Friday, July 29, 2011

How do you work? PII: The Desk

"You can tell a lot about people when you look at their books, or their relationships, or their desks." -Anjali

Inspired by Anjali, who inspires a lot of my posts actually:

 Anjali has her lab desk. That is her desk. I live my life in front of several desks and go through a falling in and out of intense and passionate love with them. Right now, I am in transit and I have grown indifferent. No hatred. Just indifferent.

In 1st grade, I was in love with our new desks that Mom put in the living room. In love. My small knees fit comfortably under it. There was a well placed groove for pencils and pens. An inside to hide things. I was so sad when I outgrew the legit desk and had to move to a fold-able table and then even worse when I outgrew that to the kitchen table: the equivalent of homeschooled exile and reject in sixth grade.

In the residence halls, I made do with the desks found in the rooms. I spent hours there because I wasn't a fan of study halls or lounges to get my work done. The view was important. I always put the desk in front of the window so I could see something: in Simmons, this meant Mt Nittany once the leaves were gone and students wandering in various states of anxiety or rowdiness to get food in Redifer dinning commons. My desks are well placed for distraction.

Patty's Place was a house of great desks. Maggie had one that filled up the space under her bunk. She assembled it herself, deep cheery colored wood and carefully organized. Sarah chose the window with a desk that harkened back to my 1st grade one, but its lid was covered with pictures and other memories. When Rachel moved in, she brought probably my childhood ideal desk that had lots of spaces for books and letters to be tucked away. She kept it very neat.

And my Patty's Place desk. It was ideal. My preferred shape. The best placement possible. Free: a gift from the overflowing basement of the guys next door [Scott perhaps?]. I chose the window facing the garage and driveway, where it picked up the sunlight from the early morning and into the winter evening (the sun sets in very different places according to the seasons, I discovered).  I set it up with very little because it was small, with lots of space for my legs. My computer front and center. Stacks of papers (mostly my thesis in progress). A candle to remember how I couldn't have one in the residence halls. A pot made by the lovely Maureen Senft that held a myriad of pens for my colored ink whims. A short lean to the book shelf.

A desk to be distracted.

Now that they've moved out, I can confess that I was interested in the movements of my neighbors, Brad Scott (until he moved out), Billy Squire, Matt Martin, and Scott Umble. We slowly became friends over the year. I watched with inexplicable curiosity at Billy's wanderings from house to garbage cans to his car, leaving in his car, coming back in his car, and slowly wandering all over again. Or remarking on the odd hours Matt seemed to leave and come back, or how long Sarah's car was in the driveway, and whether the cars were in some state of "in the middle" repairs. Or how Brad was getting along with his knee (?) after surgery in how easily he navigated from house to car on his crutches. Alright. I admit it. I was also the occassional unseen guest in their middle of the night conversations.

I was a nosy Mrs. Lynd.

Very few seemed to notice my observatory perch. One night someone did. Before I knew ballroom people well at all (my adv 1 semester), Sarah drove some to our house late at night and walked from our place to a party. Matt Shimizu saw me at work at the desk an open window and yelled to hurry and get my dance shoes on-- we were going dancing! I couldn't see who it was so I ran downstairs to find Mike, Emily, Matt, and Sarah in the living room. Matt rolled up the rug, pushed the coffee table aside, and started a chacha without music, forcing me through cuban breaks. It took me a while to convince them that I really did need to work and couldn't go with them.

I can't remember what I was working on at all.

I will miss the desk spot by the window when I move Monday. I'll have to find a new place for it where I can be equally distracted from writing, from work, a new place to pile thoughts incomplete.

Invest not just in the desk but in the view.

Well... it depends on what you're after. It depends on who you are. Like your books, relationships, and desks, where you put it (or accept it) says something about who you are.

1 comment:

Charlotte Holmes said...

Jean Stafford, when she was married to Robert Lowell and living in Maine, kept her desk in the front hall, so she could keep an eye on the road. What looks like "distraction" can just as often be "inspiration," I think. The mind must wander, if it is to light upon the sublime.