Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Bravely Obey Cribs Edition: Sequestered
Welcome back, my little Peeping Toms! How about a tour of the smallest bedroom in our house?
While I was winnowing down the 40 or so photos I took of today's room, I realized something. Our guest room: my office, storage, catch all room, looks like a well traveled teenage girl's bedroom. It's probably the room that resembles my style most closely. Other than the lack of Justin Bieber, or in my day, Christian Slater posters on the wall, it looks young. There isn't a real style to the room other than lots of stuff I love shoved in our tiny, cozy space. And lots of color. There isn't a single beige wall anywhere in our house, but this room is actually just plain white. The only plain white room in the entire house. But because there's so much color scattered throughout, I hardly even notice.
Our mothers helped paint this room when we first moved in. They giggled and dripped and joked about painting the "nursery" and Joe got huffy and frustrated and came in to do clean up after they finished. It was hilarious, and they just laughed and really took the painting party part to heart.
For a long time, most of the seven years we've lived in this house, this room had no ongoing purpose. The occasional welcome guest would scrunch into the super smooshy, pillow covered double bed. My vintage decorated suitcases are filled with ribbon and wrapping paper supplies so this is the present wrapping and gift storage room, just like Candy Spelling. Though Candy certainly has more square footage and I'm doubting Candy wraps her own gifts with paper she bought at Big Lots. Just a guess.
So this room wasn't used very often. Until this summer. In June, I attended this Writer's Weekend seminar and realized that I wanted, needed, had to for my own sanity, get writing regularly again. I decided that sharing an office space with Joe and keeping my focus would be impossible. We just work differently. I see the messy chaotic office that we shared and I think, "I have to stop this very important thing that I need to do right now, I must clean the office. I must clean it now. I cannot rest or do anything else until it is clean." And Joe hates this. Clearly I have a mental illness of some variety. Probably just a garden variety neurotic anal-retentive. I come by it genetically.
But this cleaning obsession distracts me from actual valuable creative stuff I'd like to dig into. (Let me quickly clarify, by cleaning I don't mean straightening carpet fringe or cleaning the grout with a toothbrush. I mean tidy up, remove clutter, restore visible order, that's all.) So instead of being a pain in the ass, we moved an old desk that we bought at a garage sale a couple of years ago up from the basement. I love this desk. No really love it. It's all scratched and beaten,the greenish stain is wearing off and it used to be in the old Plaza library. It's flat and basic and not too big. It had been languishing underutilized as a box holder in the basement and now the desk can fulfill it's true purpose, holding me up while I repeatedly slam my head against it's well worn, broad flat surface, frustrated with the nonsense that I am somehow still typing into my laptop everyday. Step one complete: work space ready.
Joe bought me this incredibly useful laptop lifter that props up my laptop to a decent eye level and a wireless keyboard. Step two done, and now I feel like a real writer. And finally I moved some beloved tchotchke into the room. Stuff that I like to look at. Things that make me think of happy memories or little pieces of art to rub when I'm trying to figure out how to say what I want to say, or art that I can stare at and feel all stirred up and thoughtful. And magically I have my very own perfectly simple office space. And a happier marriage because of it.
This menacing gentleman is an Nkisi Nkondi, nail fetish figure from the Kongo people of West Africa. I wrote a research paper on these figures in college and love the power, strength and resolution that they represent, plus the dog likes to sniff it, I mean come on, it has bones stuck in it. A diviner, a traditional holy man, would meet with people seeking answers or retribution for some kind of wrong that had been done to them, like a theft or illness. The diviner then provokes the nkisi by hammering a nail into it and the infuriated nkisi then tracks down and punishes the evil doer. So watch out, I've got some nails and a hammer handy if you steal my car.
There is a lot of African art in this room, and some American art, a beautiful, vibrant abstract painting created by my friend Tara, a colorful geometric quilt that was a wedding gift from Joe's grandmother and a cool Japanese print that Joe's step-grandfather gave us. All these things, plus books and comfy pillows and some of my favorite quotes scattered about make this room comfy and relaxed and a place that I'm happy to sequester myself inside.
I've been in this room a lot lately. I have probably spent more time in this room this month alone than in the previous seven years that we've lived in this house. Nearly every night, and during the day on the weekends, I am locking myself away in my office and typing typing typing. Sometimes I like what I've written and sometimes I'm just grateful I have the time to do it and other times I hate every damn silent, lonely, self imposed moment of the writing process. Thankfully I'm working in this colorful, chaotic, visually chock-a-block room with distracting, inspiring junk. It's time to go lock myself back in the room now. I think I'm going to pretend that I'm sixteen again and I've gotten grounded for sneaking out. And I'm locked in until Mom thinks I've earned my freedom. Not that that ever happened. Never would have snuck out. Ok, maybe once. Sorry, Mom.
So tell me what's your office look like? More filing cabinets and organization, less teenage girl with weird vengeful nail figures? Can you work in clutter or are you like me and slightly crazy? Come on, you can tell me.