Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Office Politics

I've made the huge decision to paint my office! This has been 14 years without paint and the white is going and I think it's going to be icy blue.

I'm fascinated by writers workspaces. Are their office neat, messy? Do they have talismans? My office is on the top floor and used to look out on the World Trade Center towers. I've got about 75 snowdomes on a file cabinet, a huge bulletin board stuffed with picture, books everywhere on every surface. Most of the books have post-its so I can tell what their pub date is and when I need to read them for review. There's a clock whose face is a Halloween shot of Jeff, Max and I in costume, which doesn't work (I love it, and refuse to take it down), A Malibu Barbie with a broken leg, and various plastic purses from the 50s that my mother-in-law gave me. are wedged into one of my two big bookshelves. I have an old rocker that I bought and love, a couch I nap on when I'm overwhelmed, an eliptical trainer so I can stay skinny and two of my favorite things. One is a picture Max drew when he was in kindergarten that says, "That's Mommy! She's telling me a secret! It's a surprise! I can't tell you!" And one is a photograph of me when I was six, sitting on the stoop with my mother on my way to camp. I have bangs and a little ponytail and I don't look happy (I hated camp) and the caption, in my six-year-old squiggle says, "Here I am (caroline) raddy to go to camp with Mommy."

So what does your workspace look like? Are you neat? Messy like me? If anyone sends in photos, I will post them. (Of course now I risk embarrassment because if no one sends anything in, it means no one is reading this post!) Oh well, what's a little risk? I'll show you mine if you show me yours.


gina said...

My husband jokes that my office will always be the nicest room in our home. It's true. I take the best room for my self, and as we are in a one bedroom, it is the living room, or according to Feng Shui, the creativity center of our home. The colors of the walls are "Tibetan Jasmine," (soft white) and the room is a mixture, of golds, reds, tans, deep browns with the occasional splashes of bright blue in glass vases, paintings, and lamps.It is very pretty. I moved from my white desk in the kitchen, where I had posted on a white magnet board, pictures of friends and family and postcards of bright pink flowers and black and white portraits, and gave it to Jeff. But we both have the same view, out the windows that run the length of the apartment.
We overlook a beautiful courtyard with Palm Trees, and lush greens, and a very busy bird path. I write at a dining room table that we refinished ourselves, surrounded by our most lovely things that we took with us when we moved from a house, to a condo, and then to L.A. in this gorgeous Art Deco, Spanish building. I have my talismans, a momiji (Japanese wood doll named Lucky, with a secret message in her bum! a Happy b-day note from my sister in law)a patterned china rabbit, and cards and pictures from my family, are nearby.
I write on a Mac, and my chair was a b-day present a magnificent Aeron, the only real modern piece in my living room, and there are always stargazer lilies in a bud vase on my desk, as well as coffee and water and lip balm.
My luckiest talisman, either sits on my lap, or just behind me on her own perch looking out the window. Her name is Mabel, and she is the sweetest 14 lb Bichon Frise there is.

Caroline said...

Oh Gina, your office sounds wonderful! I also used to have an animal in the office, an 8 pound 9" tortoise named Minnie who was with me for twenty years. I loved hearing him clicking his jaw or rustling in the newspapers by his hollowed out log. An office has got to be a healing environment. I'm really excited about the painting because it means I get to take everything apart and put it back together again in some kind of new chaos!

Leora Skolkin-Smith said...

Ok my workroom is this: A VCR clicker remote on top of an old translation of Proust's "Remembrance of Things Past. So I can suddenly and abruptly turn on the tv and watch "In Treatment" or "Law and Order" between passages of Marcel, (and I also LOVE other writers like Violette Leduc, Anne Quin, those sorely neglected by contemporary commercial concerns) My study is a place filled with the confusing boundaries between entertainment and art which I bask in, perplexed but fortified by my belief that
I am not alone in this confusion and reading Proust depiction of the "Aristocratic salons of Paris" parellels my discomfort at "literari gatherings" and it was more likely that no one then (around 1900 in Paris) knew what was going on either. So my study loves, embraces this question. Sartre's "Troubled Sleep" on the same shelf as a schedule of the latest B movies, Natalie Portman playing Ann Boylen. Our VCR, VDO whatever--- between today's celebrity culture and Marcel and seriousness. I can watch the ever entertaining presidential primaries, too which serve to increase the confusion between entertainment, the Roman
Forum of human events and gossip, and great "literature". Maybe I'm just a mess of contradictions, wanting to integrate society's neatest piles of culture and/or our love of glitz, and valueless vampire movies. But I write in this atmosphere. It makes me feel like my parents didn't get a divorce after all their bickering. One can be "of the people, for the people" at the same time one can not make impressive book sale numbers and still read great Proust, and one can still exist not as enemy--as most "intellectuals" are perceived but as a member of the swelling population of boundary-questioning others.

What great place to write. I add my husband's messy stack of medical journals, my cats' playthings, many obsolete record albums and I'm in heaven. It's like I accept at last the ambiguity of what is truly important and worth writing about, I'm a good existentialist. I make choices. Indeed, the boundaries between popular entertainment and my beloved past of great writers needn't be so at odds. In my study, there are forever bridged and wedded and I'm their happy child.

Did I mention also we have put up pictures from our travels to France? Nice, Flanders, and then our travels to
Latin America? Panama, rainforests and the most elegant of museums.

Clea Simon said...

I'm so glad you're painting your room. Mine is purple. Yup, purple! It feels exciting and vibrant, but it is probably womblike and comforting, too, and I have a ton of stuff on the walls - a photo from New Orleans, a painting by a friend (Cynthia von Buhler), posters, NYer covers. Used to have a printout of Yeats' "Adam's Curse" ("a line will take us hours maybe/but if it seems more than a moment's thought/our stitching and unstitching is for naught") but that seems to have disappeared. Photos of my dead grandparents... you name it. It's definitely my space!

Caroline said...

Oh purple! I am dying to see yoru office Clea, and yours, too Leora. (hint, hint, invite me!) I think working space is really so important. Everywhere I look, something brings me pleasure.