I need to clean my office.
When Kim and I were looking for houses, we looked at a lot of houses. Houses, it seems, come in a great many varieties, most of them not very useful. There are houses with too many rooms, houses with too few rooms, and houses with things that the owners insist are rooms but which are actually closets without doors, though sometimes they are entire floors with only an opening at one end. These rooms or quasi-rooms are often decorated in styles that require serious whiskey to erase from one's mind, and it's not just the ones that are ugly that fit this bill, nor is it just the houses that have entire rooms decorated in the colors of the local sports teams (a garish green and yellow, here in Wisconsin, or a relentless cherry red and white). Sometimes those houses were decorated in what was clearly once a tasteful and expensive style that somehow went out of fashion decades earlier and never got revised. Nobody should have to live the nightmare of heavy gold brocade in the 21st century - there must be laws about that on the books, and if there aren't then the State Legislature needs to get off its collective fanny and start protecting the people of Wisconsin from themselves. Isn't that what legislatures do these days?
Out of all the houses we looked at, this one was the only one that struck me as a place I could call home. It seemed comfortable. It was in "move-in" condition. It had only one room that needed to be undecorated - the kitchen, which had dirty yellow flooring and neon orange counters.
And it had my office. This was the only house we looked at that had a room with built-in bookshelves across one entire wall, and I knew instantly that this was mine.
That was fourteen years, two children and one dissertation ago.
I have since lined most of the other three walls with bookshelves that are lined two-deep with books. There is a desk along one wall that is covered to a depth of 14" by paper, CDs and miscellaneous electronics - it's a good thing that the monitor on this new computer is so big, otherwise I would never see it poking up from the rubble. And I had to add a table behind me to hold other papers that I needed to work on immediately rather than store, although it too has turned into a storage unit. There's also an exercise thingamabob that I got some serious use out of in the summer of 2008 but which has been the subject of good intentions ever since.
On top of the fact that I am an inveterate pack rat, especially where paper is concerned - books, photographs, documents: the place is a firetrap of the first order - my office is also the place where homeless objects end up. All of the "stuff currents" in the house swirl their way into my office, where they eddy forever. When the closet in the adjoining mudroom was optimized out of existence, much of what it contained ended up bunking with me. When company comes and things that are good enough for us to look at while eating but not good enough for others to look at while eating get moved out of the dining room, in they come. Sometimes they make it back, sometimes they don't. It's cozy.
But there reaches a point where it starts to interfere with what needs to happen. Documents I need get lost. Books I want to read or refer to are hidden. Things that need to go back to other rooms burrow in and are granted tenure like civil servant holdovers from a previous administration.
And then it is time to clean.
Wish me luck. If I am not heard from in three days, send out a search party. Or just leave a pot of tea and some snacks by the door for me. One or the other.