My photo session with my friend Danette has left me green with envy. Of what, you ask…her artistic talent? Her flawless skin? Her TWO electric fireplaces? Her adorable, big bicep-ed husband who knows how to use hair product and calls her “Peaches?”
Her quiet, attic-level, shiny floored, white walled, filled-with-natural-light studio. But the best part? It’s ALL HERS. She doesn’t share the space with baskets of laundry, plastic containers of summer clothes that never quite found their way to the basement, a broken drying rack, random puzzle pieces, a stained rug where the dog puked up a sleeve of Thin Mints…
No, it’s perfectly empty. Clean. Fresh. A blank canvas.
In 2012 I have taken on a few more writing commitments – in addition to MOB I am now a contributor to yoga teacher Deborah Williamson’s site Wild Abundant Life. And, just because I like to keep the stress elevated to a respectable teeth grinding pitch, I am also taking a writing class. You know, the kind with homework.
My time and place for writing has always been 5-7 AM at the kitchen table. This worked when all I was doing was ranting journaling or working on something sans deadline. But now that I am working on three different assignments with three separate deadlines…two hours at the kitchen table ain’t cutting it.
Thankfully I have very supportive husband who also happens to be an engineer. If you don’t have the space for an office, create the space! Plus, it’s an excuse for him to strap on that tool belt. Within a few hours time, Voila! He introduced me to my new office.
Well, closet. In the guest room. You know, the one with the drying rack.
“Look, it’s genius! I just screwed off the doors and stuck a desk in there. And you can stack all your books on that piece of plywood.”
“What happens when my mom comes to visit?”
“Well…she’s not coming anytime soon, right?”
The closet office had it’s maiden voyage last Sunday. I had a 2:00 deadline for my writing class, and Phil agreed to take the girls out for bagels and the library while I worked. It was a great plan…in theory.
9:30 AM: Jessie retreats to her closet office and closes the door.
“Phoebe touched my American Girl Doll!”
”In the bathroom – MOM! SHE STILL HAS IT! MOMMMMMM!!!”
9:40: Phil resurfaces and returns doll to loudmouthed owner.
10:00: Bloodcurdling screams from Phoebe’s room.
”Hey Jess? Phoebe won’t let me dress her. She wants you to do it.”
”Phoebe, let Daddy put your clothes on.”
“NOOOO!!!! I WANT YOOOOOOUUU DO IT!! MOMMY!!! DADDY NOOO!”
10:05: Return to office after dressing Phoebe. Close door.
10:20: “Jess? Where are Emma’s mittens? Oh, and have we officially lost all the sippy cups?”
2:13: Jessie submits half-baked assignment, 13 minutes late.
Phil agreed the “Mommy is not here, pretend she’s invisible” approach is still a work in progress. So yesterday morning I got a babysitter for Phoebe so I could finally get some writing done. I settled on Starbucks as my destination. People do work at Starbucks, right? As I stood in line waiting for my Vanilla Rooibos tea, a voice behind me said, “Fancy meeting you here!”
That’s right – it’s Tim the Tool Man, aka. My Husband. My husband who knows 85% of all Main Line Residents, and about 50% of the patrons at Starbucks: “Jess, this is Stephanie. You remember Stephanie, her twin sister Lisa lived next door to me in Bryn Mawr…wow, we should get together, what does our March calendar look like….”
Twenty five minutes later I settled into what I thought was a quiet corner of Starbucks. Until a 30-something metrosexual plopped down on the nearby leather couch having a passionate discussion via Bluetooth: “Are you fucking kidding me? He’s going to give Mike a banner campaign? That’s just lazy thinking, where’s the PUSH? I don’t usually get pissed off, but right now I’m getting PISSED OFF!”
Yeah, I hear you, buddy.
This morning was my last ditch effort to get something accomplished. Phoebe and I went to the gym, our usual routine a few mornings a week. After putting Phoebe in the Kid’s Zone, rather than jump on the treadmill, I found a free cubicle.
It looks deserted, almost peaceful, right? Well, not for long. Within a few minutes all I could hear was: “Lila, hold the rope…Lila, eyes on me….Joey, stay with our friends please….Earth to Peter, where’s our caboose? Ok, now raise your hand if you need a drink.”
No, I didn’t raise my hand. But I thought about it.
So, as I type this, Phoebe is napping and I am back where I started: the kitchen table. There is nothing clean or shiny about it: stacks of books, finger paints and kindergarten site word cards litter the surface. But in a weird way, even the hardened peanut butter I never quite get around to scraping off the edges feels oddly comforting. Maybe because it fits in with the rest of my life right now…a life that is messy and full.
Virginia Woolf said, “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” Maybe one day I will have that perfect attic studio, but for now I will keep on stealing the moments when I can: at 5 AM, in the school pick-up line, at Starbucks or in my closet office.