#WFH Diaries: Laura Wimer Jewell of Mekanism
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc globally, we're checking in with people in the creative industry to see how they're doing. Here's an update from Laura Wimer Jewell, executive creative director at Mekanism San Francisco.
Give us a one-line bio of yourself.
I'm Laura Wimer Jewell, art director/designer/marker/crayons type, ECD at Mekanism San Francisco.
Where are you living right now, and who's with you?
I am in the Richmond neighborhood of San Francisco, right outside the Presidio, where we see many more people than cars on their way to their daily outside (socially distanced) jaunts. I live with my husband, a writer, who is my partner in creativity (and was even before WFH days).
What's your work situation like at the moment?
At the moment, my work situation varies: back of house, front of house. I wear slippers a lot; my primary desk is a coffee table; my desk chair is the floor. Sometimes there's a yoga mat involved. I've started creating weird challenges for myself surrounding my wardrobe. "How many blue things can I wear?" / "Two days of jungle-themed outfits," etc. We've turned our work/home into the neighborhood: the back of the apartment we call the "café," the dining table is the "restaurant," the second bedroom we call "the YMCA," to make our world feel a little bit bigger.
Describe your socializing strategy.
Constantly checking in on my loved ones from work, friends and family. Here to listen and here to lift moods. I have been sending out silly things like songs my husband sings, art we found interesting, and reaching out as much as I can before or after someone has a meltdown. We have been holding work meetings that aren't about work, but peace of mind. I love inviting people to join a virtual dance class with me. I also started a community Google Slides doc called "Home for Now," for the women in my life to share tips with each other (things like book recommendations, ways to help small business, what to do if you're going mad). It's a deck that grows every day.
How are you dealing with childcare, if applicable?
I don't have any children, but I do have 12 nieces and nephews. Occasionally seven or eight of them gather around a computer (at their homes) and we do an art class for an hour. We are trying to do this every other work day on my "lunch break." It challenges the kids to do something a little different, it's great for parents to have one less hour of planning, and it gives me an excuse to hang out with my little loved ones. I love it so much.
What are you reading?
Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino.
The Moon Juice Cookbook by Amanda Chantal Bacon (really changed my kitchen game).
Naked by David Sedaris. I'll pick up anything by Sedaris for an inappropriate but very appropriate laugh.
Lifescripts (3rd Edition) by Stephen M. Poll and Mark Levine (thanks to my lovely father-in-law).
And just ordered Fleabag the original play.
What are you watching?
Our Planet, a David Attenborough marvel, stunning wildlife footage, and important call to action.
We re-watched all of Fleabag in about a day and a half.
I am going to include FaceTiming with kids while we dance and work out together, too.
What are you listening to?
Guitargirl on YouTube. She's a young jazz guitarist who can lift any mood at any time.
Roberta Flack, Bobby Caldwell, George Benson when I am cooking.
Tiny Desk concerts by NPR. Just sort of binge these in the background.
How are you staying fit?
Before WFH life, I would jump on the trampoline every morning for six minutes. Whatever you can do to get the lymphatic system moving on a busy day really sets the energy up. Now that the outside world is off limits, Ryan Heffington's dance classes and Dance Church livestreaming have been a godsend. I went to Dance Church in Seattle when I lived there and absolutely fell in love. I also am streaming yoga classes and am trying to stretch multiple times a day if I can while I have temporarily retired denim. I like taking headstand breaks. Sunset walks have also helped our brains.
Have you taken up a hobby?
Currently I am attached to my ukulele (aka "the anywhere guitar") and have been learning a lot of Elvis and appreciating slow music.
Making food based on boosting moods so I can keep deep work and creativity going—I have a bit of an alchemy/adaptogen obsession.
Dehydrating foods: crackers, doughs, dried fruits. I've been making nut milks and using the pulp for baked goods.
Hydrating my face and hair as much as I can to counter all of the dehydrating.
I feel so lucky to be able to safely work from home and am trying hard not to take that for granted.
Any tips for getting necessities?
We have been trying to stay socially distanced as much as possible. When we moved back to S.F. my husband and I each bought huge packs of toilet paper without the other one knowing, so we were overly stocked before this all began.
Sakara, Daily Harvest and MoonJuice are a bit beyond necessities, but I love contributing to female-run businesses at this time more than ever.
Also, TwoXSea is a great company started in Sausalito. They source wild and sustainably farmed fish in Northern California and provide to restaurants but also do home deliveries.
An awkward moment since all this started.
I probably say awkward things at work every day, now it's just shifted to virtual awkwardness.
Best work email you got since all this started.
All of the emails of people giving thanks to each other and lending helpful hearts. It's not always about the work in times like this, it's about the way we can all understand and support each other.
An aha! moment since all this started.
Routine isn't required for making great work. Supportive teams of creatives can still collaborate successfully and get things done when at a distance.
What's your theory on how this is going to play out?
I have no idea how this will play out, but here are some hopes:
We will all wash our hands much more than we ever did before.
We will all support small businesses more.
There will be more empathy for illnesses and people with weak immune systems.
We study what happens to the Earth in this strange moment when we're polluting it less. I imagine the Earth is much happier when humans slow down a little.
Most of all, I hope we as a global community find ways to comfort each other, to listen more, to be more prepared for disasters, to more adequately support our medical workers and others who are truly essential linchpins of society.