizing my bathroom, going through all my beauty products, giving away things I don’t use anymore, finding old makeup that has probably expired years ago… this a project that I would spend a whole afternoon or morning on. I went through my closets, organized it all. I shed a lot of weight in my house. To clean and get rid of things I didn’t need or that I was holding onto for no reason...  It was a very therapeutic process. I also found things I forgot I had, sentimental things.

BW: That must have felt so good.

JJ: Yeah, I didn’t want to just spend my time sitting on my phone. Scrolling through IG and the news gave me more anxiety.

BW: What kind of screen time were you clocking in?

JJ: Ugh, I don’t even want to tell you.

BW: Haha, it’s all good.

JJ: Well, okay, when I’m working it’s fine. This past week I was down to 2 hours a day, working on the film. But at the beginning of the pandemic I was up to, like, 8 ½ hours – and I was like, Jesus, that’s my whole day.

BW: We were all in the same position.

JJ: I wanted to get away from that, so I found I had to force myself to either sit outside by the pool or sit on the couch with a book. I read a ton. I read a lot anyway – I need to read to fall asleep. I went through all my books and got rid of the ones I didn’t want to re-read… our neighborhood started a little sharing library at the corner. But this past year, I got through all of the Agatha Christies and re-read the books I loved in my 20s, just finding a different perspective on them now. I read a lot of memoirs about all kinds of people… I read, oh gosh, the UFO Files.

BW: I love that you read so much.

JJ: I know a lot of people were more productive than I was, taking up online education. I didn’t learn any new instruments… I got tap shoes at one point and realized I had no idea what I was doing. I picked up a lot of things that I put right back down, and I didn’t feel guilty about it at all. I did a lot of cooking – I didn’t do any bread, but – I went through my favorite cookbooks, made a lot of comfort food. I tried to work out, but without a class or a teacher, I didn’t do very well at that – so I did a lot of swimming, yoga, because you can do that outside in the yard. Things like that.

BW: That all sounds so nice and restorative.

JJ: In the “before times” these are things that I would have considered a waste of time. Like, oh I don’t need to organize this…

BW: Was there anything you truly felt like you were wasting time on?

JJ: The only thing I can think of was the phone stuff… the worrying about the current state, the fear and anxiety... I had to let that go pretty quickly because it was affecting my mood. I was also home-schooling my son, and there’s that responsibility. I got really into my set routine of waking up, getting him ready for school, doing the chores, feeding the dog. I had a routine, but when I had time to myself, I didn’t want to waste time. I wanted to do something productive. Just for my head, my mental space.

BW: I’m glad you were able to get things done that you couldn’t prioritize before because of work.

JJ: I just went back to work recently for the first time, shooting a film, having no time. Either you’re in your hotel or on set working 16/18-hour days. It was good for me, in a way, to get back on an airplane and go to another country, but your time isn’t yours at all. After a year of not working, it was scary to do that again. Now that it’s done, it’s like, okay, I did it, it’s fine, I did great, I could totally do that again… It’s funny how adaptable humans are with change, but also how scary it can feel when you’re faced with it. Then, once it’s over, you’re like, why was I so worried about it?

BW: You just gotta rip the band-aid.

JJ: 100%

BW: What’s your idea of fun?

JJ: Well, we had to shift what ‘fun’ meant to us a little bit. But we love going to the beach, anything to do with the ocean. Luckily, we live in an area that’s full of nature – we could go hiking and ride our bikes and spend time by the ocean. I know a lot of people didn’t have that, so we definitely felt super lucky.

BW: Were you able to get out of your neighborhood at all?

JJ: We did a lot of little road trips this past summer. But just being home… We have a great community of friends. We’d have people over to swim, play sports. I needed more things to entertain the both of us, so basketball became a big thing to do together – watching it and playing it. I got rid of a sitting room in the front of the house that never gets used and put in a pool table instead, and we got really into that. Just little activities that we could do so we weren’t just sitting around staring at our screens.

BW: How old is your son?

JJ: He’s 9 – he was going through 2nd grade and part of 3rd grade during all of this.

BW: I can’t even imagine how hard it was for him.

JJ: He hated it, but he’s been back at school since January, and he’s so much happier.

BW: And I’m sure he returned to school with an improved jump shot on the court.

JJ: Yeah, he’s at basketball camp now, too. He’s so happy.

BW: What else did you guys do?

JJ: I loved having little game nights. For my sister’s birthday, we just had a couple people over and did a little murder mystery thing. I don’t need much to have fun. We used to go to concerts and theme parks – Universal, Disney Land – I went to Hawaii… Laker’s Games… That’s all super fun, and I can’t wait until we can do that again soon, but we didn’t need that. I don’t know if my son would say the same, but…

BW: It’s the little things.

JJ: Yeah, just being barefoot in the yard, dancing around. Or having girlfriends over and watching Mariah Carey’s Christmas Special and drinking wine… again, I don’t need much.

BW: Did you pick up any hobbies?

JJ: I’m super into jewelry, I love collecting watches and jewelry. When I gift myself, I put a lot of research and thought into it. I ordered all these vintage design jewelry books and started thinking about maybe doing something like a collaboration. I haven’t done anything yet, but just to think about it…

BW: That’s half the battle.

JJ: As an actress, not having a creative outlet for such a long time was hard on me. I needed something, so I was thinking about jewelry a lot. And also producing – not only acting, but producing – I put that into process. Little things like that so I can have somewhere for my mind to travel to.

JJ: What got you into jewelry?

BW: In high school, I was always making beaded necklaces for everyone at school. I loved it. I picked that up again when I was in LA and had the free time… and I got a little more complicated with my designs. I’m looking forward to one day collaborating with one of my many friends or people that I admire making jewelry. I have a lot of ideas! Collaborating with someone would be a nice place to start.

BW: Baby steps!.

JJ: With any kind of art, it’s difficult to create something new time and time again. With acting, you want to move onto anything you haven’t done before, explore a new character. With design as well.

BW: The struggle to find originality is so real.

JJ: You don’t want to just repeat yourself all the time. To have to constantly come up with something new… It's not easy.

BW: Well, I’m excited to see your new film. And I’m glad you were able to explore all of the things you couldn’t have been able to do in an ordinary year. Things that would ordinarily be considered a waste of time ––

JJ: There is no waste of time! You use it how you want to. Napping, reading books, taking bubble baths... those aren’t wastes of time for me. Anything that makes your heart feel good is worth the time.

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