My Work Space
“…the room where the walls come together…”
- E..A. Poe, The Pit and the Pendulum
No matter how management attempts to aggrandize their decision to relocate a hardworking, dedicated employee (moi) from 3 long years in a strangulating cubicle; to a 3-month tease in a vast open space; and back again to a strangulating cubicle, the end result is exactly as Bela Lugosi described it, above, in The Raven.
Torture. Delicious torture.
In a Q&A appearing in the Business Section of the Times today, Paula Antonelli, Sr. Curator at MOMA, is asked about her office. Her response is the best description about life inside a cubicle I have encountered, outside of Poe’s and Lugosi’s.
This is what she says:
“I have my own office, and I am lucky to have it. It is better to have privacy, but if I were to choose between a cubicle and completely open space, I would choose open space.
The illusion of privacy is worse than no privacy. It bothers you; [whereas] a conversation between two people wouldn’t bother you at all.”
This is the 21st Century. You would never know it the majority of offices. Only in New York? Even in New York.
Where have all the employees gone?
Gone to cubicles, everyone.
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?
I hadn’t picked you up in such a long while, No. 8. Why? I don’t know. Too many days elapsed between quality time at the easel? Probably.
Today, you saved my sanity, Bristle Brush. How could I have overlooked you for so long? It won’t happen again.
Weeks of working on this painting; never finishing; never satisfied; always needing more. But what?
The number 8 Bristle Brush!
THANKS, MERCI, DANKE, GRACIAS, also, to:
Wolfgang, Ludwig and Franz; Thelonius; Sinead; JAY Z & Kanye; Led Zeppelin; Black Sheep; Benny Goodman; the Klezmatics; Beausoleil; Steve Earle; Sister C’s fabulous C&W mix; and JC — for the music that enriches my life and nourishes my work; and for giving me the best day — a true gift — I’ve had in a while.
I don’t even mind that tomorrow is Monday.
WHAT DID THE BUDDHIST MONK SAY TO THE HOT DOG VENDOR?
THE VENDOR PREPARES THE HOTDOG AND HANDS IT TO THE MONK. THE MONK GIVES HIM A TWENTY.
THE VENDOR POCKETS THE MONEY AND TURNS TO HELP THE NEXT CUSTOMER.
My favorite picture of us, my sister and me, taken at the wedding of my oldest younger brother.
As you may notice on the sidebar of this blog page, I recently reactivated my twitter account. Twitter is a good place to post great sentences discovered inside the many, many books I’ve read.
But not everything fits in 140 or fewer characters-limit of Twitter.
So here is a very funny, longer passage I discovered a couple of years ago in Nathan Englander’s short story collection,”What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank.” It is taken from a story titled, “Camp Sundown.” (Camp Sundown being an “elder hostel”)
“I don’t know why they call his book ‘Les Miserables’,” she says, leaning into the circle, as if sharing a secret. “As you will discover, this book is not less miserable. It is more miserable than you can imagine.”
This laugh is for you, Connie.
BOICEVILLE, NEW YORK
Earlier this month, on an extended weekend away in Tompkins County, we drove by a cluster of brightly painted cottages nestled in this make believe setting. The brilliant hues seemed more at home in the Caribbean than upstate New York. Someone less jaded than I, at first glance, might think: how charming, how cute.
My initial reaction was CULT. Or extremist Mormons.
I googled Boiceville, NY to find out what this settlement was all about. The results yielded the following information:
Inspired by the Barbara Cooney illustrations in “Miss Rumphius,” a children’s book he read to his daughters, Bruno Schickel designed and built Boiceville Cottages beginning in 1996. Bruno utilized his experience with Schickel Construction, a company he founded in 1985 and continues to run, to design an interior that was complementary to the charming illustrations of seaside cottages that inspired the exterior shape of the Boiceville Cottages.
Okay, it’s a little scary to re-imagine real life as a storybook…
I must confess, the amenities offered by this too-close-for-comfort housing set up are envy-inducing.
The cottages are furnished with a washer/dryer (what I wouldn’t give to have my own washing machine again); fridge; stove; even a dishwasher for goodness sake — not to mention a 5′ x 10′ garden box to plant your own organic vegetables.
And if you attend Cornell, the university is 15 minutes away. However, there is no partying in Boiceville, where even pets are well behaved. Boiceville is life in the Quiet Car.
By the way, rental rates are not listed on their website. So it may be a case of if you need to ask, you can’t afford it.
Yet the other amenities: no fire truck horns blaring at the traffic light (no traffic lights!), no ambulance sirens (no hospitals nearby!), no mega bus engines (no subway stations to commute to!), no thumping car stereos to disturb your sleep…are also very attractive.
My present state of mind could be described as one of longing. Longing for the peace and quiet of Rosebarb Farm, where we stayed in Caroline, NY, earlier this month, about a 10 minute drive from the mythical Boiceville.
Wouldn’t I love to be sitting in the gazebo at the farm right now…listening to bird songs and sonorous ringing of wind chimes…horses whinnying in the barn…drone of spring peepers (teeny little frogs) from the fields…
View from the gazebo
…and later on take a drive up to Trumansburg for NYC pizza…
…and chill out.
Ahhh. Next October…
Every Sunday in the Metropolitan section of The New York Times, a column appears called “Sunday Routine.”
In the column, the day-of-rest activities of a well-heeled artist or celebrity de jour - which are unfailingly steeped in joie de vivre, presented hipper than thou, and sounding suspiciously fabricated – appear as succinctly texted selfies (sort of type-set, look-at-me-I’m-special paragraphs) positioned beneath subheads and choreographed to the brand the subject wishes to convey.
I don’t know why I read these columns week after week. Wishful thinking? Morbid curiosity? Combing for clues on how I can convert my Sundays into days of leisure?
Probably all of the above.
So to have some fun, I borrowed the subheads and one-liners from today’s “Sunday Routine” column (bolded below); and added on responses of my own.
BTW, the “Subject” of this week’s column is a TV actor.
“Sunday is the most domestic day of the week. Sunday is the day when I feel the least pressure to get anything done.”
Hello Clouds. Sunday is the day when I feel the most pressure to get everything done. On Sunday, the last thing I want to think about is housework.
“I make kind of a heavy, farmer’s protein breakfast…lately she’s making these green smoothies.”
At 6:30 am., very significant other makes a quick trip into the frigid outdoors to buy the paper. He returns with two sugary cinnamon rolls from Starbuck’s. Bless him.
“Then we take care of the paperwork, or I should say the electronic work….I’ll get my laptop out and try to get a handle on the week to come.”
Very significant other leaves for work. I read parts of the newspaper — or I should say The New York Times — then I’ll get out the tarot cards and try to get a handle on my future.
“Around noon, we’re still in our jammies, and that seems wrong somehow.”
Around noon, I’m still wearing my “house clothes,” but I’m standing before the easel, and that seems totally RIGHT somehow.
“I dress more formally than the other boys do. I will generally wear a tie and a vest. Not necessarily a jacket.”
Around 5:00 P.M., I’m a Woman About Town, walking down the avenue, picking up fixings for dinner. I dress, shall we say, more warmly than the other girls do. I will generally avoid eye contact — which is not necessarily unfriendly. Just street smart.
“I get recognized. It happens regularly.”
If I see someone I recognize, I dodge into a doorway. This happens regularly. Time is of the essence when hardly any of your time is free.
“My default mode is to wander. I went recently to see a show of Czechoslovakian pop-up books.”
My default mode is to get the hell out of Foodtown as fast as possible and return home. However, I went recently to the Polish deli to see their selection of perogies.
“We’ll watch some TV event. It could be a show that either [my wife] or I have a role in that everyone hasn’t already seen.”
Now that we have binged out on every single episode of House of Cards, we have come late to the party for Six Feet Under (and loving it). Also, possibly my favorite show ever, Portlandia, is back for a new season.
“I still get the old, childhood Sunday night feeling. The end of playtime and the beginning of responsibility comes over you. The Sunday night blues. I’ll take a Benadryl maybe. A Benadryl and a dull book.”
Okay, I completely agree with him on the Sunday Blues — except for the Benadryl and dull book part. If I need something dull to help me fall asleep this Sunday night, I’ll turn on the Oscars. Guaranteed instant snooze.