This is my office today, however there have been others. This vintage column was published in the newspaper way back when it was still titled "On My Mind." I've had two offices since this was written, but some things never change. I still need a place for creating both through the written word and with crafty and sewing things. Although some of the items from my old office are now obsolete, especially the hamsters, stuff will still pile up!
February 27, 2004
For the first time in weeks I managed to get out and walk around the place a little bit. Between the bitter temperatures and the layers of ice everywhere, going outside for a break has taken on a treacherous new meaning. It felt great to get a little sunshine and stretch my legs. I’ve been quite sedentary for the past week because I have tackled a huge task – a chore so vast, I could probably star in my own television makeover story titled: Office –Insurmountable Odds and Ends.
For some, organizing their office space might mean an afternoon project of a mere few hours spent leisurely leafing through files followed by a light dusting. However, for those who write and find virtually everything INTERESTING, an office revamp is a task of mythical proportions. After several trips to a variety of stores offering organizational products, I do believe I am ready for the job.
Coming from a person whose sister sent a refrigerator magnet that says “Martha Stewart doesn’t live here and it’s a good thing” this is difficult for me to admit, but darn it, the woman is an organizational genius. I just happened to pick up a little digest-sized Martha publication while out and about purchasing hanging files and folders (color coordinated), plastic storage tubs (stackable) and a packet of sticky labels (removable). On the front, the magazine boldly claims to hold within its covers 100 ways to unclutter my home. Now, I know Martha is presently otherwise occupied, but I say show me the way to neat and tidyville.
As I read, I had to chuckle in disbelief at people whose only office requirements are places to store receipts and keep a small computer for an occasional net surf. I can’t imagine being able to stow everything in a niche the size of a large pizza box. The only things sitting around were a single pen, a roll of stamps and a red rose in a vase. Where do they keep the coupons, the keys that don’t open anything, but that we are too paranoid to dispose of, the permission slips, the half-drunk mugs of coffee, the hamsters, the overflowing “in” baskets, the empty “out” baskets, the catalogues, the stickers, the markers, the piles of research, the cats, the letters from adoring readers – oh, wait, they’re in my fantasy office. Luckily, Martha also offered solutions for offices like mine. And fortunately we have an office already built in the house. It’s not large, but compared to the pizza box premise, it is a vast, rolling plain – with built-in shelves and until last night, a massive desk – a mastodon of a desk. According to Martha and any number of household decorating shows, it was just as obsolete. The desk, before its timely removal, was not only archaic, it was obstinate. Like a bratty kid continuously sticking his tongue out at me, it had a bottom drawer that refused to stay closed.
I tried every solution that my toolbox challenged mind could invent. First I chocked up the affected corner of the desk, but after writing for a while, I’d start listing to starboard. I wrapped thick rubber bands around the affected drawer to build it up so that it would cling to the top drawer, but the bottom drawer chewed through them one at a time, until they would give way at odd moments, making it appear as if, much to the cats’ delight, brightly colored snakes were launching themselves out of the drawer. I looped string through both drawers and tied them together, only it was too inconvenient, having to untie every time I needed a file. Finally, in a last resort effort, I jammed a ruler down through the drawer handles, but it kept slipping to the floor.
Eventually an idea formed. Perhaps the desk was not meeting our needs. Maybe, just maybe, somewhere out there a solution to our problem was lurking. Our youngest daughter thought about the space problem for about 10 seconds and came up with a suggestion.
“Why don’t you attach a desk to the wall?” Out of the mouths of babes . . .
And it must have been serendipity that our friend found time in his busy schedule to come and perform carpentry miracles with walls and desks at the same time I discovered Martha’s little book.
But, the biggest miracle of all was that our oldest daughter, who is notorious for her messy ways, said: “Mom, take this book away from me! I just had an overwhelming urge to buy padded hangers!”