Oh, Sit Down

As if things weren’t strange enough these days, there’s a new rhythm to my week that I’m still struggling to get used to, on a number of levels. Thanks to the economic calamity caused by COVID, THR has cut my rate by 20%, which had the effect of essentially furloughing me one day every week, to the distress of everyone involved. (Me especially, as you might imagine.) The upshot of it all is, every Wednesday, I sit down from THR. It’s been harder than I’d expected, and I’m not entirely sure why.

I mean, there are the obvious reasons: I’m working less, and earning less money as a result — although, in this case, it’s actually the reverse: I was told I’d be earning less money, so the conversation pivoted to, “Well, clearly I have to work less,” a deduction thankfully shared by my wonderful editor Aaron — which is going to be a stressful situation at the best of times. It’s one not helped by the fact that, earlier in the month, Wired laid me off entirely, again because of COVID-related cutbacks; through no fault of my own, I’ve ended up with roughly 60% less income on a monthly basis, which has been an entirely unwelcome cause of extra stress and worry.

But the Wednesday thing is somehow odd beyond that. I find it curiously difficult to not work, if that makes sense. The rhythm of my weekdays is thrown off — I don’t have breakfast with everyone then head upstairs at 9am to get started, because there’s nothing to start; the muscle memory kicks in and I have to consciously go, not today, body, internally. I’m also oddly, distractingly aware of the fact that, if news breaks on a Wednesday, I’ll miss it, and that’s proven to be hard to come to terms with, mentally… as has the fact that, by Thursday, my inbox is a mountain of unread messages to catch up on.

Despite all this, I know that this isn’t a bad thing — well, aside from the financial aspect, of course. The break means I feel more energized on Thursday and Friday, and it lets off stress steam that would otherwise smother me. I get to spend more time with Chloe, which feels like a sneaky gift in the middle of everything else.

I’m trying to look at this as a potential benefit in disguise, a blessing in the form of a shit sandwich. Maybe it is! But it’d be easier if I wasn’t worrying about money, my email, or the possibility that the biggest story in the world will break in the middle of the week for unknown reasons. I’ll get there eventually — just in time for THR to restore my salary and everything to return to normal, most likely.

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