Monday, August 9, 2010

At work in the Intermezzo

[Photograph by Michael Leddy. Click for a larger view.]

Mark Frauenfelder has asked Boing Boing readers to post photographs of their workspaces and “tips for keeping things organized.” Thus the above photograph, which I took with a cellphone in January 2010 to let my children know what I was up to. I was working in the Intermezzo, a café in the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Illinois in Urbana. While my wife Elaine rehearsed with an orchestra, I sat at a little table and got things done.

In addition to a napkin, a spoon, an empty sugar packet, and a cup of Tazo tea, this table holds George Chapman’s and Stanley Lombardo’s translations of the Iliad, George Steiner’s anthology Homer in English, Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, pages of notes, and a handout with the first lines of the Iliad in Greek. And three writing instruments (because there can never be too many writing instruments): a Staedtler mechanical pencil, a Uni-ball Signo gel pen, and a Lamy Safari fountain pen.

As for keeping things organized: my desk at home is in perpetual disorganization: a MacBook surrounded by slopes and planes of paper.¹ That’s one reason why I like working at a tiny table in the Intermezzo: it’s empty when I arrive. There is no there there, as Gertrude Stein said of Oakland, California, not until I open my backpack.

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Five desks
Five pens
Messy desk

¹ To clarify: I am organized; it’s my desk that’s not.

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