by Toni L.P. Kelner
In a few months--the contractor estimates four, and I estimate six--I'm going to do something I haven't done since moving into this house in 1982. I'm going to relocate my office.
You see, I've got two little girls who love toys and books, and a husband who writes and likes CDs and books, and I'm fond of books myself. Is anybody surprised that we've outgrown our house? So we're expanding it. We're blowing out a wall ten feet in order to convert a half bath to a full bath; create a mud room for the endless supply of boots, scarves, and hats that living in Massachusetts requires; and most important, turn a cramped three-season room that is our current library into an enormous open expanse to be used as an office for two writers and a library for thousands of books.
As the project gets underway, I've been looking around my current office and the stuff I've accumulated, piled, and gone into denial about the existence of. What will come with me? What will go into the trash? What will be stored in a toxic waste facility?
The desk, an old metal and wood-grain monstrosity that could survive a nuclear explosion, comes with me, of course. Ditto my Macintosh, the electronic accessories I need even if I don't know what they are, the banker's style lamp, the stacked paper trays warped from too much stacked paper, and the CD racks. Naturally I can't have the CD racks without the accessories: a killer bunny from Monty Python hanging from a shelf, a stuffed Pokemon, a parrot from a pirate costume, a happy face pirate hanging from his hook hand, several Neopets plushies, a plastic skeleton for reference and inspiration, and my painted bookworm Arty. Oh, and the CDs. On the desk itself, there's the usual mass of books and papers, plus my muse Poindexter the troll, a ceramic Snoopy at his typewriter, a Wild Thing, a furry platypus, a Sherlock Holmes action figure, and of course, a Jump-the-Shark Fonzie action figure.
I know what you're thinking. How could I possibly write without all that stuff surrounding me? It's all coming.
Okay, what about inside the desk. Surely I can get rid of some of that. Pens, paper clips, yellow stickies stapler, hole punch, calculator. Obviously I need to retain some of the eggs of Silly Putty are required, but do I need pink, hot pink, gold, silver, and glow-in-the-dark varieties?
I'm reading your mind again. Of course I need it all.
All right, what about the stuff on the walls? Cross-stitch Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer's Apprentice, signed Fredric Brown print, picture of my favorite D&D character from years past, numbered Edward Gorey print, picture of a baby dragon, metallic print of Shakespeare's house, framed piece of burlap for all my buttons and badges, and most proudly, my framed Agatha nomination certificate. The feng shui really demands those things.
All right, maybe I should concentrate on losing some of the other furniture: my husband's Steve's desk, three filing cabinets, and four bookcases. Only Steve needs his desk, we need the files, and nobody ever has enough bookcases. Wait! There in the corner! A stereo rack. Who needs that when there are iPods? That's two feet by two feet of floor space I've rescued.
I look around the room again, calculating how much wonderful free space we're going to have without that stereo rack. Then I look for the contractor's phone number, wondering if we could blow that wall out just a few more feet.