My previous forever, and now it’s yours too

Wake up. Don’t know what time it is, stopped caring about that a long time ago. Right leg, check. Left leg, where are you? Escaped from under the weighted blanket. He must have been hot. Shirt, gone. Locate in pile of pillows. Throw into tiny pile on metal-chair-nighstand next to mattress next to little internet. Don’t make bed. The dust mites would like that. There aren’t many at high elevations. Note to self: we hate the dust mites.

Blender with water, carrots, and microwave. Carrot soup. I’m aiming for Trump orange greatness by Halloween. It also tastes really great, and I’m trying to hydrate too. No pants needed. Lick bowl. Brush teeth. Contact lenses. Hair is wild like a Pokemon trainer. Life’s more fun when you feel like a comic book character. It’s time to start work. Let’s pretend that we don’t do that around the clock anyway.

Step onto treadmill desk. Click click click. It’s empty except for a dinosaur christmas box, microphone, and cheap light. And the portrait. A yarn store in Northern New Hampshire. The day before the surgery that removed my titanium. I didn’t know I needed it until months later. I had to have it. She looks away. She has dark eyes and dangley earrings. She is me. Twenty dollars well spent. I don’t think I’ve ever bought any other art.

I wake my computer with the touch of the mousepad. We both like to sleep. Life is a little like a computer game, and it’s more fun that way. Extra points for entering the password at the same time as stepping onto the belt. For the bonus round, we scrape at laptop corners where hand gunk accumulates over time. Falls to treadmill. Falls to floor. This task must be completed before it reaches full speed. The robot vacuum will clean little pile of Vanessa pieces at end of treadmill. Music goes on first. The same repeated list of songs for over 10 years now. Glance at email. Triage. Think about current projects while sending mindless, expected responses. Email is finally over, glance at Slack. People are socializing. Boring, but comment if necessary or appropriate. Open up single text file todo list maintained since 2007. Skim random item off of top. Time to engage in my secret power: undying focus with minimal activation energy.

Lose track of time. Gedit in ubuntu is beautiful. It must be cobalt. I love the pretty colors. Building a container. Writing a CI recipe. Respond to GitHub issues. Working on some Python software, but wishing for rust. Brain takes temporary hiatus to entertain itself with puns.

Programming Without Pants: A Memoir.

That’s what it’s come to, hasn’t it? Glance at clock: it’s 2pm. I lost the time. Meeting is at 3pm. This gives me just an hour to run, do strength exercises, and shower. Get distracted for another 15 minutes, finally step away. Need to run.

Put on pants. Next put on face mask, gloves, and minimal shoes. Same make of shoe for years now. They are impossible to find, and soon won’t exist anymore. Only one more extra pair in the closet before I’m forced to find a new kind. Stand closely by door. Listen. The introvert exit optimizes for ninja like secrecy. If I step into the hallway, it must be empty. Can’t risk walking through someone else’s person cloud.

Run down two flights of stairs to parking gararge. It’s huge. 6 laps will be couple of miles, 8 a little more. I used to run very far. I lost patience for that and opt for short and fast. Sometimes, a glimpse of outside world appears through the entrance ramp. Sunshine wonders when it will next hit my skin: it’s only happened once in the last 6 months. Start slowly, but feel good. Run faster. Hair is wild and spiky. Legs are muscular and long. Running fast feels good. Watch out for cars. Avoid people. Push the last two laps.

Sharp right back into the stairwell. Nobody saw me. Stop and breathe. Listen. Quiet. Grab onto the second internal railing, the one that is less likely to be used. It might be cleaner. Stretch calves on the middle stair. It must be the middle stair. The others don’t feel right. Pull shoulders back and squeeze, run up the remaining flights. Take off only right glove to reach for key. Left hand is now holding right glove, dirty. Swipe key into floor, open door with left hand. Enter code with right hand, enter apartment.

Commence final exercise routine. Shoes must be taken off with clean right hand, moved to mat, dirty left glove removed and thrown with right glove into trash. Wash hands. Keep washing hands. Tear off clothes directly into dirty laundry. We can’t trust them. Wash hands again. Time for strength. Planks, pushups, situps. A strong core can power a runner forward. I was skinny for too many years. Having muscle mass is the way to age right. Turn on shower. Wet and wash hair, face, body, feet. It’s never hot enough. Two minutes tops. Dry. Cream. Clothes. Earrings. I don’t use makeup. Throw a headband into hair and call it a day. But I’ll never stop liking sparkley things.

Wearing pants, check. Put on treadmill shoes. No shoes allowed indoors except for them. Click, click, click. 10 minutes early before meeting starts. Return to programming. Almost lose track of time again, join to see three smiling faces. An outside consult. I learned a lot, I love seeing these people. I crave more challenge. It’s up to me to find it. It’s hard. It’s lonely sometimes. I am grateful for everything I have. I will push for how I want things to be. I am determined. I can act confident. Call me pushy and I’ll send my ancestors after you. Call me needed and I’m at your service. That’s all us programmers want, to feel like we are part of something larger than ourselves. We want to have shared goals. We want to be excited about what we are working on. We crave challenge. We are sometimes agnostic to the question because the pursuit of building lights our fire.

Don’t look out any windows, they are closed. Seeing people socializing outside is infuriating. Don’t they know the risks? I don’t like taking risks with my health. I don’t like socializing either, but I’ll do it when I have to. Will I ever go outside again like that? I want to remake my appointment at the allergy clinic. It’s too risky now. Someday I’ll run through forests and trails as I did when I was young. But not soon. Embrace the winter dinosaur. Fall, Spring, and Summer, this building is my fortress. Winter, I am wild and free. I crave the cool air, the smell of winter, and snow. If only there was a place where it would be winter all the time. I’ll settle for a few months of the year.

Close to end of day. Always run out of things to do. Always finish everything that is expected of me early. Being an adult is much easier than being a young person. It’s all about control of time. We aren’t usually trusted to control our own. Some of us possibly shouldn’t be. But for some of us, time is not so important. Life is best when it largely trickles out of awareness. What time is it? It’s always time to do things that we love. It’s always time to figure out how to change our lives to get closer to that. It’s always time to work hard, and take responsibility for ourselves. Be accountable for ourselves. But not take ourselves too seriously. Make time for extra things that are not expected but derive joy or are important. Editing podcast episodes. Practicing a new language. The freedom is lovely. The freedom is rare. I worked hard to have it. I’m not entitled to it. I must keep earning it. Do more than I ever have to. Do more than is expected.

Someone asks me something in Slack. Amazing. I am grateful. I want to help more. They never ask. That’s okay. We learn to take care of ourselves. We work independently. If we cannot grow in isolation, we will not grow at all.

I’m starting to get hungry. The apartment smells like cooking vegetables. Fish always makes them for me. Dinner is always the same thing. Change happens maybe once every 10 years. This round of life means family Brassicaceae. Cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts. Trick my eyes into thinking I’m eating different things. Vegetables are like engineers. They start out raw and volumous, and get cooked down into a more soft, consumable thing.

Calcium, B vitamins, and daily vitamin too. Carrots, sometimes radish, and avocado complete the meal. I love it every time. Not a creature that needs variety. A creature that needs routine. Take away my routine and take away my function. If you are what you eat, I’m made of brassica’ and ‘cados.

Browse the big internet with feedly. Read more about coronapocalypse. NPR audio snippets are my favorite. But a tired brain doesn’t always want new information. Put it away to browse for a present instead. 120 pages total, no problem. I’ll look at every item. I have to be sure I found the best one. Finishing up dinner. Bowls go into dishwasher. Always glass with blue or red lids. In same order and location. Choose avocados carefully. Must be three medium, two large, or four small. Must be the ones that should be eaten today. Wash with soap and water and dry. Avocado mug goes back into refrigerator. The avocados are last. Cut in the middle. Cut around the outside. Twist apart. Peel one half. Eat with hands. Thwak out seed. Peel other half. Consume. Consider the texture, fattiness, and color. My favorite things.

Move operation from big internet to little internet, and relax on gigantic mattress that serves as couch and bed. Possibly share links on Slack in typically failing effort to socialize. Look at social media for the first extended time. Wonder about what’s going on in the world. Wonder about other people. Don’t wonder for too long. It’s time to watch a Netflix series. Fall asleep in arms of my favorite fish. Nobody ever understood me, my routine. I never liked spending time with anyone. I still don’t. Except for him. He found me, and never left me. I didn’t think this was possible.

Pusheen and Star Wars blankets. Wake up 2 or 3 times in the middle of the night. Try to be quiet. Doors are closed when wandering into kitchen to make cocoa. It must be Droste. It must fill up my white, round mug. Tiny piles of cocoa on the counter from cocoas past. A single, long silver spoon to mix. Pour and hope that I don’t see any chunks. Add bitter amino acids for protein, substantial protein. Crave the taste. Don’t forget to take out retainer. Teeth grinder. Neck fusion. It helps.

Try not to start coding. A collaborator from Germany has commented on my pull request! Up for another hour responding, and thinking. Tired eyes bring me back to the dark room. The humidifier puffs peacefully. The bed is warm and inviting. Stare at the little internet. Facebook never is working at this hour. Twitter is somehow still pulsing with life. Reddit. Place for bread, cats, towns, and programming. Quora is always last, and just enough eyelid energy for a few questions. Dark mode is lovely. And then I’m asleep. Today has become tomorrow, and tomorrow is today. I hope it’s exactly the same.

This post is done in the style of Rands “wfh”, which inspired me to write it in the first place.

Suggested Citation:
Sochat, Vanessa. "Working From Home." @vsoch (blog), 08 Aug 2020, (accessed 16 Apr 24).