Our kitchen table is actually two tables pushed together. Their heights are off by about the width of a pencil; wood surfaces by about five shades. In the early afternoon, I sit facing the lighter of the two.
A lukewarm cup of tea. A yellow highlighter. A strip of post-it page markers. A book I was supposed to have finished for last week, but, given the circumstances, I know I will not be reprimanded so long as I finish it by the end of this one.
The darker-wood table within our kitchen table is covered in carvings. An alien head. A car composed of right-angles. A spaceship abducting a cow, eternally in-process.
One of four housemates sits there, directly opposite me, still in his PJs. Every 15 minutes or so, he shifts his attention between painting a fish on a small piece of driftwood (soon to be added to the growing-collection of driftwood fish lining the windowsill) and reading a book.
Paint-stained paper towels. A knife covered in peanut butter. A can promising “Beef Flavoured Broth” half-filled with murky water.
He tells me it’s written by the founder of Patagonia. I nod, but don’t look up from the sentence I’m highlighting:
“She had a new urge for something other than pure forward momentum” (NW, Zadie Smith)
We live in this moment until he has only three pages left of his book and the fish is missing only a few sections of colour. My book seems to be sprouting new pages when I blink.
I nestle a bookmark against the spine, sandwich it in place with a swift clap, and angle the top of the book down towards me. I make a quick mental comparison between its current placement and the ghost of where I’d retrieved it from this morning.
Two pages left, my housemate puts his book face-down on the table — unread section stretching away from read section like comically disproportionate legs doing the splits.
Did you know that at Patagonia women make up over 50% of employees? And that their HQ in Ventura has a daycare so that they can bring their kids to work after their maternity leave is over?
No, I say. That’s pretty crazy.
Yeah, and you’d think that would end up costing them more, right? Well apparently not, apparently having the women be able to come into work has increased the office’s overall productivity so much that it over-compensates for the cost of the daycare. Can you believe that? Women are so much more productive than men that it actually costs less — better yet, makes them more money — to build and maintain a full-on daycare so more women can work there than to hire more men.
I look down at my book.
Two other housemates scream at each other through headsets from rooms on opposite sides of the house. One rapidly clicks his mouse. The other ravages his keyboard. Laugh. Scream. Laugh. Groan.
The fourth housemate sits wrapped in a blanket at a table next to the window in the front room. The window is large and single-pane, but provides a much better view of the mountains than our rent would suggest. She flips through slides on her laptop methodically. Equations. Diagrams. Definitions. Graphs. Know that. Remember that. Learn that.
Women are clocks. Always tick, then tock.
Too late. Dried up. Out of time. Next in line.
Can you believe that women are so much more productive than men?