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Shelfie: An Ongoing Exploration of Workspaces

Years ago I picked up a desk at a university surplus sale, a heavy oak monstrosity whose surface I promptly ruined by painting it with multicolor stripes. I wanted it to look like a Markus Linnenbrink painting.

Here is the desk I’m at today, or anyway some days. I think of it as minimalist, but now that I’ve snapped a picture, I see that the bulletin board is cluttered with novel-related notes. And all the best books are hiding behind the white sliding doors of the cupboard.

I must be a forgetful person because a lot of what’s here is a reminder.

The vintage beach sign (“DO NOT TALK TO LIFEGUARD”) reminds me not to engage with certain voices. (The usual head-bound crew of jerks, the ones who say, “That’s terrible; that’s stupid; you’re too slow.”) My daughter’s drawing—how to create a sea horse in 6 steps—reminds me that even a large task can be broken down. And the Hermes 3000 typewriter reminds me to get off the Internet and to let my writing make a sound.

I’ve also included a close-up of my Mastercrafters clock. The little world lights up; the clock ticks; the girl on the swing moves! Of course, sometimes the ticking drives me crazy. Then I unplug her or leave the room and move to the couch. Truth be told, there are many days I prefer not to work in an upright position.

SARA LEVINE lives in Chicago. She has a BA in English from Northwestern University and a PhD in English and American Literature from Brown University. She has taught in the MFA in Nonfiction Writing program at the University of Iowa and is now a professor in the Writing Program at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

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