Creative Under Quarantine: Claire Wyatt on her 'Three Men and a Baby' setup (minus baby)
In our series Creative Under Quarantine, we’re asking agency and other creative execs to document their lives in isolation during the coronavirus pandemic—from their new work habits to the mundane or farcical moments that come with being cooped up at home.
In our latest installment, we get a peek into the lockdown routine of Claire Wyatt, a copywriter at Joan Creative who has created campaigns for Fiber One, Brawny and Graduate Hotels, among others. Here, she paints a colorful picture of her sheltering rituals with her best friend and boyfriend roomies, and of "doing time" in her makeshift home office she lovingly refers to as "solitary."
If you have a quarantine story to tell, get in touch with Ad Age’s Creativity Editor Ann-Christine Diaz at [email protected].
8:55 a.m. I get out of bed and slip on my bunny slippers–once only a weekend comfort, they’re now my constant companions. As a result, they’ve aged prematurely and are nearly geriatric, their once snow-white fur now matted. The three of us hop away to the kitchen.
8:58 a.m THUMP THUMP THUMP. No, that’s not the bunnies. It’s me violently banging the coffee basket against the trash can. Despite the noise, the men of the house are not disturbed: my best friend/roommate (Logan) and my best friend/boyfriend (Boris). Our dynamic is very “Three Men and a Baby” without the baby. We all work in advertising, so our erratic schedules complement each other nicely.
10:30 a.m My morning coffee is the best part of my day, which is inconvenient, because there’s always that question: what now? My weeks have been (thankfully) busy with work, so between keeping up with my projects and the mezcal habit, quarantine has actually flown by. But I suppose the “Sunday Scaries” are, along with the rest of the population, adapting to a new schedule, and feel more than welcome showing up 12 hours early today.
But, I remind myself, the key is to STAY BUSY. Logan, for example, picked up the cross-stitching habit, ambitiously diving into the composition of a little red sailboat. Although the project seems mostly abandoned now, I still find little bits of red string around the house that would suggest a conspiracy theorist just took down his wall of evidence. At any rate, I’ve been reading all the books in my house that are too unruly to take on the subway; they’ve been living a life of leisure on various surfaces, thankfully spared the usual battering and bruising that books carried in my bag pre-quarantine went through.
2:00 p.m. The best thing that has come out of this is reconnecting with a friend of mine who now lives—yes, I’m jealous—in Maui. We usually Facetime every Sunday at 2:00pm, but because it’s so beautiful, I strap on my mask and call her the old-fashioned way. However, I’m still getting used to the fact that my mask filters droplets, not sound, SO I’M PRETTY SURE I SOUND LIKE THIS TO EVERY PERSON I PASS BY, EVEN FROM SIX FEET AWAY.
3:10 p.m. At the store, I stock up on the essentials: two bottles of a CBD-infused drink called, appropriately “VYBES,” marked down from $7.99 to $2.99 (a remnant of a time before this, when our collective anxiety only took 25mg of hemp to treat). And because I’m proactive, my impressively beige shopping list includes: a pint of Van Leuwann’s Honeycomb Ice Cream, a squeeze-bottle of mayo and two cans of coconut cream (remember this, we’ll return to it later). Of course I did not bring a reusable bag (funny thing: just when I was getting in the habit, a world pandemic happened), so I have to buy one for $1.99.
3:14 p.m. One strap of the reusable bag tears off, forcing me to MacGyver the strap around my shoulder and carry on. The ice cream is melting. I gotta get home, fast. As I power walk, I’m fueled by anticipating the satisfaction of throwing this bag—that couldn’t even call itself single use—in the trash.
3:30 p.m. I get home, take off my mask and wash my hands, following CDC protocol to a T. I pop open the ice cream to inspect the damage, causing a ribbon of ice cream soup to trickle down the side. Instinctively (and disgustingly), I lick the side of the cardboard—National Geographic-style—and pop the top back on. No sooner do I do this, than I realize what I just unconsciously did is definitely against CDC protocol. I’m convinced I will become the first person in the tri-state area–if not the entire world–to contract COVID-19 via artisanal desert.
7:00 p.m. The evening cocktail hour begins, as the three of us gather around tonight’s book of spells: 1957’s seminal classic "The ABC of Cocktails." Because people REALLY knew how to make a drink back in the day, each cocktail is so potent that by the end of your second drink, you start to really believe it’s 1957. Who wants a daiquiri?
8:30 p.m. Yep, it’s definitely 1957.
8:00 AM-9:17 a.m. I wake up to a blaring hellscape, because Boris and I did not sync up our alarm schedule–a fatal error. First mine goes off (SNOOZE), then his (again, SNOOZE), then my first alarm rings out again (SNOOZE), just in time for my second alarm to start blaring for the first time (SNOOZE). It seems like each time we hit snooze, another seven alarms start going off, at erratic, irregular times. You would think we would just count our losses and wake up, but we won’t be defeated. The alarm goes off again, and fumbling, we’re dismayed to find it’s not coming from either of our phones—instead, it’s Logan’s alarms, piercing through our shared wall. It cuts off mid-ring: it seems he, too, is snoozing.
10:00 a.m. I do eventually roll out of bed and onto the first VC of the week: our all-agency status. Technically this is a required meeting but it has the air of an impromptu get together. I miss my co-workers, while thinking about how strange it will be to see their legs again someday. I’m taking the call in my “home office,” an abandoned room we lovingly call “solitary”—due to the fact that its only light source is a heavily-barred skylight. In the summer, the temperature in here averages an arid 104 degrees. Still, during the relatively cooler months, it’s an ideal place to “do time” and concept creatively.
10:30 a.m. I stay in solitary and team up with my lovely creative partner, Sophia, to collaborate on a “mini-deck.” We usually prefer to dig a bit deeper (more in the 100+ slide range), but every once in a while, a mini-deck is nice. Cute, even. Short, sweet and to the point.
11:00 a.m. We take a break from the mini-deck to check in with our producer and editor on another project we’re working on. While admittedly it can be hard working on collaborative projects remotely, I’m finding the process of editing is actually more streamlined. Maybe because I’m not sprawled out in the studio, eating M&M’s in the dark, asking, “Can we see that again?” (over and over—and over—again). Instead, all of us are super efficient, and give our notes, and let the editor work his magic, before we share it with our ECD for the first time at 3:00.
12:00 p.m. This is the agency break hour—when we collectively do everything we can to not schedule meetings so everyone can get a break from the screen. Today, I spend the hour thinking about going for a walk, while staying inside instead.
3:00 p.m. With the notes from this morning addressed, it’s time to share the film with the team. However, I lose track of time working on something else and am late to the call. As a result, I miss their initial reactions (the best part!) but am told via G-Chat that there were “good tears.” In typical fashion, I do make it in time for the actionable feedback.
4:00 p.m. Now that the tears have dried, Sophia and I return to the mini-deck, which is now several slides heavier and no longer so “mini.” They grow up so fast.
7:00 p.m. Logan, Boris and I close up shop for the day, just in time to open the windows and cheer and clap, as we do every evening, for the healthcare workers who are keeping us safe. While participation is sadly low on our street in Bushwick, there are always a few neighbors we hear out of the windows. Tonight, Logan gets particularly vocal, perhaps making up for our silent neighbors, clapping and whooping and hollering at the top of his lungs. From the street, our landlord’s husband looks up, confused. He definitely thinks we’re cheering for him.
7:02 p.m. It’s cocktail hour(s)! Tonight, we’re making piña coladas—the perfect drink for enjoying summer indoors. With total confidence, we add all the ingredients to the blender: rum and pineapple juice and coconut cream and ice cubes. This is going to be delicious.
7:04 p.m. We take our first sips and exchange glances. A heavy feeling is in the room. “Kind of watery, isn’t it?” Logan asks. Yes, admittedly, it tastes like the ghost of a coconut, the ghost of a summer, a bad omen for summer fun yet to come. But quarantine has taught us not to waste, so we fill up our glasses, and ceremoniously coronate them with red maraschino cherries, as if they were actual piña coladas, and not disgusting imitators. At least, if nothing else, we’ll be hydrated. Cheers!
8:00 p.m. No one can catch a buzz and we still have half a blender of this stuff to drink. None of us admit it, but we’re now officially disgusted with the idea of piña coladas. Maybe forever.
9:45 a.m. For a young professional in quarantine, it’s so important to get up, get dressed and prepare for the day. Sadly, I rarely do. Left to my own devices, I resist any kind of schedule, take erratic afternoon showers and approach “business casual” as business from the waist up, and casual from the waist down. Meaning: most days, I pair a turtleneck with pajama pants.
11:30 a.m. First VC of the day, checking in on the edit. Sophia went for a run this morning and has the glow of productivity about her. I, on the other hand, look like the Big Lebowski. Yin and yang is so important in creative partnerships. With the bones of the edit in place, we get into the nitty-gritty: the pacing and supers and transitions. And, as always, the music.
12:30 p.m. Perhaps inspired by today’s pajama aesthetic, I extend the morning with a breakfast-inspired lunch: two eggs, sunny side-up, on toast.
1:00 p.m. We check in with our ECD. The conversation turns–unsurprisingly–to pacing and supers and transitions. And music. We need more tracks.
3:08 p.m. Finally, I take my “morning” shower. I feel refreshed, and ready to take on the day. Or what’s left of it anyway.
5:00 p.m. The first client call of the week and the first time they’ll see the edit. We spend the first few minutes of the call on mute, as everyone watches the cut. A few minutes pass, and one by one they share their thoughts: overall, everyone is happy. We’re thrilled. This is the best way to end the day.
8:40 p.m. Logan is in the kitchen, making ragu. Boris and I settle in the living room, flipping through the movie options. We all agree on "Shallow Grave," a 1994 Ewan McGregor-led thriller. It takes place in Edinburgh. Despite the fact that the film is in English, before two lines of dialogue are completed, we have to put on the subtitles.
10:30 p.m. Pre-quarantine, my bedtime hovered around 11:00 p.m. or 11:30 p.m., but since quarantine began, I stay up later and later, commiserating until 1:00 or 2:00 a.m. There is a part of quarantine that feels like an eternal sleepover (which, to be fair, it is). "Shallow Grave" was a bit of a bust, but we decide to try another one. We’re all so sick of movies, we don’t even really watch them anymore. They’re just background noise, something to react to. I guess you could say it’s been another boring night of quarantine, but I secretly know I’ll be nostalgic for this very feeling one day. Likely when I’m wearing real pants again.