I went to work today for the first time in 5 months and it was like I have never had a job before.
Yeah so like most of the rest of the world, I left my office on March 16 and I’ve been working at home ever since. Most of the time I approach it like an adventure. I can work from Connecticut! The riverside! My friend’s house! Anywhere! But after a while I became accustomed to the environment I set up for myself at home.
Today I had a video shoot that required me to be there in person. I looked forward to it and had everything in place. I had scheduled the crew and talent, checked the weather forecast, and packed up my bag. It was only a half day, I knew everyone involved, and it was on the premises of my own actual job. Nothing about this project was new or unknown or had any element that would make me nervous.
But I had trouble falling asleep last night, and when George the cat woke me up at 3 AM, I struggled to go back to sleep. By 6:15 AM I was hollowed out inside and anxious knowing that I would be tired. How could I get through the shoot on such little sleep? There was no way to change the plan.
I couldn’t make my mind up about what to wear. I did my hair but realized I don’t have any hairspray. What little makeup I wore immediately rubbed off on my mask. I arrived a few minutes late even though there was no traffic. As I greeted coworkers I haven’t seen since March, I felt great affection for them but stood there awkwardly because there would be no shaking hands or hugging, and they couldn’t even see the giant grin on my face.
It felt like I was starting a brand new job on a different planet. By noon I was exhausted, not just from the lack of sleep from the night before, but from the mental energy it took to reacquaint myself to doing all the things I took for granted when life was normal. I have gotten used to changing from my night pajamas into my day pajamas and just shuffling into the other room to start my day. Sometimes I throw on a Zoom shirt and swipe some lip gloss on to pretend I made an effort. These days, all of my energy goes into the mental exertion it takes to do my actual job. I have squeezed out all the getting ready, driving to work, chatting with coworkers in the hallway parts of work life that fleshed out the day during the before times.
In the afternoon I had to take the kids to the dentist, because Stewart was teaching a class (also online), and I couldn’t change the appointments because…it doesn’t matter. Anyway, I joined a Zoom meeting from the patio table outside the dentist’s office building, trying to pay attention and contribute while also keeping my eye on my phone and the doorway in case the boys came out. My coworkers are amazing and they were understanding about it, but dividing my attention wasn’t ideal. Just like when I tried to work from a campsite and couldn’t find a wifi signal, or spending two weeks working from my parents’ house while on a visit, the multitasking stressed me out.
I’m writing this post from a cozy position, relaxing in my bed. It’s only 8 PM. I am tuckered out, but I wanted to get these thoughts out before I forget them. I am certainly learning a lot about myself during remote life, and my preference for slowing down and doing one thing a time is making itself known loud and clear. When the world opens again, I need to remember this.