Recently, a reader asked me what my ‘ideal writing environment’ is. What an interesting question, little reader. I love interesting questions and I love people who ask them.
And so I started to write about my amazing desk.
We have a super cool vintage steel desk. I went through a drooly mid-century phase and decided our little birch desk was stupid and we needed something more INDUSTRIAL. I combed Craigslist for months and finally found this gorgeous guy:
We rented a freaking Uhaul simply to transport this behemoth the 5 miles from its previous home to our artist studio in Southie. I scraped all of my knuckles and pulled a groin muscle moving it in.
It’s impractical and heavy…but it looks so amazing, especially up against our interior exposed brick and beam wall.
But I don’t write at our desk.
I really should. Drew – design nerd that he is – has a perfectly ergonomic setup, with his oversized extra monitor and bluetooth keyboard/mouse. It is a beautiful desk and a beautiful setup and after all of the effort we went through, I really should write there.
But I prefer to write on the chaise lounge.
After two years of marriage, when we finally made enough money to purchase a couch (previously having used Drew’s grimy college futon and the Craftmatic hospital bed inherited from my Grammy’s dead boyfriend), we obsessed over the purchase. It needed to be small or disassembled enough to fit through our tiny door. It needed to be sturdy enough to host our collection of unnaturally tall friends. It needed to be of durable enough material to withstand the spills and dust of our weirdo factory apartment. And it needed to be cheap.
So, we obviously bought an Ikea couch.
The glorious perk of self-assembled furniture is that you get to customize to your hearts content. I love to customize. I love it so much. I love to force the world around me to bow to my slightest preference, simply because I can.
For example, there are few things I love more than putting my feet up while I watch TV. However, there are few things I hate more than putting my feet up on SOMETHING UNCOMFORTABLE while I watch TV. It lets all of the air out of an otherwise blissful experience. I hate coffeetables with sharp edges or wicker surfaces or odd heights. Barring an oversized ottoman or a LA Z Boy, I knew exactly what I needed from Ikea:
a chaise lounge.
Essentially, a small bed facing the television. Glory glory. I outlined the endless joys of the chaise lounge to Drew, convinced we should go with a double-chaise customization option. We could lounge while we eat, like in Bible times! But Drew insisted that he didn’t need one, was content to put his feet on the coffeetable and liked to eat his late-night cereal with his feet firmly on the ground.
I told him, with what I considered haunting finality,
“but that means the chaise lounge is MINE and you can never sit there. NEVER. I will adhere to this promise and not feel a drop of selfishness for doing so, BECAUSE I WARNED YOU.”
and so it is. I always sit there and unashamedly force him to SCOOT when he tries to sneak in.
And so, dear reader, if you really want to know my ideal writing environment, here is the honest truth:
1. LOCATION: I type – 2 feet from our gorgeous vintage desk with its ergonomically precise setup – with my laptop balanced on a pillow or balled up sweatshirt atop my outstretched legs. My chiropractor says that – aside from joining an Olympic luge team –it is the single worst thing I can do for my muscular/skeletal system and I tell her I can perfect my posture when I’m dead! Which of course makes no sense and perfect sense, all at the same time. So I write from the chaise lounge and strain my neck and slouchily crush my organs and suffer the draft, glare and noise from the nearby window and I could not be happier.
2. UNIFORM: If you come to my home some day and it looks as though I’m recovering from the norovirus, have no fear – I’m just writing. My standard writing ensemble consists of no pants, heavy socks, giant T-shirt, cozy sweater, swaddled down comforter. Of course, ever since Drew ever-so-gently suggested that my 2014 resolution be to “wear real clothes more often”, I wiggle out of the comforter at around 4:45 to put on some skinny jeans and a slap of lipstick. He’s a lucky man.
3. FUEL: My #1 motivation in life and most certainly in writing is food. Listen up, Clark – if you write until 2:37 without checking Snapchat, you get a mozzarella stick. If you finish this chapter in that time, you get 2. Here are my most motivational snacks, in order of importance. I hope they bring discipline and joy into your work as well:
-Freddie’s Cheese Dip. My mother in-law (that’d be Freddie) introduced me to this heaven during one fateful football Sunday. Trader Joe’s Chicken Serenada dinner chopped up and mixed with melted Pub Cheese. Eaten with tortilla chips and praised forever.
-Original Pinkberry with Granola and Strawberries. Um, yes I will pay $11 for a take-home. Fill her up, please and thank you.
-Chips and Guac. Isn’t Guacamole just the greatest invention? For a split second, I feel like a glutton, but then I remember that it is VEGETABLES AND VEGGIES ARE GOOD and I just.keep.eating. Think I need to revisit my definition of glutton? Ugh, just be cool, okay?
-Cucumbers and Carrots with Trader Joe’s Edamame Hummus.
-Apples with Peanut and/or Almond Butter
-Sweet Potato Sushi (on the nights where I tell Drew “I AM IN THE ZONE. YOU CAN MAKE US BOTH SOME CEREAL OR WALK DOWN FOR TAKEOUT…and he makes the obvious choice. )
4. AMBIANCE: I prefer to write in silence, but it often makes me feel lonely and weird, especially when I hear my cool photographer-neighbor’s music floating up from his office downstairs. So, I occasionally put on something obscure and instrumental – no words or recognizable melodies for my monkey-mind to swing from. Dustin O’Halloran? Caspian? Peer Gynt? Gimme, gimme.
5. TIME: I often do my best writing between the hours of 11pm-4am, since my mind has a mischevious way of waking up just as my body decides to sleep. This accounts for my trippy dreams but more often keeps me up just long enough to trap my ideas and then catch up on the Kardashians. I am strangely inspired by the wee morning hours- so quiet and peaceful, save for the shouts of drunk college kids stumbling home past my window. Ahh, city living.
And so here I slouch, tapping away as the rest of the world sleeps, wrapped in my down comforter and crunching on apple slices. Happy Wednesday (or Thursday, by the time I post this) everyone. Hope it’s as productive as my night has been.
Comments are open – I’m taking snack suggestions and empathetic stories about terrible posture.