My Desk

I don’t have a desk and it’s starting to be a problem.

Granted, I don’t think that having one would make me all that more organized and on top of my work. I mean, the idea of having neatly color-coded files placed elegantly in a sturdy drawer rarely ever pans out beyond the picture in the Ikea catalog. And as much as I like to think that having a bulletin board with clever looking pushpins and a ribbon border would simplify my chaos of invitations, documents, and important appointments, I also know that I more than likely would never actually be able to FIND the cute pushpins when I needed to post something. Probably because they would be holding up the ribbon border that frayed and tore soon after I put it up.

So yeah. I don’t have such high expectations for my future workspace, but I definitely need to get one. Currently, I work wherever I can find a chair, my laptop perched precariously on my knees. Sometimes I score the dining room table – definitely better for my posture – or the living room couch. Most of the time though, I sit down to work and I am distracted by children, chores, responsibilities other than my pressing work, and life. Yes. Life distracts me.

There is something alarming in that. Camus would have a field day with it.

But my need for a desk goes beyond a place for storage and displays. Beyond a place to post reminders and stack bills. I need a desk because I need something that will be mine. My place. My drawers. My ratty bulletin board. My piles of paper that need sorting. Each time I look for a place to park my laptop and my bag, I am like a vagrant in my own home. I am constantly in someone’s way and can never just find that SPOT. The one that no one else can touch but me.

Stephen King once wrote about this huge mahogany desk that he was so proud of that he planted it in the center of a room.  And proceeded to never use it. He wound up moving it into a small corner and famously said:

“It starts with this: put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.”


In my case, I don’t even have a desk to move to a corner. My real estate consists of whatever chair is available. And art? It’s getting buried under my children’s homework assignments and my own workload that piles up each week.

I need a desk. Not to stick in the middle of a room or decorate like a Christmas tree, but to escape to. I need a desk and I need to claim it like Columbus. Stick a flag into the flat wooden surface and declare it the official space of yours truly. I made peace with the idea that I will not have a desk that looks like it could be featured in Pottery Barn, but whatever desk I get, it will solely be mine. Ripped ribbon and all. Splintered wooden legs. Piles of papers and mismatched folders.


I don’t have a desk, but I need one.



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4 replies

  1. You do not need a desk. You need a podium, but since that requires standing up, and as a teacher that is all you do some days, you want a desk.

    Now a desk comes in many flavors, sizes, you could build your own, like Jeff Bezos did out of work horses and a door or you can Ikea one, or you can fish through garage sales and craigslist to find something more Adinaesque. What you can not do is get a desk and expect words to fly, exams to get graded, papers to be filed, chocolate to be eaten, wine to stain it or whatever else life tosses at you to happen unless you want to do it at that place at that time.

    Make sure it has space for a typewriter. A laptop is only helpful to writers if you disable the wifi and unplug the Ethernet because SQUIRREL! happens way to often otherwise.

    Good luck in finding THE desk because only the one that reaches out to you and becomes one with the owner is worth it’s weight.

    I end with a paraphrase of familiarity that will not be lost on you. Chag Sameach!

    “Every single desk is unique and will depend for its character on the particular tree and magical creature from which it derives its materials. Moreover, each desk, from the moment it finds its ideal owner, will begin to learn from and teach its human partner.”

  2. How can I possibly say anything after Keith’s awesome reply?! Except A. I can’t believe you don’t have a desk, you really need to get one (laptop on the bed sometimes works, but it isn’t a desk). And 2. Your writing is awesome, you need to be published already.

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