I never thought I’d be one for working form home. I always liked the idea of going to the office and then going home. They were two distinct places and never the twain shall meet…mostly. Even that mostly was never that big a deal. Obviously home life would find it’s way into the office and the occasional day working from home always felt somewhat liberating for not having requiring a commute. Yet for the past 14 years of this pandemic, working from home is exactly what I’ve found myself doing. And you know what? It’s not that bad.
I have found myself well positioned to handle not only the economic impacts of this pandemic (of which I am grateful), but also the social and familial aspects. The economic side is quite simple: With the exception of ops shifts where I have to be physically present in the TSC (the days where I get to make things happen in space), I have a job that can easily be done from anywhere. Again, very grateful for this. It hasn’t all been smooth sailing though. I have found myself to be equally productive at home as I am in the office, though the impediments to productivity are different and thus have required some adjustments.
Prior to the lockdown I could probably count on one hand in the last couple years that The Peanut (through Flower) called to ask me a question or tell me about some new and exciting bug. Now all he has to do is come downstairs. So now I know exactly when packages or mail arrive. Or when a truck starts tearing up the street. Not only that but there are all the other home issues that suddenly crop up. “Oh, it’s lunch time. Hmmm. Better clean the kitchen from top to bottom before making a sandwich.” On the upside though, I have finally cleaned up the basement which, in turn has become my work enclave. Also there’s a bar.
But these distractions, while different in nature, are really no different than being in an office and having someone stop by to shoot this shit, or ask a question about a problematic and difficult to deal with project. Though I suppose the latter still happens regularly…
Probably the biggest downside has been all the conference calls/Teams meetings. I have never liked conference calls to begin with. I find them tedious and difficult to pay attention to, and that’s when I’m locked in a room with other people actively engaged in the conversation. And, of course, it doesn’t help that I work on not only a work laptop, but also a fancy new gaming desktop that I built at the beginning of this whole ordeal. Though if I’m being perfectly honest, it’s actually that old office standby Microsoft Solitaire that provides the majority of distractions during ‘working’ hours (which these days are…well…anytime?).
While the work side of things has required some significant adjustment, the family side didn’t change all too much. On that front I know that I’ve lucked out amazingly. First off I’m not single, living alone. While I would have no issues overall with that, I also know myself well enough to know that there would be no schedule. There would be no plan. Day and night would be meaningless. Even a roommate would necessarily counteract that. But being married, at least there’s someone there to kick your ass out of bed…eventually. Probably the biggest saving grace, though, is that the boys are still too young for school. The Peanut was in a preschool program but we decided not to send him for the fall. Even when he was in it it was a half a day. It was easy to tell him that school was over for the season and then just move on with our lives. It did get a tad difficult because after a while it became patently obvious that he was getting cabin fever from not being allowed to go anywhere. You know things are bad when a four year old begs to go to the grocery store and get out of the car and go in the store (he also knows he gets a cookie there, or at least did). I started taking him to Petco with me because even pre-pandemic it was always relatively empty.
Oddly enough the boys actually helped keep me, not only on some semblance of a ‘normal’ ( for me) sleep cycle, but Flower and I both agreed that their very existence meant that we couldn’t start happy hour 15 minutes after waking up. I didn’t work for the entire month of May due to funding issues, and I can tell you, as I’m sure a lot of other people are feeling, those days just blead together in to some kind of day mush that never really seemed to have a beginning or an end. The downside to having kids during this time is that I was unable to sit on the couch playing video games all day partly because one must limit a small child’s screen time, but mostly because Assassin’s Creed and Gears of War are not appropriate games for a four year old to watch…or so I was told.
Probably the biggest thing I’ve missed, and one thing I’ve slowly been trying to scrape back, is the small little ‘routines’. I used to try to spend early Thursday mornings at Rising Star, and though I may still stop by for a coffee here and there, I can’t sit and read/write/stare off into space as I previously could. I suppose I could have taken the coffee down the street to a park and done that there, but it just didn’t have the same feel. Gazelle, The Materialist and I managed to keep Breakfast Club going by moving to Zoom until patio’s opened, but now it’s getting cold and patio’s are going to be closing. And also The Materialist is leaving Cleveland so now we must find our third. But other things like lunches with Clarabel, or Friday Lunch Group are no more. At least for now.
This is, hopefully, a once in a lifetime event and though the world will be inevitably changed by all this we keep pushing forward. Somewhere, sometime, is the other side of this. What we’ll look like when we get there, who knows. But I suppose we’ll find out eventually.