The Work from Home Devolution

home workTesting period. Every university teacher loves and hates it. On the bright side, no students and classrooms for a while and my battery will get a much-needed recharge. Moreover, my left eye will stop twitching.

On the downside, for the next month I will be buried in tests and papers. My fingers will be dyed red and my right eye will start twitching.

And somewhere right in the middle of the bright and downsides is that I’ll work from home for a while.

Work from home. The phrase elicits a variety of reactions. If you have never worked from home you imagine a pajama-clad man waking up at the crack of whenever he wants, then drinking coffee in bed with a laptop perched on his groin.

If you have worked from home you have a far more realistic picture of how it goes.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, working from home starts out as the most wonderful thing in the world. I wake up at 9ish, make coffee, put on music, and read the news. Then I head into my home office and write for two hours, then grade papers, edit and proofread.

Despite the fact that I am working, I do revel in the minor freedoms the situation allows. I wear what I want, eat when I want, and take breaks when I want. I am, in fact, living the dream…one devolutionary step at a time.

The first thing to go is clothing. In the beginning, I dress like my normal self, sweater and jeans or comfy pants. But once I realize that nobody is sitting in my office with me, pants disappear in lieu of lounge pants. These quickly become sweatpants and then pajama pants.

I don’t know when it happens exactly, but I do reach a certain level of dementia. It’s at this level that I reconsider the historical necessity of pants. I mean, if monks are smart and they wear robes all day, so why can’t I? My robe gives way to a kimono that resembles a formless sack. By the end of the first week I am usually sitting in front of my computer wearing nothing but a sarong, my writing kufi, and a dazed expression.

Working hand in hand with my growing inability to dress myself is the serious dive in my personal hygiene. It’s amazing how quickly showers stop when you don’t have to impress anyone. It’s more amazing how quickly I go from “not having to impress people” to “not worrying about offending people.”

After a few days, showers are but a distant, watery memory. My deodorant is collecting dust somewhere and my toothbrush has essentially become a modern art masterpiece. By the weekend, the cat stops coming into my office, instead casting judgmental looks at me from the hall.

When you can offend an animal that uses its own tongue as toilet paper, it’s time to reevaluate.

This reevaluation would be possible if I hadn’t at some point lost the ability to communicate in a spoken form of language. While grading papers and editing I do utter things like “Bwah! Grooo! Menolikey!” but that’s about it.

My spoken interactions (read: between me, the cat, and the computer screen) demonstrate the grunt-filled, gesture-rich language so popular on the Serengeti 150,000 years ago.

There are other issues. My diet changes drastically, since in order to eat like a reasonable human being I have to go buy things at a shop. This means going outside, which is a total deal breaker. So my diet mainly consists of beans, crab sticks, and ketchup. And the less said about the degradation of, and massive increase in, special alone time, the better.

In late February I’ll head back to the office and classroom, hopefully before I devolve too far into a lesser life form. Until then, you might want to steer clear of me. But if someone could mail me crab sticks and ketchup, I’d be appreciative.

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