Workin’ WFH. With Yiyun Li.

WFH. (Work From Home). No shoes. No socks.  Chained to the desk. Lower back groans.

HBR: “The risk is substantial. The lines between work and non-work are blurring… (those) who feel “on” all the time are at a higher risk of burnout when working from home than if they were going to the office as usual.”

I pause for a few page turns of Yiyun Li, Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life:being caught by the mesh of one’s mind.”

Friday Night. 11:30 pm. Everyone in bed – but me. I’ve shifted positions, from desk to couch.  I’m clearing out a swollen email box. 214. 210. 198. 175. 143. 138. 117.  18 hours. Calls. Conference Calls. Conference Calls. Conference Calls.  110. 108. 106. 104. 101. 99.

Get up to stretch. Walk to the kitchen. Grab a ramekin. Scoop out 3 heaping tablespoons of Talenti, tamp it down, lean in on the spoon again, add another scoop.  Today, Talenti for late breakfast, for dinner, and again, now, at midnight. Mint Chocolate chip. Close eyes. Gelato slides down throat, soothing. The only thing that is.

88. 85. 84. 83. Losing focus. Re-reading same email 2x.  Replies are littered with spelling mistakes. Autocorrect, correcting incorrectly. F-** it. I send it anyway. Does it really matter. Lose. Loose. Lose.

81. 79. 64.

Back to Yiyun Li. “Even the most inconsistent person is consistently himself.”

63. 62. 59. 57. 56. 54. 53. Li: “Wanting nothing is as extreme as wanting everything.”

50. 47. 43. 41. Li: “Did we ever ask ourselves: Why are we so lonely, so proud, and so adamant about perfecting our pretense?”

40. 39. 38. 37. 34. 32. Li: “we are, unlike other species, capable of not only enlarging but also diminishing our precarious selves”

30. 29. 27. I’m closing in on clearing my cue, but like Sisyphus, the closer I get to zero, the steeper the hill seems to get.

26. 25. 24. 23. Neck aches. I mean aches.  I turn, twist to adjust my position. 23 left. Come on. Bring it home.

I stare at the remaining cue. And stare. And stare.

And quit.

I gently set my iPhone on night stand. Twist in the earbuds, skim to find Chill Playlist, and hit Play.  But Yiyun Li can’t help herself, and lip syncs over it.

…the worst kind of fidgeting is that of one’s mind…I wonder…—not that one has known…but that one knows…This ceaseless effort—


Notes: Photo – Shibari & Photo Geoffroy Tako Baud. Model Lafille Delair (via Newthom)


  1. first: great photo! Underlines perfectly the chosen theme.
    then: I find that HH reacts differently to WFH (we just call it Home Work). His sleep is more relaxed, less snoring (thanks heavens!), less fussing about, less trembling of limbs…. He’s still quickly jumping from zero to 100 if not content, but jokes a lot more with his phone partners…. He’s missing going out to work, he likes the ‘rumours in the corridors’ (so much more beautifully said in French) because ‘that’s where you learn the important stuff’. he however loves eating three meals lovingly (more or less!) prepared by yours truly, only having to walk to the kitchen for another espresso instead of changing floors as in the office…. No ice cream available either, but wife brings home other desserts for the working people.
    Great story telling – but may I say I fear for your waist line, you who so ardently went for runs, tormented yourself with gym style work-outs…. us, being lazy bums who much rather have a glass of wine instead of a glass of water because we work out so heavily, we stay the same. We also still may go for a walk, uncontrolled, and as we are together 24/7, we may even hold hands outside of the flat.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Love this: “he however loves eating three meals lovingly (more or less!) prepared by yours truly, only having to walk to the kitchen for another espresso instead of changing floors as in the office…. No ice cream available either, but wife brings home other desserts for the working people.”

      Liked by 1 person

  2. When did you stop having your Talenti straight from the container??? Are you ok? Have you been tamed?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. this is so fitting. as a teacher, i’m online with zooms, loom, facebook, email, our school website, phone calls, texts, questions that need answering, support needed by families, homeroom family app with comments, and on and on. on top of that family and friends and bookclubs, and old friend check in and happy hour zooms. last night, my colleague called to say the music teacher was going live with her lullaby zoom and some of our kids would join, and i had to say that i was done for the weekend and i’ll rejoin on monday. at my limit, and i love my kinder and love the families and love teaching, but i also need my disconnect time to just walk, sit, read, and have my flamin’ hot cheetoes.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. leave some of that extra high A personality at the old office, slow down and let your body enjoy the new work from home model. Meditating more, getting up more, don’t working till the wee hours to clear the box. It will be there the next day. Try it for a week, see if you can. Let me know. Hugs. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A friend of mine works in the IT department of a university. Since this craziness started, she is working from home and says she has never worked so hard in her life. Thankfully she turns it all off on the weekends…
    I am a lazy bum. My job has been closed and looking for something else at this time is, quite frankly, not overly easy I have decided to take Canada’s financial help and am trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up…

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Oh dear David. For some reason, as I read your provocative and exquisitely (as always) written piece I am reminded of that scene in the Crying Game where Dil visits Fergus in prison and asks him he took the fall for her. He says, “As a man once said, it’s in my nature” And then he tells her the story of the frog and the scorpion.

    Not saying you’re the scorpion, but rather, our society is like that scorpion. Its nature is to convince us to work ‘ceaselessly’. To be consistently ourselves, even in the inconsistency of our capacity to keep ‘perfecting our pretense’ to a point where we do not realize the precariousness of our existence because we are so convinced of our capacity to enlarge ourselves…

    Just thinkin’ and ruminatin’ out loud… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Who knew that working from home could be so hard?!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    For those who are working from home … “the worst kind of fidgeting is that of one’s mind … I wonder … not that one has known … but that one knows … This ceaseless effort” … It also happens to those ‘retired’ at home!!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m familiar with Who’s on First, but ramekin completely baffled me. Have you stocked up on the Talenti for the weeks to come?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. You know … when you slow down and recognize it… it can make a huge difference.sont get suck into old reactions and expectations. This is a time of exploration about your self rather than reacting to others. 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Christie says:

    Sounds like you need a steam shower, a massage and then a sauna…followed by a daily nap then a meal nourishing meal, quiet time with Susan…then work 45 minutes of you typical work hours cause you need a 15 min break every hour you work. I realize you work with folks in different time zone so adjust your peak working hours…Peak working hours can’t be from 5am est to 11:30 pm est – you need sleep, food, calm and B stress tablets, maybe some Gatorade Zero in Cherry glacier,too…btw it took me 1/2 hour to eat my Talenti before breakfast (black raspberry choc. chip out of the container) had planned on eating 1/3 hmmm well it is gone now… no clue when I’ll be able to get my stash replenished..

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’ve been working from home for many years so take good care of myself and my back. A standing desk is essential!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I think it’s one iota easier to forgive one’s self for walking a way from Sisyphus and the boulder, when one pauses to realize that life is staring us in the face, and asking ‘seriously?’ – have the gelato, snuggle into soft sheets. The boulder remains.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Christie says:

    Certainly hope you sleep well, last night…hope you can arrange your schedule so the hours are shorter!! You don’t want the stress to cause a doctor visit…and since you are at home hope you are wearing Non-Wall Street Socks 🙂 you might even sneak those feet onto the desk or an ottoman for a rest. Take some B complex tablets!!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Christie says:

    Glad that I made you laugh! We wear wool socks a few times a week! So do your feet en-robed in wool easily slip into nice slippers or into some Sperry’s…of course Sperry’s see more bare feet than socked feet…or maybe you wear Gucci driving slippers. Well I sure hope that working from home hours are slowing down!!! Maybe in the future you’ll only have to work in the city twice a week. Did you hear that some working at home folks are required to have their computer signed in to a video chat so the employer can make sure that they aren’t having any flex time? and no unauthorized. emails as they check your keystrokes with a keylogger. Those IT spy are bit too much…

    Liked by 1 person

  16. kpabsad says:

    Great experience ! Really amazing !
    Follow me for upcoming beautiful stories…

    Liked by 1 person


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