Gone Floatabout

Sailing, Photography, Wilderness

A day in the life… of working from home


Inspired by the Bartleby column in last week’s issue of The Economist“Diary of a home worker: The challenges of concentrating during a lockdown” practically had me in stitches. If you subscribe to The Economist, don’t miss it!

In the spirit that imitation is the highest praise, here’s my (lightly fictionalized) “diary”:

6:10 Wake up and look at the clock. Hold inner debate about going for a run this morning. Roll over.

6:30 Reach for phone to see if running buddy has texted to cancel. She has! Breathe a sigh of relief and text back “No worries – tuckered out from our 9 miles the other day…”

6:31 Receive reply from running buddy saying she’s wiped out from home-schooling her 7th grader with his short attention span and inability to focus on Zoom classes. Text back and thus begin conversation on pros and cons of technology.

7:12 Realize been texting with running buddy for over 40 minutes! And it was all about the internet sucking up time! Oh, the irony. Text goodbye and jump out of bed.

7:15 Open cornflakes box and realize it’s running low. Panic that the store won’t have anymore. Realize with relief that there are 5 more boxes in the pantry from the last Costco run a month ago before Costco started limiting the number of customers and what they could buy. Idly wonder when official rationing will arrive.

7:20 Take coffee and cornflakes out on the porch and stare at the ocean. Happily some things never change. Like The Morning Stare. The ritual of staring at the blue horizon, coffee in hand, is the same at sea or ashore. The best part of the day.

8:00 Start to feel guilty about not sitting down to work. Compromise by looking at emails, most of which are from banks about how they are dealing with covid-19. They’re really just trying to calm us all down so we don’t withdraw all our money. Delete.

8:15 Look over spread sheet of accepted or published articles for which money is owed. Check bank statements to make sure nothing is incorrect. Email editors to remind them of money owed.

8:30 Open blank word document and stare, waiting for inspiration.

8:32 Go to the bathroom.

8:34 Glance over List of Ideas. Decide that all of them will probably be considered callous in view of the pandemic. Has to be about the pandemic.

8:45 Look up news articles about covid-19. Disappear down the rabbit hole.

10:00 Run across article about practicing mindfulness during the pandemic. Get up from computer and sit on the floor to try it out.

10:03 Stomach rumbles. Go fetch a snack. English muffin? Bananas? Go for bananas: they grow in the yard so won’t be affected by rationing or store closures.

10:17 Go back to blank word document.

10:20 Running buddy texts with idea for social coffee break over Zoom. Rush to change out of pajamas and move laundry basket out of view of the computer’s camera.

10:40 Go back to blank word document.

10:41 Look up from desk at Dad’s watercolor of childhood home in British Columbia. Sigh nostalgically for the days when crossing the US-Canada border required only a driver’s license.

10:43 Sigh nostalgically for the days, three weeks ago, when crossing borders was even allowed at all.

10:45 Wonder if will get to see friends from other countries ever again.

10:46 Wonder if will even get to see friends in the continental US ever again.

10:47 Close eyes and remember to be grateful for all the things done and seen in life. Sigh with relief and gratitude for not being sick with the virus.

10:48 Wonder if have in fact contracted covid-19. Go wash hands vigorously. Wipe down keyboard and phone.

10:50 Check email to see if editors have responded about outstanding payments. They haven’t. Start composing long overdue replies to personal emails.

11:46 Tsunami alert siren goes off. Remember that it’s the first day of the month and it’s only the regular test.

11:47 Nuclear missile alert siren goes off. It’s also a test. Or is it the world’s worst April Fool’s joke? Or is it for real?? Are the conspiracy theorists correct??!! Is that what’s next after Bio Weapon Covid-19??? Panic!!

11:49 Breathe deeply. Console self with knowledge that that brief spurt of covid-19 panic buying will also provide food for weeks in the fall-out shelter. What fall-out shelter? There aren’t any. Shrug. Go back to emails.

NOON Reach the emails from Francophone friends which must be replied to in French. Re-read them all. Decide just don’t have the energy.

12:03 Open the fridge and stare, wondering what to make for lunch. Salad on the grounds the lettuce is the most perishable? Grilled cheese sandwiches because vaguely depressed and comfort food sounds really good right now? Decide on salad since didn’t go for that run this morning.

12:40 Finish salad and eat a piece of bread and cheese anyway.

12:47 Eat a square of chocolate. Eat a second.

12:55 Go back to blank word document.

13:00 Go out for a walk before that rain cloud that’s hovering to the south gets any closer.

13:10 Happen upon neighbor also out for walk. Feel awkward and embarrassed about standing 6 feet apart to converse.

13:20 Decide that intended short walk will be much longer. Feels so good to be out of the house.

14:08 Starts to rain.

15:00 Return from 7-mile walk, drenched from the rain. It was worth it. So much healthier than sitting in front of the computer.

15:02 Take a hot shower, put on dry clothes, and make a cup of tea and a piece of toast and jam. Start to read The Economist.

16:15 Realize been reading The Economist for an hour. Quickly wash up tea things.

16:17 Remember haven’t returned call from friend on the East Coast. Realize it’s too late again now with the time change.

16:18 Go back to blank word document.

16:19 An idea comes! It’s both sailing and pandemic related!

19:30 Stomach rumbles. Just want to finish this paragraph….

19:35 Can’t ignore stomach any longer. Go make dinner.

19:50 Stir the curry around again in the pot. That’ll make it cook faster.

19:51 Do the same to the rice.

20:05 Finally sit down to dinner.

20:30 Wash up dishes. Hold inner debate about going to bed immediately after eating. Tell self once again that earlier dinner would really be healthier.

20:40 Sit down to read. What to choose? The Tao Te Ching to try and get mindful? Ayn Rand to get riled up about the end of civil liberties around the world? On the Beach for some end-of-the-world prophecy? More covid-19 in The Economist? James Michener’s big ol’ tome Hawaii that’s been on the reading list since moving to the overseas territory (ahem, state)?

20:41 Pick up a murder mystery.

21:30 Bed time!

10 thoughts on “A day in the life… of working from home

  1. Hi Ellen, enjoyed that, and really enjoy watching the sailing videos. Just curious if you are being allowed to sail?

    We went into lock down here in Park City almost immediately being a ski resort town, we had a lot of tourist here. Fortunately our Sheriff made it clear that we could still go about our daily activities just like you’re able to. So apart from social distancing the one major change has been home schooling. Unfortunately we are at the beck and call of the teachers and it’s all new to them. Telling a 13 year old when they’ve finished their work by noon that maybe she could finish the Odyssey goes down like One Australia during the 95 Americas cup.

    Anyway nice to have stumbled across your videos this morning. All the best.

    • Hi Allan,
      I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog and videos! Also glad to hear lockdown in Park City isn’t too terrible, though I can imagine home schooling over the internet is a challenge!
      To answer your question, people are allowed to sail in Hawaii, although with some restrictions: only members of your household (residing at the same address) are allowed on your boat, and you are not allowed to sail between islands unless absolutely necessary. “Non-essential” inter-island travel is banned at the moment for everyone. It is also becoming fairly well impossible for vessels from overseas to come here, even though they are technically allowed to (at least if they are American – I’m not actually sure about the regulations for foreign sailors) provided they quarantine for 14 days. Considering that it takes most sailors at least 14 days to reach Hawaii from anywhere, that restriction seems a bit silly – they’ve already been quarantined at sea! It’s just the sweeping rule, though, that’s applied to all returning Hawaii residents at the moment. Nonetheless, apparently quite a few sailors have not been allowed ashore (even for water or provisions) even after their quarantine period. Another problem is that there is very, very limited moorage here – the waiting list for a slip is between 7 and 20 years – so the state is having a lot of trouble coping with the increase in sailors arriving here after being turned away from South Pacific ports. Obviously it’s not a good time to be sailing anywhere….
      Thanks for commenting, stay safe!

  2. Good one Ellen. Guess we are all feeling like we are hanging in a suspended world. Weird. Instead of returning to BH I am still in Freeport. Will be here till fist of May. Took my knitting all the way on our trip. Didn’t touch it but going hang busters now. Just finished reading My Dear Hamilton. Think you would really like it. Have a good Easter. 🐷🐸🦎. Caroline

    • Glad you enjoyed it! It is a weird, suspended world… good to hear the knitting’s going well! Hope you had a good Easter!

  3. Eine traurige Zeit. Hier in Italien ist strenge Ausgangssperre. Kein Joggen, keine Radfahrt in die Berge, keine Spaziergang am Meer.
    A sad time. Here in Italy there is a strict curfew. No jogging, no cycling in the mountains, no stroll by the sea.

    • Yes, it is a very sad time all over the world. I am grateful to live in a place with a very small population and very little infection. While our lives even here are much restricted compared to before the virus, I am incredibly grateful that our politicians understand the enormous health benefits of getting outdoor exercise.

      Our governor and mayor have, so far, shown great common sense: outdoor exercise on your own, or at least 6 feet apart from your walking partner, has obvious benefits – fresh air and aerobic exercise maintain healthy respiratory function (covid-19 is a respiratory illness); the natural world, fresh air, and low intensity exercise all lower stress, which boosts immune function by lowering cortisol and adrenaline in the body.

      I take advantage of it every day and I definitely do not take it for granted. I know my little humor piece here doesn’t really make that clear – it was just supposed to be a bit of light entertainment in these dark times – but really I’ve never been so grateful just to be able to go outdoors and see the sun. My heart goes out to the people all over the world who are denied the health benefits and pleasures of being outside. I hope you are managing to stay healthy and sane nonetheless. We are all praying for a swift end to the pandemic.

  4. Ellen – You nailed it! Hope all is well with you guys. Stay safe.


  5. Ellen the Scrivener: I too enjoy Bartleby. So here is a brief run on my day:

    0730: Groaning roll out of bed; shave; twenty minutes of the rowing ergometer; sshower

    0830: Bowl of real Vermont granola, with raisins and a sliced banana. Rea done Economist story

    0900: Up those monstrous fourteen (not 39, thank goodness) t the office and the computer (Google, NYTimes, AOL, LymeLine – the local on-line paper for which I write book reviews), weather report)

    0940: What to do next? Ah! another book review (Ian McEwan’s The Cockroach.

    1100: Consider emails to offspring: g-d on South Island, New Zealand; g-d in Cuba, NM (where on earth is it?), kids holed up in Middlebury, VT, Andover, NH, Ipswich, MA, and San Diego, CA, old business friends in Lausanne, Toronto, Melbourne

    1230: Sandwich (BLT, PB & J. bowl of grapes, cho. chip cookie, H2O) Read another Econ article.

    1430: Ah! an hour snooze, as I stretch to 87 in two weeks.

    1800: Ten minute news summary on PBS (nothing else – all noise)

    1915: At last! Back to Hilary Mantel and her remarkable description of real chaos with Henry, his ladies, and Thomas Cromwell.

    A Princetonian’s day. Much like a Yalie’s.

    • Yes indeedy! Though my diary was just supposed to be a bit of light humor, not literally what I do each day 🙂
      20 min on the erg at 87… I’m impressed!