Diving in on Day Two

If the first day of working from home was a strange and new and exciting experience, the second day felt more routine.

I got out of bed at 7:30, though I’d been awake for several hours before that. It was another night of rough sleep; it was difficult to get comfortable temperature-wise (take a blanket off, get too cold; throw a blanket on, feel too warm).

I put the coffee on to brew, took the last donut from a pack I’d bought for St. Patrick’s Day, sat down, and wrote out my bullet journal to-do list:

  • Upload liquid.txt (VPN)
  • Prep Comics A-D for layout (VPN)
  • Retailer Incentives
  • Set up UK spreadsheet
  • Collectibles text (VPN)

Like yesterday, I wanted a mix of things to do, some that would require connecting to the office in the remote desktop, some that I could do without needing access to the office computer. Everyone needs variety; the same grind, day after day, grows old, and a Twitter thread I read this morning had some ideas for avoiding burnout in this strange, new world.

But first, and this I did not write down, I really needed to clean off my desk The desk belonged to my grandfather and, though he died twenty years ago, there’s still this amazing smell when opening the file drawers. Unfortunately, the desktop was piled high with… stuff. Piles of CDs. Piles of paper. Pens. Paperclips. Binder clips. Story cubes. A broken Master Chief figure. A Snoopy-as-Sherlock-Holmes keychain. I needed working space, so I grabbed an empty box, starting going through what I had on the desktop, and decided what to do with everything that would be to my left. (The computer itself sits to my right.) Did I need it? Did I have a place for it? Or could I toss it? Things I could toss went in the box; that I would take to the dumpster later.

A fortuitous find — an outline for a short story that I wrote last summer. I knew I had this handwritten outline somewhere. I think it got lost in the shuffle when I was hospitalized last year. Hopefully, I’ll be able to do something with it soon.

By nine o’clock I had a working space, my to-do list on a clipboard, and a mug of coffee. I was even dressed in a Charlie Brown t-shirt, blue cargo shorts, sneakers, and a Washington Nationals baseball cap. (This is the Nationals cap I had with me in the hospital when the playoffs began, so it’s the only one I wore during the post-season, and it’s the one I wore to the World Series parade.)

The writer, at his desk, in his environment

I checked my email — which I can do without connecting to the remote desktop — and discovered a new task. I added that item — Import Toys text (VPN) — to the bottom of my list.

I went to log in…

Connection error.

I tried again…

Connection error.

I repeated this for about half an hour, drinking my coffee, getting frustrated. So I moved on to something else — the Retailer Incentives.

The Retailer Incentives are a document we produce every month of, as the name suggests, incentives for comic retailers. It’s a bit of a chore to do — basically, I take this information directly from the monthly order form, discarding all of the information in the order form I don’t need, then formatting what’s left — which is why it’s never very high on my priorities list.

Since St. Patrick’s Day was two days ago, I put some Dropkick Murphys on, and I rocked through it in about an hour and half. I made the three files I needed — a Word file, a plain text version of the Word file, and a CSV file — emailed the Word file to a designer, and X-ed off “Retailer Incentives” on my bullet journal list.

It was now about 10:30. I took the box of junk to the dumpster; I needed to get up and walk around. I tried the VPN again. This time I was able to log in.

I checked Microsoft Teams to see if there was anything department-related I needed to be aware of. There wasn’t. I closed Teams.

I put some files on the web server and X-ed off “Upload liquid.txt.”

Yesterday afternoon I had been emailed a version of the Comics A-D text file that had been edited and marked-up by the Purchasing team. I opened up that file, opened up the database, then went through and made sure the changes the buyers had indicated had been made in the database. I also found several errors that I had made that they had not marked, and I corrected those. All told, this took a good hour, and once I finished that I had to do another pass through the database and set art flags. Finished, I emailed the edited Word document to the designers, and “Prep A-D for Layout” wax X-ed off on my list.

Now quarter to twelve, I felt like stretching my legs again. I went outside. It was foggy and rather grim. I went to the mailboxes and, on the way, met an older neighbor who lives across the way. I stopped where I was, a good twelve feet distant from her, and, gesturing with my hands to indicate space between us, said, “Social distancing.”

She gave me a quizzical look. “What?”

“Social distancing,” I said, still making weird hand gestures. “You know, the virus. I don’t want to infect you if I have it.” I didn’t add, “I don’t want you to infect me if you have it.”

Realization dawned on her face. “Oh. Oh, yes. That’s good. Yes. They don’t want me to come into work for the next two weeks because of it.”

“That’s a good idea,” I said, nodding.

She passed well clear of me, and when she entered the laundry facility I continued down the steps to the mailboxes. There was no real mail to speak of, just the Dallastown biannual newsletter. I didn’t even look at it, as it certainly lists activities for the next two months that aren’t likely to happen now. Would the Dallastown Memorial Day parade even happen? I wondered.

I looked to the other hill, but it was lost in the fog.

Yoe, lost in the fog
Yoe, lost in the fog

I fixed some cereal for lunch, took leftover chili out of the freezer to thaw for dinner, and put on a pot of water to boil for tea. Then I went back to the “office” and started in on my next task, writing the text for the collectibles section.

I won’t describe the process as it’s tedious, but it went quickly. It was only 38 items, and probably a half dozen of them were lanyards. Just as I wrapped up my work on the section and crossed it off my list, ready to send it to the buyer, I received an enamel from the buyer that she had another ten items or so to add, and would that be a problem? No, of course it wasn’t, I replied. Just add them, and email me when they’re in the database, and I’ll go in and fix them.

As of five o’clock, these ten items still weren’t in the database. The bulk of the work on my end is done, though, and I’ll probably only need another fifteen minutes tomorrow for it to be well and truly done.

Import Toys would not be done as quickly; that section has almost three hundred items. I dove into that without expecting to finish it today. If I reached the halfway point, that would be a good outcome I listened to a number of things as I worked — Carbon Leaf, Sarah White, Kari Johnsrud’s jazz album of Mr. Rogers songs, a BBC Radio 4 documentary on The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band hosted by Neil Innes. And by about 3:30, I had reached the halfway point in the imports section.

As I’d been working on imports, an email came in the games section was ready to be written. Since I’d reached the goal I’d set, and since for mental health I felt I should work on something else, I moved over to the games. It seemed like a lot at first — about a hundred items — but about half of them, all miniatures of various sorts, could be grouped together easily into about five listings. They were at the end, but I did those first, then looped back to the beginning and worked my way back to where I’d started. I took a word count, saved the file, and emailed it to the buyer. All told, working on the games took about an hour and half.

It was now close to 5:30. I’d been a busy little beaver; the day’s word count stood over 15k. I wrote my editor an update on where I was on my various projects. I then opened up Microsoft Teams and left my department a single line status before “leaving” for the day:

Nostromo… signing off…


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