#WFH Diaries: Alison Grasso of Cutters Studios

As confinement continues in most parts of the world, we're checking in with creative people to see how they're faring. Here's an update from Alison Grasso, an editor at Cutters Studios in New York.

Give us a one-line bio of yourself.

Multi-disciplined film/video/audio editor, ice cream connoisseur, and craft beer enthusiast who loves to travel (when it's allowed).

Where are you living right now, and who's with you?

I live in a one-bedroom apartment in north Park Slope, Brooklyn, with my boyfriend and my dog Igby. There's also a family of mourning doves living on the fire escape who we embrace as our own.

What's your work situation like at the moment?

Most of my projects wrapped up right before all this started going down, so I've been very fortunate in having ample time to transition to #WFH with a light workload. But that said, I'm able to do pretty much anything I'd do at our office at home. I've used the downtime to work on some director's cuts of recently finished projects, and been able to use Zoom to conduct live remote sessions so it's almost like they're in the room with me. 

On a micro level, my boyfriend and I both have our own laptops but one desktop computer (the big screen!) with a tablet, which we both prefer to use, so it's been a lot of emotional politics trying to share the computer and take turns prioritizing our work as I pick up other projects. We both spend the day working in the living room, bouncing between the desk, the dining table and the couch as needed.

Describe your socializing strategy.

I don't really have a strategy! We have a weekly check-in with all the staff at Cutters NY on Monday afternoons, which is a nice way to keep up with each other and stay connected. On Saturday nights, we have a running group video chat with my friends and usually play Quiplash or something. I'm using social media passively less than ever, but am finding it a really great way to directly communicate and actively check in with friends. Other than that, I guess I talk to the dog a lot.

How are you dealing with childcare?

Some people with actual children justifiably take offense when childless people say their pet is their child, but that's the closest I've got. Fortunately I do not need to homeschool Igby or even keep him that entertained; he seems to be enjoying sleeping as much as he would if we were at work all day. He's getting a bonus midday walk now and being photographed a little more than normal.

What are you reading, besides the news?

Mostly just Twitter, which is like the news, but at least it's funny.

What are you watching?

Re-watching The Office, '90s Simpsons, and when forced, old favorites from my boyfriend's DVD binder (The Mask of Zorro, The Rock). We binged Servant, and now I'm on Season 4 of Peaky Blinders. My friends and I recently started up a movie club where we're all going to take turns picking a movie, watch it separately, then discuss it during our weekly group video chat. The first pick is 2005's Crash. As a joke? No one is sure.

What are you listening to?

The same as always, my favorite podcast My Favorite Murder. I love the hosts, Karen and Georgia, who always manage to imbue horrifying topics with some levity. Being able to continue holding their audio hands through this has really been comforting. I've also found some solace in musical cast recordings and soundtracks on Spotify, specifically 36 Questions, Dear Evan Hansen, and Jagged Little Pill.

How are you staying fit?

I started off trying to do yoga along with some YouTube videos, but quickly realized, I think I hate yoga. Instead, I've been running a minimum mile and a half outside whenever the weather is nice—which reminded me, I maybe also hate running. My Apple watch often reminds me of what a disappointment I am.

Have you taken up a hobby?

I was getting really into film photography in the months leading up to Covid, and was developing about a roll a week at the film developing place near my office, which is obviously closed for the duration. I've considered ordering the supplies to develop my own film at home but am scared that I will ruin the film or somehow accidentally asphyxiate myself with the chemicals! Everyone tells me it's really easy … But the real reason I'm procrastinating is I bought a Nintendo Switch right before the world came to a grinding halt, so my hobbies now include Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Animal Crossing New Horizons, and MarioKart. Sorry to name drop. I also pulled out an oil paint set that's been sitting in my closet for years and set up a little canvas on an easel, but that's as far as I got. Does that count?

Any tips for getting necessities?

Going at off-peak hours is key, as well as remembering ample reusable bags to carry everything home! I've also been making a point to make a list on paper of what I need, so I don't have to take out my phone in the chaos that is the local grocery store. Another hot tip: Many of NYC's myriad wonderful local breweries are still operating and selling cans and crowlers to go! If there's one you can get to without using public transportation, it's a great little treat to spice up quarantine and also is a safe way to support local businesses.

An awkward moment since all this started.

Can we still let dogs sniff each other when we're out on walks if we, the humans, remain more than six feet apart? What is the accepted etiquette here?!

Best work email you got since all this started.

A project I was beginning to pre-produce before coronavirus got serious seems to be moving along as planned, which is always good!

An aha! moment since all this started.

I used to think that if I could stay home all day, my apartment would always be clean and immaculate with all chores kept up on. But actually, two people eating three meals a day at home means there are endless dishes in the sink (and we don't have a dishwasher). And just because we are working at home doesn't mean I suddenly want to wash dishes all the time.

What's your theory on how this is going to play out?

Eventually the virus will wane and life will slowly return to a shade of normal, but I see people leaving cities in droves and re-suburbifying America. Since we've all proven that lots of jobs can be done remotely, it'll matter less where people live. My primary concern is for small businesses and the city's bars and restaurants.  I really hope they can bounce back.

Also, here's a real portrait of our WFH experience:

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd is editor in chief of the Clio Awards and the founding editor of Muse by Clio.

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