As we all find our own ways of working and creating during this period we wanted to hear from our Pioneers out there. We wanted to know how they’re staying sane and making the most of what life indoors has to offer. Fellow creative and Pioneer Chris Nelson is a writer and editor who has worked with some amazing brands. We caught up with him (from a very safe 5,000 miles distance) to hear what life is like in LA and how he’s enjoying his new role as Editorial Director at The Bike Shed LA.
For three years I have worked from home as a freelance producer and an at-large magazine editor, and while the effects of coronavirus have greatly disrupted my work life, I don’t mind much, really. Proposals and pitches are on indefinite holds, and stories and budgets are being cut without feeling, but I am calm, calmer than I have been, which seems significant considering the circumstances. It has been easier to see my life as it is, like it’s easier to see downtown L.A. without the smog of bumper-to-bumper commutes.
Days wasted staring through the window have been wonderful. My girlfriend Mallory and I live in a beautifully preserved 1914 Craftsman on the most picturesque, most walkable block in Long Beach, and our living room has a huge street-facing window that is especially good for people-watching because often passersby stop in front of our house to gawk at Luci, my 15-pound tabby cat who sleeps in a hammock in the window.
On the dining room table is a 1,000-piece puzzle, which Mallory and I have listlessly stared at for days. The inside is done and the border, too, but the space between is three-pieces deep, and the many remaining puzzle pieces are of one hue, and not one has a hint or distinguishing mark, and it’s a real bitch. If it weren’t for Mallory I would’ve given up days ago, but she is unbearably stubborn and refuses to be defeated.
Each morning after I make my coffee I sketch for a few hours, which is something I started after Mallory, who works as a nurse at a hospital in Long Beach, was exposed to a COVID patient and we began a 14-day quarantine. With a set of 80 adult-appropriate coloring markers and a few ounces of weed, I start by coloring a series of simple shapes, then a series of complementary shapes, and then more forms and layers of marker until a distinguishable-if-abstract portrait comes into view. I’ve enjoyed it a lot, and the results of my efforts far more than expected, and Mallory loves my “colorful cast of characters.”
I admire and adore her, my queen, and she is working her shifts at the hospital even though she not-so-secretly doesn’t want to. I wonder where her strength and her selflessness comes from, and all I can do to show her love is do chores, make our dinners, deliver an In-N-Out lunch to the hospital from time to time, and stay free of the haze of typical workday stresses that have plagued me for the past few years, for the better of us.
My home office is unused most days, but we did redecorate it during Mallory’s four-day, full-house “deep clean” extravaganza. Most of the emails I receive are from GrubHub, reminding me that we eat Taco Bell far too often, and the hours I usually spend on empty conference calls are shared with creative humans I respect and admire. I’m anxious to get back to work, reopen projects, push myself to do bigger productions, and learn how life goes on from here, but until then I’m enjoying the calm best I can, doing what’s best for me and those I love.