I just cleaned out my desk.
It’s a ritual for me, about two or three times a year I’ll just do a clean sweep. I jettison any random scraps of paper, any old lists, and all my broken paper clips (I am rough on paper clips). Then I thoroughly dust and polish all the surfaces, and maybe burn a little incense to rid the space of the ghosts-of-projects-past.
Then I start fresh again.
This was a special occasion, because I didn’t just clean out my desk; I got rid of it. I replaced it with an old secretary desk that my mother just gave me. A secretary desk is similar to a rolltop desk, only the front covering is flat and rigid, not segmented and flexible.
I love it because it will take up significantly less space in my home office, and because it is old and charming, unlike the succession of sensible and cheap desks I have had over the years, usually purchased at some discount big box store.
I also love it because it has secret drawers.
I grew up in a very old house, which we inherited from my great aunt when she passed away. It was three doors down from the house my parents built when they got married, and which we eventually outgrew. We moved in to her house with all her furniture right where she had left it, right where I always remembered it being on all the afternoons I had stopped by for the standing offer of cookies that she provided in her warm, inviting kitchen.
She had a rolltop desk, and all its secret drawers were filled with Things of Great Importance, like wills, birth certificates, passports, and my great grandfather’s old signet ring.
I realized I wanted one of these desks when I realized that my sensible old desk didn’t have any drawers at all, never mind secret ones. It consisted of one long, flat expanse of desk, with a shelf or two placed semi-usefully over the back.
It was a desk made for one big, all-consuming project. It was hard to keep things straight on that desk, because I am a person of many small, mutually distracting and mutually reinforcing projects.
I need a lot of little cubby holes to tuck things into. I need a small flat space to fit my laptop. I need secret drawers so I can hide things on myself occasionally, and rediscover them later.
I need a desk with a little more romance to it than a veneer-top desk from Staples, because what I do is cool, and fun, and a little mysterious, and definitely not boring.
I felt it was time that my office furniture better reflect who I am and what I do.
How well does your workspace reflect your work, or what you would like your work to be?
What’s in your secret drawers?