Monday, October 10, 2016

Time to board

My office neighbor had wished me a good trip three times before I almost snapped. "It's not a big deal, I'm just going to see my daughter, then I'm back Friday for the meetings. It's like you working from home for one day!" It wasn't even like working from home because I had a three hour meeting with one of my closest colleagues where we managed to write a workshop proposal and discuss a couple of papers that each of us had read recently. But yes, I did have a four hour commute 'home' to Stockholm Wednesday afternoon, just in time to pick up Zoe from school on the later side of 5pm and I did not work on the plane but instead took a nap because I was exhausted from a week-long cold on top of regular work. After a day in school for Zoe, me working 'from home', I picked her up at a regular hour and we headed to the airport. We ate a bit of dinner in the lounge while watching Dumbo together, Zoe crying her eyes out at always, during the scene where the mother is locked up but still manages to sing a lullaby for her cub, rocking the little elephant with her trunk. I comforted Zoe, well-knowing that this scene perfectly illustrates our life and that this is why we watch it and this is why we cry. We arrived at my parents' house past 9pm where my mother was waiting with tea and cookies, but Zoe fell asleep on the couch.

Zoe eating chocolate strawberries in Copenhagen
It is not the actual flying, I explained to my friend, it is the shifting of context that I have to do constantly. I wake up and for a couple of seconds I have to try to figure out where I am. I have to remind myself where I have my things. I have double of everything (well triple if counting my parents' place) but there are just some tings you can't have double of. And shifting context in terms of language and places, makes it hard shifting context when it comes to work. My type of work is already very diverse, I spend one hour preparing teaching, then another writing on a paper and a third in a meeting with colleagues in relation to a new research collaboration, not to mention the hour working on travel claims and planning. This is standard work structure for my kind of position, nothing new there, nothing special about that. But combined with me shifting between three different apartments, two lounges, airplanes and my office actually being the place I spend the most time in total, it is difficult to focus. To retain some sort of structure I go to the same coffee shop in Stockholm every morning after dropping Zoe off, sitting at the very same table, drinking the same type of coffee. It helps a bit. But then I get a notification from my SAS app telling me that I can now check in and I realize that in 24 hours it is time to board again.

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