MIDDLE-AGED PLAGUE - (Home) Space Trek: The continuing saga


Once while attending a Welcome Parents! orientation with my soon-to-be College Girl, I escaped the maddening crowd and settled myself in a public lounge. I was clacking away on a sweater when a woman stopped to watch.

"I really want to knit," she sighed.

"I can teach you," I said.

"Oh. I think I'd like that.But I just don't have a place to knit, you know?"

Considering that I was sitting in an orange plastic bucket chair in front of arickety, round, lime-green-Formica-covered table, I was surprised, and gestured to my surroundings.

"Knitting is portable," I said. "You don't need much room."

"But I do!" she replied. "We're converting the entire basement into a space for my writing room. Once that's done, I'll have the space I need to create."


The space to create.

My sewing room at my home out in the country near Dayton shares an 11-by-11-foot footprint withthe laundry room. My knitting hangs in bags on the coat rack or behind the sofa, ready to grab at any time.

My office?

The piano room.

The front door is eight feet to my right, and people and animals endlessly walk in and out of it. If the dogs were able to operate the doorknob, that would be distracting enough. But generally the small rat-thing hunches near the door, looks at me, looks at the door, emits a pale sigh, then renews the entire process until I get up to let her out.

Fifteen seconds later she is scratching to be let back in (if only the average human female could be that speedy in a public rest room).

The big dog plants herself three feet from the front door, faces me, and STARES.

Son and Heir slams his way out (teenage boys are incapable of shutting doors) and bursts back in. Tired of Being Youngest grabs the binoculars, whisks out to the porch, and peers 400 feet through the trees to the mailbox to see if the latest electronic thing she has ordered has arrived. The answer no, she stomps back in. SLAM.

The Siamese cat -- which, when we used to have lever doorknobs, effected a grand entrance by jumping on the lever and disengaging the latch -- now resorts to clawing up the door itself, peering through the small windows at the top and directing her malice toward the woman at the desk.

To his credit, the Norwegian Artist comes in from his barn studio only to deliver the mail or grab a cup of tea, but after the dogs and the cats and the Son and Heir and Tired of Being Youngest and the county tax assessor and the Fed-Ex guy and the UPS man and the kid selling cheap chocolate bars for the baseball team -- well, the Polish Contessa doesn't give the sweetest welcome to her Norwegian Prince.

It is not that I envy the Norwegian Artist his studio. After all, a large canvas, a palette full of paint, and an easel demand more space than a flat screen and a keyboard. And as a writer I don't stand back from the screen and wave my pencils around -- but I think I scared the man with my enthusiasm over his proposal to build a wall between my desk and the front door.

"Yes! Oh yes oh yes oh yes! Yes!" sounding like Jane accepting Mr. Bingleyin the 1995 "Pride and Prejudice" mini-series.

A wall, a barrier, separation from that dog-infested door.

Really, I am a remarkably easy woman to please, and back to my Stranger in the Afternoon who wanted to knit but didn't have the space, I am flabbergasted at the barriers people put up in the way of getting things done -- and I don't mean walls that block out front doors.

While designated space is nice, reality is that most ofwhat's available is taken up by dining room tables and sofas and bedrooms for children still living in the house and toilets and such. When you want to carve a niche out for your business or hobby, you have to be as creative as what you plan to do once you get the space to do it in.

Someday, maybe, the space will be there -- sliced off, remodeled, created, designed, spontaneously combusted.

But until then, there is work to be done, and if you're not doing it, well then, it's not getting done, is it?

Just do it -- whether or not you're wearing Nikes.


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