Space – the cluttered frontier

Figure everyone has been wondering how the desk is working. I don’t hide the fact that tidiness and organization are not my strengths. While I’m capable of starting at clean, my rate of deterioration is impressive.

Take the dirty Kleenex for instance. How long has that been there? I hold to the theory that snot dries and disappears, leaving the tissue reusable – a theory that has served me well in a pinch when one of the kids spills something or sneezes unexpectedly. But why does this crumpled specimen need to be on the desk when there are perfectly clean ones in a box?

Why am I willing to expose my disorderly self? One inspiration was my friend Lola, who posted a picture of her “spoffice”  as the public kick-in-the-ass she needed to clean it up. Not to spoil the story, well worth reading, but it didn’t work.

Also, sometimes things are so disorganized you have to throw up your arms and embrace it.

A few years ago I was baking shortbread in preparation for the Xmas I don’t celebrate. Norbert, one of my kids’ dads, dropped by. I hate to stereotype, but Nor is one of those fastidious, designer magazine-type gay men whose house, even when it’s messy, still looks like my fantasy of perfection.  That the kids live there a chunk of the time, and compare it to my place, is an ongoing challenge. At 3½ my son Noah announced at a public gathering that, unlike Daddy and Papa’s place, mine was “full of crap.” Ouch.

When Norbert rang the bell I was crying and laughing. I could have kept him at the front door, but the sight that was my kitchen begged to be witnessed. Somehow, in the chaos, I hadn’t noticed the baggie that slipped into the food processor, joining forces with the chocolate, candied ginger and pecan batter. I’m embarrassed to say that when he arrived I was trying to salvage it by picking out the plastic.

The kitchen he stepped into was an explosion of eggshells, butter, batter, flour, dirty bowls, shredded plastic, phones, toys and paper. Not even the best forensic scientist could have reconstructed my path. Norbert didn’t laugh with the gusto I’d hoped for. I wondered whether he considered it cause enough to restructure our parenting agreement.

So back to my writing space which, by comparison, is pristine.

To the left of my keyboard is the eyeglass case I mistake for the phone but don’t bother to move. Then there’s the shopping list from who knows when, two day-timers, hand cream, nail file, whiteout, a fake penny, a real penny, chopsticks, 17 hair ties, the free bottle of perfume that remains despite my scent intolerance, papers, a spoon, a glass, a mug, scotch tape (to fix the laptop if need be?), a highlighter, four notebooks, a tennis elbow brace I keep forgetting to use, the metal curlicue that broke off the curtain rod months ago, and, the winner in the longest-kept, most-useless category, a plastic key to the hotel room from a trip to Blue Mountain last winter.

So does all this detritus serve as inspiration, or is it a barrier to productivity? Who cares. I don’t want to know. It’s me. The writing is going pretty well. I’m doing it regularly, here at this desk. The day will come, as it has before, when I can’t find something really important, or the mess breaks my spirit and I freak out, clean it all away, and start the collection again. 




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