Tuesday, August 31, 2010

why i haven't saved the world this summer.

It was brought to my attention recently that, although this journal is supposedly about living in a small space, I never really talk about it. Everything BUT that, actually. My sex life gets more air time than the 12x12. Maybe that's false advertising. So...

Here's a day in the life of the 12x12, and all the hijinks a family of three can get up to in a room of one.

4 am. Anainn wanders from his bed, blunders by chance into mine, and falls asleep on top of me. I plop him back onto his bed. He wanders back onto mine. I return him to his bed. He wails. Xir wakes up and grumbles something incoherent. Anainn crawls back to my bed. I give in.

5 am. Xir wakes up and announces this fact to the world at large. Also his desire for pancakes.

5:30 am. Xir and Anainn go outside to play. This is because the beds take up all the room in the house and I refuse to get up before 6 when it is still, technically, my vacation.

6 am. Xir and Anainn are both screeching about something. I give in and get up. After poking my grizzled head outside and hissing "QUIET!" I proceed to fold the blankets and stow them in the closet, fold up the futons, and tuck the pillows away. Then I spend about a half an hour clearing away the avalanche that tumbled out of the closet when I tried to stow the blankets in there. (Closet: about 6 feet tall, 2 feet wide, one foot deep. Its contents: my entire wardrobe, most of the boys' toys, all of my camping equipment, all of my shoes, my sewing machine, and if the stars align, the bedding. )

6:30 am. With the floor space thus freed, I proceed to make a cup of tea. I join the boys outside and water the garden while they chase each other around and get thoroughly muddy.

7:30 am. Breakfast time! With most of the garden's fertility now deposited on my floor, I serve up the food on the tiny table and then frantically scoot around sweeping and mopping while the boys are occupied. Then, when they're finished, I frantically scoot around under the table sweeping and mopping up all the food that used to be above it. Meanwhile they, of course, are merrily shedding food and mud all over the rest of the house. Sigh.

8:30 am. I clean the dishes right away, since the kitchen sink is no bigger than a dictionary. By the time I've executed the precise geometry of finding a place for everything in the cabinets, most of our worldly possessions are strewn across the floor. That's how Anainn plays. Throwing things. Preferably breakable things, or, failing that, throwing water over electrical devices that are, preferably, very expensive.

9:30 am. If I spend another minute in this toy-strewn mud-spattered egg-smelling tomb I'M GOING TO EXPLODE!!!!! The boys know this mood. They meekly put their shoes on and meet me at the stroller. It's outing time.

11:30 am. Back from the outing. I unload the groceries/library books/wild foods/pinecones and pebbles from the stroller, take one look at the house, and remember that there is no place to put them. I leave them in the garden while I do a whirlwind housecleaning and fix lunch.

12:30 pm. Naptime. This is tricky with only one room. If one of the kids is sleepy but the other isn't, the wakeful one always ends up keeping the other from sleeping. So usually I'll put the sleepy one inside and take the other out into the garden. If by some miracle they both sleep, I can't do anything in the house for fear of waking them. So I bring a book out to the garden or take a nap myself on any available surface. Usually the kitchen counter. Seriously.

2:30. If I spend another minute in this book-strewn mud-spattered peanut-butter-smelling tomb I'M GOING TO EXPLODE!! Outing number two.

5:00. I clear a path across the floor and make dinner. By this time of day clearing off the table would be a task too onerous to contemplate so we usually dine al fresco. Sometimes I build a fire in the firepit and we cook our food over it on skewers and tell stories. This method has the advantage of keeping me out of my dirty house until it is too dark to see, thus enabling me to postpone cleaning until dawn.

7:00. The kids have to sleep. Square footage has to be liberated for the unfolding of the futon. I put on some good music and we all boogy down whilst sorting toys and books and dishes and hummus-coated thingamajigs into the proper receptacles. I hose the kids down, we unfold and make up the beds and read a book, and then I tuck them in.

8:00. This is the part that blows the big one. The kids are resting quietly. If I want that happy state of affairs to continue, I'm done for the day. I've discovered that I can type quietly on my laptop, IF I dim the screen to an almost unreadable level and pop in the headphones. But I can't read (the light wakes them) or visit with friends or watch a movie or play guitar or cook...or any activity that requires any floorspace whatsoever. Sometimes I'll do some writing, and then take my guitar outside, build a fire, and sing and watch the stars. Mostly, though, I just go to bed when they do.

So: up at 4, in bed by 8, every moment accounted for. Hence the title of the piece.

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