Anatomy of a Desk

Want to know what the biggest game-changer is for me in our new apartment? Having a study. Specifically, having my own desk. I’ve always wanted a space that’s just mine at which to get work done, but we’ve never had space for another desk before! And after just a few weeks of experimentation, I am pleased to say that I have created my absolute perfect work space.


desk life

A. Nautical signal flags, courtesy of All Well Workshop. My college friend Amy started sewing these phrase sets of flags and selling them just before this past Christmas. I thought it was such a great idea that I bought a set, and then fought with myself for several days over whether or not I could really give it away to the person I had bought it for. (It was the set that meant “I will stay close to you during the night,” and I had bought it for my grandmother. You’ll be glad to know that I did not, in fact, steal my grandmother’s Christmas present from her.) I felt noble, but bereft. And lo and behold, Christmas morning came, and Galen had sneakily bought this set for me! It means “I am continuing to search,” and seemed just the thing to put over the place where I do some of my best thinking.

B. A spot of greenery (very dead greenery). This sprig of leaves, stolen from a dying bouquet at a recent dinner party, is here as a place-holder until I find something more aesthetically pleasing to put in this vase that Galen made for me while we were dating.

C. A framed index card with the words as one long prepared, and graced with courage written on it.  I first heard these lines (from “The God Abandons Antony” by C.P. Cavafy) at Mugu Rock one Christmas break, when I went to say farewell to the California coast before returning to college for the spring semester. My sister Kate recited the poem to me as we turned our backs to the sunset and walked to the car. Later that year, I wrote these lines on this index card and taped it to the visor of my 1997 honda civic, Peter. They were good companions as Peter and I drove across the country on a 10-day “soul trip” after graduating.

D. A crayon tin, for when the need to scribble becomes too great.

E. Tea, obviously.

F. Laptop, even more obviously.

G. A blue-tooth mouse, because touch pads are the worst and no one should have to deal with them if they can help it.

H. My Sarah’s Scribbles day-planner. I’ve made great progress, in recent years, toward not being as afraid/suspicious/grumpy about technology as is my wont, but online calendars are one thing I simply cannot transition into. I need those paper squares. I need the page to turn so that I can know, beyond question, that I really have survived this week!

I. A framed poem by Lucille Clifton, called “a dream of foxes.” It’s hard to tell in this photo, but the poem is also accompanied here by an ink painting I did back in college. I love this poem, and you should read it – but only after you’ve read the six poems that go before it (“telling our stories,” “fox,” “the coming of fox,” “dear fox,” “leaving fox” and “one year later”).

J. A tea bowl, courtesy of my extremely talented dad.

K. “Warm Winter Spices” candle because even though it’s 1000+ degrees here in Houston, smelling good is important.

L. Proximity to other art (in this case, a watercolor of Lake Shore Drive by Nancy King Mertz, an artist that I happened upon in Chicago and whose entire stock of scenic 5×7’s we plundered before moving away.

M. This print was previously hung in Galen’s grandmother’s study. It’s from Belgium, which is all I know about it, other than that I loved it so much that Galen brought it back from her funeral this past December.

N. A desk, of course. This simple little piece of furniture has helped to turn me into a person who knows when to work and when to relax, and I am grateful. Thanks, Desk!

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