For about six years now, Joe has owned a custom built recording studio here in Toronto. Designed perfectly, it was 2600 square feet of the stuff that music is made of, and every inch of it packed with things that make music geeks all excited. (I know there are music geeks out there and some of you are going to ask me now what these things are. I don’t know. I hear words like Studer, Neve, Drawmer and McCurdy. He speaks of Analog and tubes and resisters. He can’t explain the fleeces in the basement, I can’t explain the boxes at the studio. It’s an understanding.) This studio isn’t just a business for Joe, it’s also where he has his stuff. It’s where he talks on the phone, it’s where he can take things apart and leave disassembled stuff in a box on his desk. It’s where he can have paintings I don’t like and posters I think are stupid…it’s his space entirely, and it keeps me from having to have all of that stuff in our tiny house. It’s good. Really good. I work here where I have manuscripts and wool lying around, he works there where he has albums and wires everywhere…nobody gets in each others way. (Much. There is a small issue with my office also being his home and whether or not that means he has the right to sit in my office chair and touch my desk hang out here during any part of my workday, but I’m sure that by the time I’m 84 we’ll have hashed that out.)
This month, however, Joe’s landlord suddenly decided that he was not going to be in the landlord business anymore, and whammo, Joe doesn’t have a business any longer. (I really think this is harder to take than a bankruptcy. Closing a successful business bites.) Joe will start the business again when we find another location to build a studio in, or maybe Joe will begin a venture of another nature, but these things take months to sort out, and until that happens Joe has had to vacate the old space. There are three problems with this.
1. Joe is unemployed freelancing now.
2. Joe’s stuff is EVERYWHERE. All the big stuff, consoles, tape machines, that kind of thing went to storage, but if Joe’s going to freelance, a lot of his equipment needs to be set up and accessible, and that means this is in the kitchen.
This is in the basement. (Formerly known as the house of Washie)
Worst of all (and a clear violation of home sharing rules) this stuff is in my office. My sweet little office, my room of my own…
My space. (There is yarn and needles in that cupboard…now totally blocked by sound equipment.) There’s even more in the backyard waiting to come in.
Joe is working hard to move stuff in and out, but right now it’s a lot of traffic, all through the tiny office I’m clearly not going to be working in for a few days.
We have a 1300 square foot house with a family of five in it, and even just bringing part of a 2600 square foot studio into this place is way, way too much. (Truthfully, if you have a family of five in a house this size, a bar of soap can be a difficult addition to negotiate.) If one more thing with a resistor or a transistor comes into this house we’re going to have to start going outside to change our minds…and that’s not even the worst of it.
3. Joe is home. All day. With me. In this house, which, during the day is not in fact our home, but my office. He is drinking coffee. (That means I keep going into the kitchen and finding no coffee. That is a problem.) He is talking on the phone. (It is daytime. Nobody should be talking here.) He is turning on the tv (Dude? No tv in the office.) He is organizing his stuff….well. I can’t really complain about that. Not if I want the kitchen, office and backyard cleaned up, but you know what I mean. I love this man, I really do, but this is My Space. I work here. I write here and there should be no other people drinking coffee while talking on the phone in my space. I feel sure of this. So sure, in fact that I am hostile and edgy, annoyed and bothered – as well as locked in the bedroom.
This is not part of my system, and I really do like, love, need my system. The system is the only thing that helps me get anything done at all. I know this is temporary, I know this is necessary and I am certainly ever so sympathetic to how hard this is for my darling man. I have taken deep breaths and unkinked my shoulders and I am working hard to remember that this sort of thing is part of being a team…but it doesn’t change the fact that I’m on a deadline and there’s a hairy coffee drinking dude surrounded by wires and tubes talking on a phone in my our office.
I’m reminded of my Great Aunt Helen. My Uncle Don had finally retired and after 50 years of marriage and spending her days alone I wondered how Helen would like having Don home with her all the time. I called and asked her how it was going. “I don’t know dear” she sighed “I have to tell you, this might not be working out. I really married Don for better or for worse… not for lunch.”
I get that now. Reach over that amplifier and pass me a coffee.