This morning I was chatting with my neighbor Sally and happened to mention NZ Muse’s yearning to own a house. 😀 This elicited a great deal of cackling from the old bats. Sally was hauling landscape trash out to the garbage can, dodging the puddles of water I’d backwashed into the alley. Both of us were covered in dirt and sweat. At 78, Sally is beginning to yearn for two bedrooms in Scottsdale at $1650/month, and I must say, that doesn’t look half bad to me, either.
If it weren’t that I don’t want to live in a rabbit warren, I’d be craving to follow her to the Scottsdale Country Club people warehouses, myself. Both of us rumbled, “Be careful, m’hijita, be careful what you wish for!”
Know what I wanted to do in the wee hours this morning?
I wanted to sit down in the leafy bower that is the side deck with a second cup of the nice tea I’d brewed for breakfast and finish writing the last scene in chapter 3 of the current novel. This would require an hour or two of uninterrupted concentration. Then, maybe I would take a walk to ease the aching back and hip.
Know what I didn’t want to do the first thing this morning?
- Scrub the remaining algae off the pool walls, still lurking there despite yesterday’s nuclear attack of superchlorination
- Backwash the pool filter to relieve it of the dead algae clogging its innards
- Undo the damage to the quarter-minus landscape top-dressing where the backwash hose got loose and excavated it
- Put Harvey the Hayward Pool Cleaner back into the pool
- Water the plants against the coming day’s dessicating winds
- Grind cooked chicken (which I’d forgotten…) and mix with veggies and oatmeal to make dog food
- Clean up the ensuing mess
- Clean puppy mud off the floors
- Stow pool chemicals and gear
- Refill the pool to replace water backwashed into the alley
- Pick up dog shit and carry it around the alley puddles to the garbage can
- Drag the puppy out of the flower gardens
- Wash mud and dried-on pee off the puppy
- Deconstruct the white puppy pool barrier (now replaced by the deconstructed X-pen), haul pieces of splintery wooden garden fencing to the west side of house, jury-rig barriers around the flower beds, and reinforce with wire garden fencing, creating a double puppy barrier.
- Broom or blower the leaves and dirt off the deck, flagstones, and patio
- Find the gate locks the yard dudes lost; reinstall on gates
- Recheck pool chemistry; calculate amount of acid that will need to be added after nuking pool water with chlorine
Here is what was on the list of things I planned to do — and still have to do today:
- Send estimate and return sample edit to prospective client
- Track down existing client and make appointment
- Plow through the mountain of bookkeeping I’ve been putting off for the past two months
- Send out weekly SBA meeting notice
- Read new proofs for diet book
- Return comments on graphics to designers
- Arrange time in computer commons for this summer’s 102 students
- Arrange library presentation for this summer’s 102 students
- Arrange library study/research time for this summer’s 102 students
- Buy some food
- Buy a pail to replace the pool pail that gave up the ghost after only 10 years of heaving acid into the water
- Drop Harvey the Hayward Pool Cleaner (now repaired after 45 minutes at the pool store yesterday…) back into the pool
- Vacuum, dust-mop, and wet-mop the floors
Interesting, isn’t it, how nowhere in there is any room for “finish last scene of chapter 3.”
Work expands to fill all available space. But, my dears, work on a house that allows you have pets and kids expands to fill all of time, space, and eternity. And it leaves exactly zero room for whatever it is you think you actually want to do.
That is when you are an old retired person with plenty of money and all the time and space in eternity.
Consider what happens when you are a young person who must hold a job to put food on the table. Most of your awake time is spent at your employer’s space. That leaves two days — the weekend — to fill with the eternity of work that a house and its accompanying amenities demand.
During that weekend, willy nilly, whether you live in a house or whether you live in an apartment, you have to devote some time to bare survival: to traipsing to the grocery store, to buying a few rags to cover your nekkidness, to picking up prescriptions, to visiting your decrepit parents, and on and on.
Now, buy a house. To those basic survival tasks — which often are enough to fill most of your weekend, especially if you’re the church-going type who kills half of Sunday down at your local cult HQ — add all of the first set of tasks above plus several of the second set, plus driving to Home Depot to pick up hardware, repair and maintenance items; plus mowing the lawn; plus trimming the shrubbery; plus cleaning out the garage; plus at least one repair job; plus driving back to Home Depot to return the junk that was the wrong size and buy new junk; plus another attempt at the repair job; plus schlepping the dog to the vet; plus schlepping the kids to soccer practice and games; plus fixing whatever you broke when you tried to do the repair job; plus driving back to Home Depot to buy more parts and tools to fix whatever you broke when you tried to do the repair job; plus driving back to Home Depot to return that stuff and get the stuff you didn’t think you needed; plus spraying for insects; plus planting flowers and vegetables or pulling out bug-eaten or exhausted flowers and vegetables; plus overseeing the kids’ homework; plus washing the dogs; plus taking the dogs to obedience training; plus hauling the shrubbery trimmings to the trash or out to the city dump; plus… plus… plus… plus…
Believe me. There will be no time for a movie. No time for ComicCon. No time for a picnic. No time for a baseball game. No time for a weekend day trip. No time to write chapter 3 of the great novel of the Western world. No time for blogging. No time for stamp collecting. No. Time. For. Nothin’.
Sex? Ha ha ha ha ha!!! Save it for that novel you think someday you’ll have time to write!
The grass on the other side of the fence is a lot more work than you imagine.