Diary of a quarterlifer: working from my childhood bedroom
By Jessie Thomson
Going home to work during lockdown seems like a good idea, until you're fighting your brother for bandwidth.
This isn’t so bad. When the prospect loomed, I initially thought working from my childhood bedroom would be impossible; with its “sugared lilac” walls, faux-fur cushions and garishly framed photo booth pictures from Topshop Oxford Street circa 2010. It’s hardly an environment for a chic working professional gal, a la Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada. But dare I say, it’s actually been quite pleasant so far. I can hear the birds singing outside my bedroom window, there’s tea with biscuits (the fancy ones) whenever I want them, and comfy sofas in the living room for when I fancy a break. I think it’s all going to be ok.
Ok, maybe I spoke too soon. The wifi is about as slow as the queue for the women’s loos in a dodgy nightclub. Buffering…buffering…. It’s making my conference calls look more like a hostage situation than professional pow wow. Must be my younger brother hogging the bandwidth. I mean, how much porn can one person really consume? 🤮
Five hours of video meetings later and the first day is almost done. My throat is basically the Sahara. I have lost all feeling in my bum. At least there’s dinner to look forward to. A proper dinner. A ‘mum’ dinner, which is a lot tastier than my Monday night go-to in London (a sad bowl of porridge topped with fruit I’ve nicked from the office).
Ouch. Why does my lower back hurt so much? I always thought people who made a song and dance about ergonomic desks were just attention-seeking. But turns out working all day in a chair designed for a kitchen table just isn’t that great for you.
I have improvised. I have decided to stack up my old English Literature books and place my laptop on top to create my own ergonomic desk space. It’s not perfect, but at least it’s making me sit straighter. Thanks Chaucer.
Who knew such a huge family argument could arise from a discussion about halloumi? With all of the family home now, I thought it would be nice if we all cooked one meal each a week. We each get to choose a dinner we like and then we can avoid a situation where one person does all the cooking. I thought it was a great idea. That is, until all the meals I said I wanted to cook were vetoed. Halloumi, falafel, or something with avocados. Apparently my “London ways” (as my dad calls them) aren’t welcome here and a meal without meat is not a meal at all. As a result, my diet for the next few weeks looks like it is mainly going to consist of bangers and mash, burgers and mince. Let’s hope this lockdown doesn’t get lifted by summer so I don’t have to see anyone, because I’m not sure any of the cute “milkmaid” dresses I bought on Depop last month are going to fit.
Presenting on a conference call to senior colleagues, I hear the door to my bedroom open behind me and my mum whispering my name. My camera is on and I’m in full presenting flow, so I try to ignore her, hoping she’ll take the hint. She doesn’t. Instead, she ducks down to try to avoid my camera, crawls into my room, and places a biscuit and a cup of tea on the side table next to me. A lovely gesture...if only she hadn’t just got out the shower, wearing a dressing gown with a towel on her head. Oh, and if all my colleagues hadn’t seen the whole thing through my webcam, despite her attempt at subtlety.
They’re now saying this lockdown could last six months. I don’t mean to moan, but I really don’t think I can hack this. I need some interaction with people who I’m not directly related to. Basically, I need to shag someone. Case in point: I caught myself checking out the Amazon delivery driver who knocked on our door this morning. Am I hitting rock bottom? What have I become?
Why is it that when you have all the time in the world to do creative projects you’ve wanted to do for years, you simply cannot be bothered to do them? I’m just not in the mood. I optimistically brought my sketching pad home from London the other week, thinking I’d be spending all my time floating around the house doing arty things like a budget Florence Welch. But instead all I’ve done is re-watched Girls and baked sub-par banana bread. Shakespeare may have written King Lear in a plague lockdown, but this gal right here is doing some serious Netflix binging.
I’m laughing more than I’ve laughed in weeks. My old uni friends who live all across the country have decided to create a virtual pub quiz tonight. We’re on the round “who said this?”, written by my friend Laura who’s sharing a PowerPoint she’s made of quotes from all our old Facebook statuses. It’s completely embarrassing and utterly hilarious. One of the quotes is, “just went a bit mad in Jack Wills”, another is, “just flirted with the train ticket inspector…casual”. It’s reassuring to know we were all as lame as each other. It also makes me realise I should probably clean up my internet footprint. I’m sure there’s an old Bebo page still out there knocking around somewhere, full of overly-edited mirror selfies from the time I had a ludicrously backcombed side-parting. It’s also nice to know that, no matter how far apart we all are and no matter what might be happening outside, I’ve still got friends who can make me laugh so much I cry into my bottle of Corona beer. Perhaps friends and Corona are, ironically, the things that’ll get me through this.
Image by Beth Yarnelle Edwards.