Monday, October 6, 2008

Five desks

The kitchen table was grey formica, or something like formica, in what could be called a linen pattern, thin crosshatched lines. I did my schoolwork at this table after dinner, first grade through sixth. I remember the groove where the table halves joined — dark, mysteriously sticky, a local line of longitude.

The dining-room table was from Ethan Allen, a colonial-furniture store that gave away little bottles of maple syrup. I worked at this table through high school, college, and two years of graduate school. I seldom saw the surface, which was protected by table-pads and a tablecloth, dark green or dark blue.

Boards and cinderblocks saw me through almost five years in a Ph.D. program. The holes in the cinderblocks held stationery supplies, correspondence, and light-bulbs. When I think of this desk, I think of tea, cigarettes, and typing at all hours in a bathrobe.

[As you may by now suspect, I've never had a desk.]

A utility table, made in Alabama, purchased from an office warehouse. It's the sort of table at which you might find a volunteer group in a mall, but it's much sturdier, with a better finish and no valley. This table once held an Apple //c and now holds the terminal (anybody's) computer in our house.

A second kitchen table, but it's in a room we call "the study," perhaps the only study in the world with "We love Randy Rhoads" written on its ceiling (courtesy of the previous owners' son). Elaine assembled and finished this "farmhouse" table, which is as close to a farmhouse as I'm going to get. What this table makes me think of is not a farmhouse but a library, though unlike a library's tables, this table is always already covered in books, papers, index cards, pens, pencils, and bits of life.


Here’s a 2015 view of my desk.

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comments: 4

Geo-B said...

Mel Brooks has got you beat with "The Twelve Chairs."

Matthew Schmeer said...

Oh, I like this. I have my Honors Comp I students write non-linear essays of this nature (only longer, 3-5 pages worth of paragraphs and asides--what Toby Fulwiler calls "crots").

In the future, I will be pointing them towards this entry as an example. Of course, I'm also saving a local copy, in case the internet goes klabooey between now and next semester.

Geo-B said...

You'd love the essays of Eliot Weinberger, in for instance An Elemental Thing.

Michael Leddy said...

Matthew, thanks for commenting. You might like Joe Brainard's I Remember (each entry begins with those words). Not for classroom use without careful pruning!

George (hi George), I've read EW on poetry many times, but I've never seen his other essays. Thanks for the recommendation.