Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Karen Gets a New Workspace!

It all started when Mr. Lucky came home from work after midnight, and woke me up with his exuberant ravings about a desk—a computer work center, to be exact—that he found on the side of the road and brought home to join our happy little family unit.

You'd think he'd found a pot of gold.

This is a habit of his that goes back many years, to when he was an impoverished bachelor who relied on the roadside dumps of other people’s unwanted possessions to furnish his pad. When we decided to wed back in 1987, I brought to our marriage money and refinement, while he came with an elaborate stereo system that cost him several months’ pay, and a second-hand sofa he’d rescued from certain abandonment on the side of a desolate highway.

He knew, with the unerring instinct of one who has spent a lifetime scavenging among other people’s junk, that if he waited until daylight to go back for the computer work center, it would be gone. Indeed, as he loaded it into the back of our minivan at the ghastly hour of midnight, someone popped out of their house down the street with the air of one not looking to see what was going on, but with the intention of grabbing the CWC for themselves. I didn’t ask how he could tell the difference, fearing it might have something to do with the absence vs presentation of a shotgun—or maybe it’s just another instinct peculiar to scavengers.

Mr. Lucky initially thought of letting me have the CWC, as I don’t really have a desk anymore, since he bought me a laptop for Christmas 2005. I really do use it on my lap, usually while sitting in a small leather recliner in my office. The downside is I lack the efficient, disciplined workspace I used to have when using a desktop—when I had a solid flat surface for a notepad, reference books, and the all important, most sacred vessel for my coffee. Sometimes I wonder if this hasn’t had an adverse effect on my recent productivity, or lack of it. I’ve been using rickety folding tray tables, and allowing clutter to pile all around the leather recliner till it now looks as if I’m sitting in a giant bird’s nest.

I agreed with him that an upgrade to my work area might be an excellent idea, before I stood up from that recliner one day to find an egg or two on the seat.

Alas, the CWC was immediately a serious contender for the title of “Biggest and Most Unwieldy Piece of Furniture in the House.” As a corner unit, there was no way it would fit in my office unless we shuffled at least a few of the five fully loaded bookcases in that room.

No. Fricking. Way. Maybe for a million dollars, but until the check clears, no—way! Only two other things could induce me to move those books again: An Act of God, or an Act of Baby Bear.

Mr. Lucky proposed taking it for himself, and letting me have the simple writing table (48” x 30”) that he’s been using for his desktop as well as his own laptop, which is for his business. This was more than agreeable to me, as we could make it fit in my office without disturbing so much as a single bookcase.

We decided to put it under the window, in place of a pair of old, two-drawer nightstands I’d been using as file cabinets (i.e., pack rat storage) since we bought new furniture for the master bedroom. This was a great opportunity to throw out junk which, seriously, I hadn’t looked at since putting it in the drawers. It was a lot of work, but it beat moving books and bookcases.

Most frightening were the manuscripts of books written before True Pretenses—and the earliest drafts of the latter, boasting the header, “Untitled Regency WIP.” It was like looking at my sixth grade school pictures--ewww! No, I didn’t throw them out (like I did with the sixth grade school pictures), but transferred them to one of those heavy duty plastic storage bins.

Meanwhile, Mr. Lucky spent most of yesterday kicking up a lot of dust and rearranging his own office to make his newly acquired CWC fit. I don’t know how he did it, but he made it work, and we had everything in place by the time Baby Bear came home from school.

I now have a desk, with space for my children’s photos and even the recently acquired boom box.

We’re only missing one thing now: A suitable chair! I can’t very well use the leather recliner; I need a real desk chair.

“Don’t worry, we’ll get you one,” Mr. Lucky reassured me. “Next time I go out, I’ll keep my eyes peeled for any desk chairs abandoned at the side of the road.”


JulieLeto said...

Karen, I'm on the look out for a new chair myself. But as I've decided that a chair is the single most important item in a writer's room in terms of ergonomic health, I think I'll shop at a store. :-)

You might want to, as well. Sit For Less online has their own brand that is WAY cheaper than the name brands they carry. Somehow, I can't see myself spending $800 for a chair I ordered online and couldn't even sit in first. (Not that that would make any difference...$800 for a chair is a bit, um, out of my price range.)

I know there's some store around called The Back Store or something...I need to find a location and then wait for a sale!

Phyllis J. Towzey said...

I got my daughter a really nice, high back leather desk chair with arm rests and on wheels on sale for $99 at Office Depot! It's worked out great, and I don't see a difference between that and the much pricier chair I invested in for my office some years ago.

Karen Lingefelt said...

I couldn't agree more about the importance of the chair (so don't think I'll accept just any old piece of junk he might find)! In fact, I think a lot of my current problems with back and knees comes from improper sitting while using the laptop, trying to keep it at a level that makes it easy for me to type.

That, and middle age.

Phyllis J. Towzey said...

It really is important, Karen. Some years ago I actually injured my back TYPING! I was at my desk working under deadline for about 12 hours straight, and the next day I woke up in intense pain. I had to get an MRI, which showed a real injury, I was on serious pain medication and had to go to physical therapy for 2 months, with various treatments including being in traction. From typing. Afterwards I had to use a standing desk for a period of time, and am still supposed to limit how long I sit, and avoid high heels (so not going to happen). Anyway, be forwarned. Prolonged typing and sitting can be dangerous to your health.

Karen Lingefelt said...

Yikes, Phyllis! It's a wonder I'm still willing to put this laptop on my lap and continue typing.

I remember when I took typing class in high school, the teacher made a speech about the correct way to sit while typing. At the time I thought that seemed awfully silly and nitpicky, but I guess the old girl had a point.