Office Hours

Nimbin Business Hours

These business hours of a shop in Nimbin, Australia reminded me of my own. (Photo credit: Nimal S).

“Trick or treat,” Corrigan says.  This is her fifth request for candy. She walks around the dining table where I’ve set up my laptop, trick or treating around the house. Her little sister follows her in the parade. They stop at the closet, at the piano, at the staircase. Then back to me.

“I’ve given you a lot of candy,” I say as I put another imaginary Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup in her bag. “I’m going to have to save the rest for the other kids.”  This is code for I’m working and need to concentrate so keep on trucking to the other parts of the house.

“But you’re the only one who will give me candy,” she says.  I chuckle. And I wonder why in her imagination is this so. What’s happening at the piano or the staircase? Wouldn’t she imagine a neighborhood made of lollipops and chocolate brick homes? Wouldn’t every neighbor be willing to give out bags and bags and bags of candy? I continue typing my email, scanning my textbook, trying to concentrate on prep for my Tuesday night class.

I have an office downstairs. It is a space removed from the rest of the house. It is one of my favorite places to be. But on most days, I have to work on the main floor where the kids are so I can keep them in my peripheral while trying to get something done.

I love being in my office–alone. I call it my studio, since that implies more creative things happen in there than grading papers, returning emails, or paying bills. Before three kids that used to be the case. Now my office/studio is used more for being a teacher than a writer. My husband will agree to watching the kiddos while I work in the office, if the work I do in there earns a paycheck. Anything else is just whimsy. I imagine a day when he picks up our toddler and puts her on his hip and says, “Go, you! Get! Your writing time is important. You better get down there and get to work.”  Yeah, right.

One day I will get brave enough to demand otherwise. I am a writer, honey, and you will deal with making the mac and cheese and changing diapers while I draft Chapter 17.  I will dash, fearless of rejection, downstairs to my studio. I will write without the distractions of children running in circles or spewing toys underfoot. The time will go so well that my husband and I will make office–no, studio–hours a regular event. And viola! I will produce text worthy of publication.

Yeah, maybe.

My trick-or-treating daughter is at my side again.  “Mommy, pretend I’m a vampire, but you don’t know I’m a vampire.” She’s smiling at me behind bangs that need a trim. When I stand to play, her vampire self appears with hisses and growls. She attacks. I find her toddler sister holding a real bag of candy from Halloween. The chocolate lines her mouth. She needs a diaper change. I see the collection of Equestria Girls on the carpet. And we’re seconds away from another sibling dispute. I want to read/edit/keep writing.  But I hit publish anyway.


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