Thursday, August 5, 2021


Very recently I transitioned to remote work. It was in of itself a big change for me, not just because it meant a radical change in my career, but also I have never had a remote job be my main thing that I do with my day.

I tidied my desk, did my best to purge the accrued pile of notes and post-it's, and more or less got to work. And for a couple weeks it felt okay actually, I was establishing some modicum of rhythm, making myself "dress" for work, creating a careful illusion of separation between "work" and "home."

And then, only two weeks into this foray, an unexpected, urgent family visit was scheduled, and something that was only supposed to be a week-long assignment became a whole month.

At the initial onset, I shrugged and said "Well, I am already working remotely, I will take my computer and the essentials and continue to work amidst all this." This sort of meta-remote work I presumed would be no trouble. I was quite incorrect. I made a temporary office on the second floor of my parents' home, in a room previously used as a personal office. The window had no blinds and faced east, the sun blasted that room for the better half of a day. The swivel chair was always slowly sinking. I would work downstairs in the kitchen, or avoid work in the mornings altogether to be out of the office during its more uninhabitable hours.

I also found that I had trouble blocking out "work" time. It's difficult to turn people away when you have been living far away and are an infrequent visitor and all they want to do is spend time together. And visits to this house are more often than not Bacchanalian. A blend of vague American and mixed European heritage predispose that household to a constant stock of flowing wines and beers, plates heaped with bread and red meat. It induces one to a stupor, but it is a communal, warm thing. Most of these foods evolved to be shared by families looking to survive long winters and economic strains.

Coupled with the stressors induced by the nature of our visit, I gloomily got very little work done. But towards the end I learned some things.

1. Remote does not always mean flexible.

2. It is important to carry objects that have, if no other purpose, the ability to make one feel at home and grounded upon their deployment and arrangement.

3. Lighting and airflow can make or break a workspace.

4. You really do have to just keep showing up.

5. The three dusty bottles of brandy I found in the kitchen pantry behind the sacks of flour are for cooking, not drinking, apparently.

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