Thursday, January 24, 2008

My Stomping Grounds

I've been in school for a long, long time. 34 years, to be exact. And in that time, I've come to realize that I simply can't do school work at a desk. I tried in high school to work at the beautiful desk in the study in my grandparents' house, where we lived, but I always ended up on the little couch, balancing my notebooks on my knees and my textbooks on the soft arm. In college, I tried the library carrels and my spacious dorm room desks, but always got my best work done in the smoking lounge, curled in a chair with conversation all around me, or sprawled on my bed. I even had my computer (a Mac Classic, which seems almost quaint now) on an old trunk so that I typed papers cross-legged on the floor in front of it. I really did accomplish more in these relaxed circumstances, even surrounded by noise and activity, than in silence and upright position. Somehow that always seemed like too much pressure. It helps that I have a preternatural ability to focus, to the exclusion of anything short of bombs going off around me. My mother tells me that she had this tendency too, and actually preferred to study and write papers in the noisiest, most crowded places on campus.

Now instead of feeling guilty about this, I embrace it under the Whatever Works (or should that be the Cookies Before Dinner) Principle. That's one of the nice things about being older--you can do things the way you want, as long as it doesn't hurt anyone. So now I have my laptop, and I work at the coffee table in front of the fireplace:

And if I need to gaze into space to marshal my thoughts, I can gaze at the Rabbi:

Or at the toy theater my sister made (I suggest once again clicking on this photo to see the details):

Or at a bookshelf (this one has some of my favorite books):

All in all, I like to have cheerful, civilian things around me when I work on my dissertation, otherwise I get to feeling gloomy and weird. The only thing better than the coffee table, though, would be across an oak trestle table from the Potions Master (I don't mind sitting upright for the sake of romance)...we'd be diligent, but every once in a while I'd look up and catch his eye...and he would raise a sardonic eyebrow at me and say "your field is mere ephemera, the basest of all the Muggle studies..."

Oops, didn't mean to get a little psychotic on ya there...


Too Little Time said...

Thanks for sharing =) K

CSI Seattle said...

Your need for a certain environment in order to obtain "flow" is a familiar one to me. Although, I don't necessarily like a busy work place, I do well with certain types of music in the background.

I have a reclining chair where I do most of my writing on my laptop (a Mac of course, and I am a former Classic owner myself).

When I am inspired to draw, I find the coffee table to be the perfect height. A cup of tea (yerba mate) and a roaring fireplace round out the creative cycle.

I hope you are well,


Anonymous said...

It is amazing how many sould of our age group can study and work this way. I have to have music on when I study and silence makes it impossible for me to concentrate on anything besides the silence. Thanks for sharing!