Quarantine Diaries—Volume 11

The Quarantine Diaries are an attempt to turn social distancing into a shared experience.

We’ve been asking people to tell us everything from their best working from home habit (and their worst) as well as their go-to selections for books, music and TV.

We’ve been publishing new volumes every few days, and we’ve incorporated an incredibly eclectic Spotify playlist that we’re updating with each submission (see below).

Remember, you don’t have to be invited to share your diaries: we want to hear from all of you. Anyone interested in sharing their own diaries with us, contact either David Brown or Chris Powell.

Jennifer Meehan, Edelman Canada (above)

Have you developed any good habits about working from home? I have to say proudly, yes. As a single mother, balancing work, home, and my daughter’s extra-curricular activities and finding the motivation to work out is damn near impossible. Honestly, it just doesn’t happen. Thankfully with this forced slow down, I have been able to hop on my Peloton three to five times a week. It’s nice to see my bike being used for more than a clothes hanger! I am optimistic this will continue post quarantine. (Please don’t check back.)

Any bad habits? Carb-centric meals with my daughter would be my current bad habit. I have enjoyed getting back to cooking again, and many of the favourites that I am revisiting from my childhood don’t shy away from pasta, bread or rice. Yum. I heard from a reliable source on Instagram, however, that #CarbsKillCovid so there’s that.

Favourite quarantine meal? Oh wow, do I have to choose one? Homemade pizza, Italian Wedding Soup, Banana Bread, crispy rosemary potatoes… dare I go on.

Thing you miss most about the office… I miss the social interaction with adults. While there is no doubt that I have “leaned in” to quarantine life, I do miss my colleagues. I enjoy the work we do, and with the diverse and interesting crew we have, there is always a lot of learning and a lot of laughs. Oh, and great stories to share over a coffee.

What books are you reading? Loving it? Hating it? Reading? What’s that? Does COVID-19 news count?

Any TV, Netflix or streaming recommendations? My sister and I were just saying that there are a few series that we loved that we wished we hadn’t watched, because “we would have so much to look forward to.” Animal Kingdom is one of those. Currently I am watching the final season of Homeland and just finished Pistorius, which as fantastic.

What song best represents your current state of mind? Or what is on your quarantine playlist? Music is on all the time at my house, that’s for sure. My daughter and I love to sing, so we have been rehearsing a set of three songs—you know, just in case we get booked for a gig at the end of this. “Never Enough” from The Greatest Showman is our current ear-worm, or anything featured on TikTok.

Advice you’d give yourself six months from now… It was a challenging period Jen, but it was also a gift. It was a time to be kind to yourself, to slow down and nurture your relationship with your daughter. A time to not sweat the small stuff and have your thoughts be dominated by negativity. You gravitated to the things that brought you comfort, like a clean house, yoga pants, pasta, a glass of cabernet, popcorn and movie and karaoke nights with Sophia, because that’s what you and your daughter needed.

You did not fail because your daughter’s homework assignments were turned in late, you did not fail because you put on 10 pounds and didn’t pick up the guitar again.

They were strange times and you did your best and you know what? You got far more out of it than you lost. Remember that!

Any technology challenges/triumphs? While my daughter would say TikTok. For me, Microsoft Teams is the technological triumph. This platform has enabled our team and the agency as a whole to continue to collaborate and connect. This would be a very different experience had we not adopted this platform a couple of years ago. Video calls have been key to ensuring connection, and it’s just nice to see those lovely faces. For fun, Trickster Cards is great. We have played some family Euchre games and the virtual element of the game prevents a lot of card fights.

Garrick Tiplady, Facebook

Have you developed any good habits about working from home? Not a habit, but I am now an expert hair colourist. Right now my only client is my wife, but I’ll be expanding my client base post-quarantine. Keep an eye out. And shout out to Salvatore Leonetti Salon for sending out personalized colour packages with video tutorials to help me discover this newfound talent.

I’m also eating three meals a day with my family.

Any bad habits? Checking the fridge between those three meals.

Favourite quarantine meal? My 10-year-old daughter just learned how to make scrambled eggs. They’re making their way into every meal now.

Piece of advertising that can always make you laugh…While this one won’t make you laugh, it is my favourite piece of advertising (see it below). It’s from Right To Play, a non-profit I’ve been involved in for the past 10 years. Extraordinarily powerful.

Thing you miss most about the office… Together time > solo time. I miss the team and the energy you get from connecting in-person.

What books are you reading? Loving it? Hating it? In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson. I’m a history buff and it never ceases to amaze me how much we can learn from the past.

Any TV, Netflix or streaming recommendations? We’ve been binging on Nordic mystery series (Bordertown, Trapped, The Bridge to name a few). Great writing, phenomenal acting, killer landscapes.

What song best represents your current state of mind? Or what is on your quarantine playlist? There may be a theme to the music I’m listening to right now…top three songs are: “Something On Your Mind” by Karen Dalton; “Walls” by Kings of Leon; and “And It’s Still Alright,” by Nathaniel Rateliff.

Advice you’d give yourself six months from now? Community above all else.

Any technology challenges/triumphs? Portal from Facebook is a huge step up for video calling. Even my dad is giving it a try.

Cherie O’Connor, Taxi

Have you developed any good habits about working from home? Yes, I’m using this opportunity to cultivate good habits: martinis at 5 p.m. and two-hour lunches, for example.

Any bad habits? Does compulsive hand-washing count?

Favourite quarantine meal? Pasta Puttanesca. All that garlic and anchovy make it the perfect physical distancing meal.

Piece of advertising that can always make you laugh… I recently saw this Go Bus ad (below) that really made me laugh.

Thing you miss most about the office… The people. I miss having casual conversations and inside jokes with the wonderfully weird humans that I work with. Oh, and getting to go home.

What books are you reading? Loving it? Hating it? Not a book exactly, but I’ve been reading Noble Rot, a quarterly from the eponymous restaurant in London. It’s an amazing amalgam of wine snobbery, British wit and the art of gluttony.

Any TV, Netflix or streaming recommendations? Mindhorn. It’s a Julian Barratt series from 2016. If there are any Mighty Boosh fans out there, you’ll love it!

What song best represents your current state of mind? Or what is on your quarantine playlist? I’ve been really into Muzak playlists. Basically, anything that makes me feel like I’m in a Sears in the 70s. It’s kind of like vaporwave, without the vapor or the wave.

Advice you’d give yourself six months from now… You should have done at least one push up.

Any technology challenges/triumphs? My Mother. Getting her set up for video chatting was a challenge but also a triumph.

Angela Ricci, Meridian

Have you developed any good habits about working from home? I never loved video conference calls when working from home because I was so easily distracted. Now I turn my camera on for almost all of my calls. It forces me to be present and resist temptations to multi-task. It also forces me to make myself presentable every day, which is good for my mental health!

Any bad habits? I am eating far too many carbs. I need to draw clearer boundaries between work time and family time. I am tempted to keep checking my e-mail in the evenings, which results in me missing out on some quality family time.

Thing you miss most about the office… I miss feeling more connected to my team and what they are working on as a result of real face-to-face interactions. Spontaneous conversations that spawn creativity and excitement about projects that we are working on. Now these opportunities have to be created and planned.

What books are you reading? Loving it? Hating it? I have started a book club with my two daughters. We are reading And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. One of my daughters doesn’t love reading so we are reading the book aloud together. It has been a really great bonding experience for us. We are only on chapter three, so too early to tell if we love it.

Any TV, Netflix or streaming recommendations? Season two of Afterlife just came out. It is funny and heartbreaking, I wish there were more than six episodes.

Steve Mast, Delvinia

Have you developed any good habits about working from home? On the professional front it has been the daily stand-ups with the executive team to ensure we are all on the same page and communicating well. On the home front, with two teenagers in the house we created “safe spaces” so that we could all get alone time when needed.

Any bad habits? Eating! Way too easy to eat, eat and eat more.

Favourite quarantine meal? Anything on the grill. I love to BBQ and now that the nicer weather is here I can do more of it.

Thing you miss most about the office… Being able to easily brainstorm and collaborate with the team on creative efforts. Having a group of people together in a room with a whiteboard may be old school, but it still produces the best ideas. Additionally, having a regular workspace would be great. While I’m making it work with what I have (including a bottle of gin and a box of Ritz crackers), it’s not quite the same.

Any TV, Netflix or streaming recommendations? It’s dark, but The Platform on Netflix was enthralling. Also, Tiger King is over the top. It’s a car wreck… I can’t not watch it!

 Advice you’d give yourself six months from now… We have been given a gift of time. Before COVID-19, the days, weeks and months were spent running like crazy. Meetings, planes, hotels, pick kid up from school, drop kid off at friends’ homes, the list goes on and on. The rat race. The world hit the pause button. Yes, my days are filled from early morning until late in the evening with Zoom meetings but I have had time to reflect and think. So in six months I want to remember to “hit he pause” button!

Any technology challenges/triumphs? Our entire staff has been able to move to remote work with almost no issues. It’s been incredible and we owe it in large part to the technology we have employed. That being said, a million Zoom calls don’t replace face-to-face interaction and that can be tiresome at times.



David Brown