I am the one that does the dishes in my house. After some experimentation, it became apparent that I could wash dishes more quickly, and fit more into the dish rack than my Beloved. Granted, he might get them somewhat cleaner, but looking at the big picture, it’s better if I do them. He puts them away, and so far this arrangement has proven to be most functional.
I have been on vacation this week. I won’t say that I “earned” it because all humans have an inherent right to a balanced work/life existence. Since my Beloved changed jobs after the heart of the Pandemic saw his 15-year gig end, I have a couple of weeks to use by myself. I intended for this week to be a DIY writer’s retreat for myself at home. I apply from time to time to stay at these exotic locales as if a change of scenery would stimulate the creative juices and all that. So far I’ve never been accepted, for reasons I can only guess at. My pet project right now isn’t one that would appeal to either the Hipsters or the Beats. In fact, I’ve probably pursued it all these years for primarily my own satisfaction. Nevertheless, I was committed this week to spending big, uninterrupted chunks of time rewriting, revising, adding new poems, and subtracting ones that don’t contribute to the narrative. Aside from Monday, when a baseline bone density test scuttled my plans for the day, I’ve been able to spend about 3 hours each day on the project and making satisfactory progress.
I mention the dishes because it has taken a tremendous amount of self-discipline to not be distracted by the many household chores that on some level I feel I should be performing, instead of selfishly engaging in my art. Funny, you never read about Kerouac finishing up the vacuuming while Neal waits for him in the car. Who does Hunter Thompson’s laundry? When did Hemingway find time to clean the bathroom? It’s the kind of nagging sense of obligation that I’m sure was a part of Plath’s disturbance, made more extreme by the rigged times she found herself in. I’m not certain there are more dead white males in the literary canon because they were better writers by any means. I think that as males, they felt little to no obligations to home or family. They seized their natural born entitlement, and were supported in their delusion by hapless spouses.
This is not to say that I’m not supported at home in my artistic pursuits. My Beloved knew what he was getting into 20 years ago, and I dare say he’s enjoyed parts of it. He does have a “poetry quota” above which he is allowed to stay home. There is no nagging about the state of the house, and we are generally both comfortable with the dust and the undone dishes. Yes, quick as I am, I don’t always seem to reach the bottom of the sink. We tried a Sunday morning routine where we switched off between cleaning the bathroom and kitchen. This worked for a while, then we traveled, then COVID came to visit. We’ll see if we can regain that cleaning mojo again this weekend.
In the meantime, I hope to get my 3 hours in today right after I finish this. Then I’ll start dinner plans, which default to whoever is home first. I return to work on Monday, and the juggling begins again—art, house, work, health. Perhaps not in that order.