All in a Day’s Work

Day 14, 500 words, 31 days.

For the past several days I’ve stayed home in the mornings and afternoons, preparing a presentation I plan to give when I go to India next week.

Typically, I spend good chunks of my time at home wearing the same clothing I wore to sleep the night before. For hours, I’ll be seated in the same position and in the same place – slouched in the corner where the two halves of my couch converge to a ‘T’ usually – getting up only for the occasional restroom break or a refill of my cup of coffee or water. Many times I’d almost forget to have lunch, that is, until I start to smell whatever’s cooking next door. I try to imagine what they are having, then proceed to look for whatever that might be, among the hawker stalls down the street from our apartment.

The cats take turns chasing each other rowdily, like little children at an amusement park, or an open parking lot. It doesn’t really matter that our apartment isn’t open and large because there are several rooms for them to jet in and out of, and the furniture that we have sitting around only end up serving as an obstacle course the cats turn into their personal playground.

When they are finished exhausting themselves, they nap. And cats absolutely love to nap. When they are in this sedate state, I start thinking I have a legitimate chance at calm and constructive working conditions to last me the rest of the day. That is, unless I can manage to keep the t.v. off, or the tab of sports scores closed, or my tummy in check as it growls for more food. If I can prevent myself from indulging in these things, I could, potentially, get some work done.

But watching the cats nap is a beautiful thing. It is also rather sleep-inducing and often, I find myself getting coaxed into stretching out on the couch and letting my eyes get some shut-eye – some needed rest from too much screen time. The cats are bad, bad example.

Today, it was a miracle from God that I worked for two hours straight – likely my productivity ceiling for most days. Working those two hours made me feel like I had accomplished something significant, as if I had never gotten paid to sit in front of a computer for an entire day, before. Makes me wonder how I managed to string together eight of them on an average working day, back when there was an actual office and an actual commute to be had.

Feeling as though my day didn’t go to waste, I was satisfied enough that I spent the remaining half hour finishing up chores before picking up my wife from school. My wife, whose day is never lain to waste, is often exhausted by the end of it. She, unlike me, is actually standing for most of the day and moving her limbs as she explains basic mathematical concepts and how to properly sound out vowels to little children. By the time I fetch her at school, I concede, in my mind, who’s more tired (she is), and by the time I reach her classroom, I do my best not to say how little I had actually done. It just wouldn’t be good for either of us.

This afternoon after she finished up her prep work, we drove over to Georgetown, where the pet store is. This is not the only pet store in Penang, and there’s far more to Georgetown than visiting this pet store. But some days, we go all the way to Georgetown, specifically for this one pet store. Usually, we leave with one or two items – cat litter or vitamins to mix in with their food.

Thankfully, the store is situated near a large outdoor food court called New World Park. We decided to have an early dinner there. We both ordered a bowl of Mee Suah, a type of thin, wheat flour noodle. I had pork, and she, duck. It wasn’t bad – though it had a more herbal flavor than we had both anticipated. We ate it all anyway, mostly in silence.

By the time we were through, the plastic chairs around us were left mostly unoccupied. The noise of the food court settled into a hushed, undecipherable murmur. The sun prepared for its quiet exit behind the horizon. Meanwhile, the sky was turning a deeper orange, with the slightest suggestion of blue. And that was our cue, to head back home.

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