January 9, 2006

Trading Space

Before we lived in this house and my office became "my office," it was essentially a dull but serviceable room. The rest of the house had the previous owner's very definate imprint all over it (Luckily she tended toward neutrals and the kind of taste I like to call "good") but there was an aesthetic, you know? The house looked lived in and loved. Not so much the office. My office was the roomly personification of Sara Plain and Tall. Painted white. No window treatments beyond miniblinds. Here it is with Beautiful Maisy Circa Barely Two standing in it. See how neat? How tidy? How regulation standard and workaday?


When we bought it, that changed. I moved into it. I brought with me Chaos, and Chaos instituted Piles, and Piles Grew into Slag Heaps, and Slag Heaps grew until they intermingled and entangled themselves with each other and became one huge Slough of Despond, and beneath the tattered surface of this nightmare, whole trash-book-importantpaper-mail-toy-shoe societies boiled within themselves and interbred and produced genetically mutated cousin-on-cousin-for-nineteen-generations type spawn and then cruel, inbred ecosystems emerged and and eventually (and if this doesn't signify the beginning of the end, I don't know what does...) a policitcal system was instituted and the old diet Cherry Coke cans (who, like most trash, naturally gravitate toward the filthy world of politics) taxed the living CRAP out of the innocent reams of blank paper.

I SO meant to take a picture of this Swamp of Sorrows phase, but I was prevented from staining your eyes with such graphic images by the same benevolent God who created Basic Human Decency, although admittedly He gave me a pauper's share of that commodity (left to myself, Beloveds, *I* would have shown you) but He substituted a faulty Digi-cam memory disc for my lack of discretion and taste. You should probably release some white doves and say thank you. I did find an old picture of my desk...Imagine a WHOLE ROOM like this, with a little path running from the door to the computer chair, where on a GOOD day you might see the glimmer of one desperately unhappy and oppressed carpet fiber:



Remember when we got all above our raisin' and bought ourselfs some for really true fancypants ART?

Well, I decided to redecorate the office to look like a place where this Picture would want to live. Look at the empty vastness of the landscape...I can't have my SPACE BLIMP CAT CAPTAIN peering out of the frame at the UN EMPTY UN VAST lanscape of my abbatoir of an office and then offing itself in despair.

SO, to this end, I released my inner Edmund Walker and got fabric samples and paint chips and made decisions, and this weekend, we took shovels and put on haznmat suits and cleaned the place OUT, down to the BONES. I am currently sitting in the center of a room with a table in it. The only thing on top of the table is my computer. After we got it stripped, we painted it a lovely color of FLAT PAINT (not semi-gloss! We used actual BIG GIRL FLAT PAINT on the theory that my little children won't be in here all the time runnign their grubulent paws all over the walls oh OH IT IS SO PRETTY FLAT PAINT IS! I had FORGOTTEN!) called Crocodile Tears, and today the table gets moved out and the carpet man comes. My mother is having a seamstress (LOVE! THIS! WORD!) Make me beautiful wondow treatments out of the fabrics I chose (MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ME) and buying me a sassy mod-poddy LAMP, and today someone comes to remove the oppressed carpet and put in fresh, virginal, hopeful carpet that smells young and dewy and of such quality that it probably believes it is being installed someplace NICE.

MY JUSTIFICATION FOR DOING IT: If my office looks beautiful, the space will foster creativity, be pleasing to the eye, and improve the quality of life of the many hours a week I spend in it. HA!

MY MOTHER THE IDEALIST'S THEORY: If the office looks beautiful, I might be inspired to not let the first room you see to your right as you enter my house look like crack-addled bears have been living in there in pungent squalor for years and years and years.

SCOTT THE PRAGMATIST'S THEORY: For one brief shining moment there will be Camelot. And I will take pictures of said office and show you, Oh My Best Beloveds, even borrowing a digi-cam if our disc issues do not resolve, and then, slowly, my basic nature will reassert itself and as people come in I will pull the doors gently closed and say, YEAH. I KNOW. BUT THERE'S A GORGEOUS OFFICE UNDER THAT....OR THERE USED TO BE. HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO SEE THE FLOOR OR INDEED, MOST OF THE WALLS OR FURNITURE FOR YEARS NOW.

The Beautiful Office will be like Schrodinger's Blasted Cat, who, if he is INDEED dead is HAUNTING me as I research this novel. That is to say, the office will be alive in theory, but also simultaneously theoretically dead, because who can prove it has not encountered radiation and perished beneath the impenetrable shield of my natural squalor. I bet, in six months time, if you dig under the pitted lunar landscape of my detritus, you will find opposing teams of Theoretical Physicists and Anthropologists living side by side in uneasy, bitter rivalry, squabbling over whose study takes precedence, one-upping each other, jockeying for position, and jealously comparing the size of their....grants.

AH WELL! I say all this to say, Scott is waiting to rip this table and my computer out for the carpet guys. I will have no internets ALL DAY...I'm slightly horrified.

Posted by joshilyn at January 9, 2006 6:24 AM

Good luck with the renovations. I had a teacher use the expression "Slough of Despond" to describe the revision process in personal essays -- It's the time when you're hopelessly trapped between a million brilliant ideass and you can no longer determine what exactly it is that you want to write about. Great expression. Where is it from?

Posted by: Michele at January 9, 2006 7:23 AM

There is a scary sharp implement of destruction on your desk, you see. Right near a child's cutesy pink cup and what appears to be teeny mini-versions of your oh-so-awesome book. Hmmm.

Posted by: Janet Mc at January 9, 2006 8:39 AM

I had to read this aloud to my Intrepid Spouse, who nodded sadly and familiarly and then *sighed* and said "I hope to buy that woman's husband a drink some day, if I ever manage to spelunk my way to the front door of our house again. But I am heartened to know, Bunny, that you are not the sole Lightning Rod For Entropy in the Universe. Alas, poor Scott..."

Posted by: Cornelia Read at January 9, 2006 8:56 AM

My entire house bears an startling and unfortunate resemblence to your desk photo, only without the plastic sword and roll of smarties. Sigh.

Posted by: DebR at January 9, 2006 9:35 AM

Oh, Tulip, that's not so bad! My whole house looks like that. Want to bring your shovel and hazmat suit out here and help me find my carpet? No? Hmmm. Can't imagine why. :)

Happy new beautiful office! Can't wait for the pics!

Posted by: Amy-GO at January 9, 2006 9:36 AM

Alas, I can truly sympathize, dear Joss (or Scott, as the case may be). I, too, am accumulatively inclined, though sadly there is no co-habitor to point out the error of my slovenly, would-be-starving-artistly ways. And so, here I sit, waiting for the day when mankind achieves practical space flight, at which point my entire place will likely be beamed up and launched into the sun. All those dust bunnies will make quite the solar flare, I should think. ;-)

Posted by: David at January 9, 2006 10:19 AM

Because I wasn't brought up well, I have to say, while I think you are wonderful, your daughter is pretty as a picture and your writing is fabulous, I do not like that picture you bought. I wouldn't hang it in my office. Luckily for you, my office is not in your house and you are free to do whatever you want.

However, if you are looking for an alternative to scary dragon/pirate ship/cat pictures, I would like to suggest framing an enlarged picture of your newly carpeted, newly painted and organized office to preserve it forever. If things get very very bad, you could even enlarge it to door size, fit it strategically into those lovely french doors and viola! Guests will never know! And you will never have to clean or organize again. I think I'm onto something. I'm going to clean all of my rooms for the last time! Never mind, I'll clip pictures out of decorator magazines. So much better! I think your scary dragon/pirate ship/cat picture has sparked an idea that will make me rich! I love that picture now!

Posted by: Em at January 9, 2006 10:22 AM

It must be the New Year Writer's Clean Desk Week. Over on Jenny Crusie's Argh Ink, she came to a crisis also:


then Susan Elizabeth Phillips accepted a double-dog-dare and posted her photo:

Y'all are going to be so productive there won't be any room for mental illness anywhere...hahahahahaha!

Posted by: Holly at January 9, 2006 10:51 AM

You know you're going to spawn a whole new epoch of office renovations. This will in turn around regional economic down swings. Spur new businesses to spring up overnight. The balance of the nation's economy is now about to turn around because of you. Because after the office...well folks there are entire houses to redo.

What's a matter with white and mini blinds?

Love the french doors.

Posted by: Cele at January 9, 2006 11:27 AM

In my vow to De-lurk this week I shall say hello. I love your blog and I read everyday.

I would say your office looks familiar but alas mine is worse than plain white - it is *gasp* panelled. Ick! I cleaned it a few weeks ago and already I can't find the desk top. *sigh*

Posted by: MoMMY at January 9, 2006 1:53 PM

I find it very impressive that you are able to take something like a messy office and make it interesting to read about.

Posted by: blueprincesa at January 9, 2006 3:33 PM

And that is why I am not even "allowed" to have a sewing room ... just a corner that can easily be covered by a Beautiful Throw (which is exactly what I do with it).

Good Luck living in your new surroundings, until the squalor creeps back in, that is!

Posted by: Patti at January 9, 2006 4:27 PM

It could be worse..... my hubby vows that if/when we have our kids my office will indeed become one of their bedrooms. I'm flabbergasted enough to ask why they can't all pile up in the other bedroom via a flashback to Little House on the Prairie. This, he believes, will not do at all and thus the "office" room and the guest room will become "kids bedrooms". Gargh.

Posted by: Tina at January 10, 2006 3:24 PM

You need a bookshelf, dude...

Posted by: Bookseller to the Stars at January 16, 2006 5:13 PM