#WFH Diaries: Caitlin Schiller of Blinkist
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 Caitlin Schiller, Blinkist audio producer and creator of the company's Simplify podcast.
Give us a one-sentence bio of yourself.
I'm Caitlin Schiller. I'm an audio producer, avid cook and eater, and catmom to Clara.
Where are you living right now, and who's with you?
A sun-soaked 4th-floor apartment in Berlin that's got a balcony off the bedroom. I used to find that weird (like, how is it not weird to bring guests out there…?), but have grown to sort of love it since the pandemic hit. I can lie in bed in my pajamas and work from home with the door open and it's like being outside.
There's a little cat here with me who follows me everywhere, and also my partner, Thomas.
What's your work situation like at the moment?
Hectic. I've worked 12-14 hour days for the past few weeks because I'm EP'ing a new daily show, Checking In, about how people are dealing with work and life lived remotely. It's pretty full-on. There are a lot of Google Hangouts every day. I give a lot of feedback on sound beds and "adding a beat."
Describe your socializing strategy.
FaceTime calls and digital cocktail hours with friends and family. I find cocktails really help with family calls (how did we not do this before?!). I've also gone on a number of clunky "social distance" walks, for which I am very grateful, with friends in the neighborhood.
Thankfully my struggles aren't all that sordid, because I'm sure I've spread a fair amount of private information about myself around the neighborhood by shouting to interlocutors from 1.5 meters away.
How are you dealing with childcare, if applicable?
I wake up and feed her, then we play for a while. If she's not asleep—which, thankfully, she often is during the day—when I look over at her, she meows at me and I know it means she wants to play.
I try to find time to shake her catnip bluebird toy around between emails and calls. Alas, what usually happens is I sit on the wand it's attached to while working, and she bats the bird around at my feet. She's still a beeb, so has a lot of energy and likes to attack hands and feet.
To curb bites and scratches (and all that Little Cat Energy), I bought her a hand puppet to wrestle: a kangaroo named Joey. She and Joey have a tempestuous relationship and I've already had to perform minor surgery on the back of Joey's head. Luckily, I've got a steady hand.
What are you reading?
What are you watching?
What are you listening to?
Caroline Polachek. H.E.R.'s newer album. Selected Shorts. On the Media, always.
How are you staying fit?
After recovering from what I'm reasonably certain was corona (though who knows, because I couldn't get tested), I'm back out jogging again and endeavoring to reclaim my lung capacity. So, that. And sometimes I'll do a livestreamed yoga class online.
Have you taken up a hobby?
It predates shelter-in-place mandates by a few weeks, but since we've all gone WFH, I've gotten *super* into fermenting. There's a five-gallon vessel in which I'm brewing kombucha, and I'm also experimenting with water kefir and lacto-fermented veg that's mega ombre right now. Dear reader: There is nothing more exciting than producing your own carbonation (or rather, getting microbes to do it for you). Yay, science!
Any tips for getting necessities?
I wish that I hadn't used Amazon PrimeNow as much as I have in the last few weeks, but there it is. I did it. I admit it. It was useful. The cat needed a hand puppet to fight, I'm sorry, fine.
An awkward moment since all this started.
Having two adult humans who eat a lot of vegetables at home, all day, has really, erm … surprised our old building's plumbing. I really appreciate the industrial work toilets now.
Best work email you got since all this started.
I got an email from a listener asking where the other show I host and produce, Simplify, has gone, and whether there'll be new episodes. Receiving it was a lovely little moment of affirmation.
An aha! moment since all this started.
Working from home does not actually mean more time for me. I've realized I've got to keep on getting up early and fitting in my workout at the crack of dawn if I want to fit it in at all.
What's your theory on how this is going to play out?
I see us doing this in Germany at least until June, perhaps longer. In the end, I'm not quite sure how the world into which we're released, Bambi-like and bewildered, will look. I hope that, as a collective, we remember how important health is, and that we design policies—both professional and private—with a reverence for it.
I hope we remember to rest our bodies, to cook dinner at home, and to be grateful for all of the things and people in our lives we do have, rather than racing toward an abstract "more" that prompts late capitalistic disregard for the human beings behind the work.