“Happiness is a very small desk and a very big wastebasket.” ~Robert Orben

When I was a kid, my mother gave me an old desk, likely from the 60s or 50s, that was meant for a small child.  I don’t know where she got it, but I loved it right away, even though it was very heavy and had to stay in one place, and the bottom drawer often stuck.  Still, I played my favorite game, School, almost every day at that desk, and pretended to write my first stories in the squiggly hieroglyphics of a four-year-old.

After my grandmother died, my father took his huge walnut desk out of storage and put it in her bedroom, effectively turning the room into his office.  He worked with computers before they were cool, so he put a massive monochromatic desktop in the middle of the desk, and a matching spinning chair with a bum wheel rounded out the look.  That is where I learned to type, in between playing Skullduggery and Wheel of Fortune.  I typed my first stories there.  The office was moved to the breakfast nook after Bernie came along, and dad’s big desk went back into storage again.

In high school until my early twenties, I had a beautiful one that my mother had refinished for me.  It was Wedgewood blue and had flowers painted on the surface.  It sat below my bedroom window, and I would perch at it late at night, thinking of stories and staring down into my neighbor’s kitchen (that was the view.  Sorry, Nancy.)  Usually it was also where I applied my makeup before going out, and once I almost set it on fire when Jaime and I tried to burn a photo of my future husband (obviously we did not know that at the time.)

When we moved to Lackawanna, Dad put his big desk (now with an updated computer, of course) in the sun parlor, and that sufficed, but it was when I moved in with Mark that I got my first taste of an office.  In our first apartment there was a tiny area adjacent to the boy’s bedroom.  On one side I put a small desk that my mother gave me.  On the other I put my childhood desk, for the kids to use.  The kids loved that little desk, playing with it just as much as I did.  In our home today, it sits in the girl’s closet, unused but still loved, because even though it’s too heavy to move they won’t let me put it upstairs in the attic.

My situation has improved exponentially.  Our apartment has a small room leading out to the upstairs porch, and it is the perfect size for an office.  I put a desk that Mark found in it, but that’s just a temporary piece until I find one I really love.  Atop it sits my computer, an old broken lamp that used to be my fathers, and a stack of bills and poems and plot outlines.  I have two big black bookshelves that hold my favorite tomes, and a dresser full of blankets and sweaters and all sorts of things one needs when writing at 2am in November.  Atop that sits a baby picture of my goddaughter, and an old globe I found at a garage sale. My walls are unadorned because they are covered in ivory and gold paper, some French looking flower pattern that reminds me of the short story The Yellow Wallpaper.    In the corner is a Rubbermaid container overflowing with playbills, letters, and trinkets I’ve saved throughout my life. My shelves hold an antique typewriter, broken but still beautiful.

From the sconce on the wall hangs a yellow wooden star reading “One Day at a Time.”  I’m not in AA, but that phrase gets me through most of my writing quandaries.  One day at a time, one thing at a time, one place at a time, one plot at a time…

I love my office.  Its probably my favorite part of our apartment, and certainly the reason we didn’t move downstairs when that unit became available earlier this year.  Even without an office though, all I really need is a desk. You can give me a pen and piece of paper (and I strongly suggest you do) and I will sit down on the ground and write with it, but nothing feels better to me than writing at a desk.


Steinhafels Harbor View Corner Computer Desk, AKA what I would but if I had an extra 400 bucks lying around.

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