So this weekend I thought I’d tackle the very exciting task of sorting out my home office (aka the junkyard that is my desk area). This was partly because we had nothing better to do and partly because I was under the impression that someone was coming to visit. (It turns out the visitor is next week, so I have a whole ‘nother weekend to get cracking on tidying the place!) Anyway, when I posted this picture elsewhere people were surprised that it was my desk, as apparently it doesn’t look like the type of desk/office they’d envisioned for me… and it got me to thinking about what my office area says about me.
I grew up in a household that was almost maniacally tidy. We joke that my mum has OCD but I think she actually does. On the plus side this means that it’s always a very calming thing to visit Home-home (as I call it, as opposed to home, where I live) as it’s always almost medically clean and tidy. Like I’m pretty sure that you could perform an operation right on my mother’s kitchen floor and come away healthier than in a hospital. (There’s a thought: IVF treatment in my mum’s kitchen!)
Anyway, let’s just say I didn’t inherit the Clean & Tidy gene. Perhaps it’s because I was adopted or something but I just don’t have it in me, despite my mum’s best efforts. I have a sort of untidy all-over-the-place mind and my physical environment reflects that. Organised chaos, I’d call it. Like, I know where stuff is, but a stranger looking at it might think that it was a hoarding situation.
If you’re in the UK you may recall an ad for Yellow Pages (like google before google, haha) where a guy has a girl round and she’s like “OMG you’ve been burgled” because his place is so messy. He then uses the Yellow Pages to look up cleaners. Well, that’s what my environment sometimes looks like. Tbh I can’t really ever see myself living in a sterile super-organised environment because I’m just not like that, but I do get a certain satisfaction now and again from doing a one-off spring clean clearout. Weirdly I’m also not very attached to possessions or material things. I think I just don’t often get around to sorting through stuff.
So, for your viewing pleasure, here’s my desk-office area, post clearout. That’s right, post clearout. There’s still a bunch of stuff there! Can you imagine what it looked like before?! I thought you’d like to see it anyway, as it sort of gives an insight into stuff I like and do in my spare time. For the record, it’s nothing like my desk at work. My desk at work is still pushing the boundaries of the “clear desk policy” and has a bunch of publications and bits of paper and things on it, but it’s nowhere near as cluttered as this one. You can see it as a sort of Where’s Wally (Waldo in US!) situation where I’ll talk you through the history and significance of things that aren’t very historical or significant, except for to me. 🙂
Top Dog sign – This is a joke sign as I’m pretending that I work for my dog, and it’s his office. I sign off things with the signature “From the office of [MyDog]”. It’s a bit silly but I find it funny. Also there is a part of a dog fence in front of the desk, which is to stop Dog from crawling through and jumping on the chair and from there creating havoc in my space. He still does, but it puts him off a tiny bit.
The desk – You can’t really see it under all the
rubbish interesting items but it’s a cream coloured desk in a “shabby chic” style (ie paint wearing off!). It has a green leather(ish?) inlay and the whole thing is obviously someone’s craft project. The other side with all the drawers has sort of vintagey metal handles on it. It probably wouldn’t really be my taste but I got it free when someone was doing a studio clearout. It’s also quite convenient as the top bit rests on the two sides which are like mini chests of drawers so it was easy to carry upstairs to our apartment. Also worth noting that our place is entirely open plan so that’s why I sort of have to colonise a corner of it. Anyway, I like furniture that isn’t pristine and tells a story. (Not sure what story this is just yet!)
In tray – I like to think I’m sort of organised when I’m really not. I just dump things in there and then forget about them. There’s a whole filing cabinet that’s now taken up residence under T’s desk, which probably needs sorting through. I have another version of this tray in one of the drawers and it has all the medical and IVF stuff in there (and the Moleskine pregnancy diary I sadly never got to use… Hopefully one day). At the moment it has a load of bills, a magazine (Marie Claire, which I rarely read but had an article on internet dating I wanted to give to a few friends who want to try it) and on top of the pile is a sketch book of postcards which I’ve drawn one picture in. I used to be really into art as a kid and then stopped, and I have been trying (cautiously) again. The picture I did was of Dog, obviously! And there are some drawing pens there too. I don’t like pencils much; I’m not sure why.
The chair – The chair which you can’t really see is a standard IKEA cheapy, mainly because I don’t like spending money on furniture. Almost all of our furniture is really cheap and/or second hand. It goes with the place! Very industrial/vintage. Anyway I have a bad back and so I have this chair massager which I occasionally remember to use. It’s really good. I got it cheap on sale at a horribly named shop (MenKind or something like that which apparently only has stuff for men but it gave me a sense of satisfaction to buy something, not being a bloke). It is a shiatsu type massager and it even warms up if you want it to. I like a hard massage so this is the next best thing. Makes a bit of a racket though!
Picture framed quote – The picture framed quote we got from Chelsea market in NYC a couple of years ago. We love NYC and the USA in general and it was a great trip. It’s my favourite quote possibly: “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay… It’s not the end.” Also, Dog took a bite out of the corner of the frame. I think this makes it look comical. As I mentioned… I’m not that bothered about material things and so have managed to stop myself being really upset when things get broken. I think it adds to the charm, plus I think I would forgive Dog almost anything. (The one thing I know I’d have difficulty with is if he ate one of my stuffed toys from my childhood… So they are up out of the way on a very high shelf in the wardrobe.)
Calligraphy book, pen and ink and practice sheets – I have these random ideas to try new things and semi-creative endeavours. I’ve always wanted (or not always, often) to learn how to do modern calligraphy – the type you get on wedding invitations nowadays. I could do the old fashioned type when I was younger. I went on a course a few weeks ago and learned how to do it – I’m currently terrible at it but practising hard! And I have a book to give me ideas. I tend just to look at reference books and then do my own thing! In modern calligraphy you have to let go and not have everything really neat and uniform, which I find hard as in old style you had to make every instance of each letter the same. I’m improving hopefully.
Wall of stuff – This is my “office wall” even though it’s in an open plan space. I’ve stuck up a load of things for decoration, photos of stuff, baby announcements (agh) and baby thank you cards (agh) and random things I like, or cards from people, or reminders of places to shop or eat at. It is a bit of a mishmash really but I like it. It reminds me of nice things, like birthdays or people or shops I like. One is a meringue shop in France which we’ve been to each year on the way back from our annual Christmas Disney trip. It has queues outside and you can see them making the treats, which are called merveilleux. If you ever get to go to Lille, you should go there: Aux Merveilleux de Fred.
Giant pug of love and pug tea towel and knitted pug and pug hat, etc… – Let’s just say I like pugs. This giant pug we got on our second valentine’s day and he just sort of sits there and gets silly head dresses put on him. The pug tea towel was a gift but I tend not to use all tea towels I receive, either because I like them too much to use them or because we have a lot of tea towels. I might eventually use that one. It says Pugs not Drugs. Also the London picture on the wall is a tea towel with all of the London landmark buildings on – I really liked it (also a gift) so stuck it on the wall. The knitted pug was in response to a Facebook request for someone to knit me a pug. I got the pattern but I can’t knit, so my friend’s mum knitted it. How cool is that?! I love knitted things. And pugs.
Pregnacare vitamins – Enough said. We haven’t actually started taking them yet but will do soon… Possibly for the next cycle. Although what with the fibroid I’m sort of thinking I probably shouldn’t even bother trying to get pregnant. Anyway, I thought they can’t do any harm.
Glass award – I was given this as I was involved in organising a voluntary event which I do every year for my company. We promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) to students from diverse backgrounds. It’s a really fun event and when you aren’t used to kids being around, slightly crazy.
Clocks that don’t work – I have this thing where I get clocks that don’t work. The one you can see is quite a posh one that was on sale in a decent furniture shop – it changes colour according to the angle you look at it. We had it in our old place but then it kept stopping working. Behind the bear is a really terrible Jesus clock. I love things with Jesus on for some reason. My mother thinks it’s terrible as she’s religious, but I find them funny. (Apologies to any religious people but they’re probably the target market for these, anyway!) NB I do really like most religions and would like to be religious, but I just don’t believe in it… Please don’t try to convert me as I’ve tried everything over the years! I respect everyone’s right to believe in what they want to!
Star Wars paraphernalia – There is quite a lot of it. I didn’t have it out in my old place but then my parents wanted to clear out Home-home and I had to take it otherwise they’d throw it out. There are a lot of things here. X wing fighter, Tie fighter, Darth Vader, light saber… I probably should find a kid to give them to. I went off Star Wars when they brought out Episode I.
Cat money box – It was a gift. It has a reasonable amount of change in it. I hardly ever empty it and use it but have raided it before when I was hard up. I probably should use it more often for the Domino’s guy as T always insists that he needs a tip!
Polaroid camera – An original Polaroid camera I used to use – it’s on one of the shelves. I’m not sure you can get film for it any more, and anyway it was soooo expensive (£1 per picture), but it’s really fun. I also have an old (ish) portable printer for phones where you could print phone pictures onto developing film by Polaroid – however once iPhones came out, I got one and you couldn’t connect it, which was really annoying. I’ve not tried to find out if it works with the new iPhone. Maybe I should.
Shelf full of cook books – I have a lot of these. When I moved out, I left most of my old books and have tried not to buy many reading books as it’s easier just to read them on the Kindle, and they don’t take up much space. Cook books are the exception. They’re more tactile and photo-filled and enjoyable to leaf through. Although I tend to buy them, read through them and then not really use them (or just use one recipe, so one double page in a book). The one I use the most is either Hummingbird Bakery or Peggy Porschen – both cakes. I have been through phases of flirting with veganism so I have a few vegan cook books, but I never really seem to get there (and the meaty pizza habit doesn’t help). I might do again if I can get round to it!
Metal number 8 – I was given this as a gift. It’s my thing, the number 8 – it’s my favourite number, and it’s also like infinity on its side. (I didn’t purposely put it on its side – it won’t fit in the shelf standing up.) The guy that gave it to me was a bit of a —- but I like the 8. And as I said, I’m not good at throwing things away.
Boxes of things – There are a few different boxes here. Some have jewellery in, and some have other random things in (an oil burner by my recollection). We have another large bookshelf which has “joint” stuff on like books and models and things, but this smaller bookshelf has my stuff on here, which means it collects a lot of random stuff. I really have quite a lot of jewellery but generally not expensive stuff, and I find it difficult to throw it away, hence the large boxes stuffed full of it.
Box files – There are two of these on the desk and they have “current” stuff in like my calligraphy book (when it’s not out on the desk) and a cake decorating book. Plus some other work stuff. It’s not very interesting but an easier way to have access to stuff rather than in the in tray which you then have to rifle through.
Craft box – You’ll have to hunt for this! Transparent small box with a current craft project in. It’s another patchwork dog I’m sewing, like this one. I gave one to my BFF and she apparently liked it. I have another friend (my Other Friend) who loves dachshunds and this is a sausage dog so I’m making it for her. It’s not exactly the same as the one I made for my BFF but it will be just as good I hope!
Kilner jars – I think we got these as a give away. If you live in blocks of flats in London, people randomly give stuff away by putting it in communal areas. I co-opted these for my desk (rather than cooking, for some reason). One has a collection of toy Ferraris in. One has ribbons in – I like fabric ribbons as I think wrapping up stuff nicely pretty much extends the enjoyment of the gift. There is nothing more disappointing (okay there is, but bear with me) than receiving a crappily wrapped gift / something in a plastic bag. I like to wrap things up in nice tissue paper or wrapping paper with a nice fabric ribbon on, or if it’s for someone who won’t appreciate a fabric ribbon (a bloke or a kid!) then I have long spools of party ribbon, which also doubles up for balloons. We often get helium for parties so I ended up with a lot of balloon ribbon too. Basically I’ll never run out of wrapping supplies. Another jar has pens and things in. And the last one has sweeties in.
Orchid – This is the only orchid I haven’t killed. People get me orchids all the time, despite me being terrible at plant care or any type of gardening, and orchids being notoriously difficult to keep alive. I do like them but despite my best endeavours they’ve all died. They seem to be housewarming presents – people always bring them. I have a load of ceramic pots that I’ve received orchids in which subsequently died. Anyway, my ex got me this one. It’s bittersweet I guess, but I always liked it as it looks very realistic. (It has moss on the bottom and he actually thought it was real when he gave it to me!) Ideally I’d have a live plant but I don’t think I could keep it alive. (I actually cleared out a birthday orchid at the weekend when I tidied my desk… It’s now a twig in a pot.)
Panda hat – I have a lot of animal hats. Actually I have a lot of animal clothing. Basically I dress like a grown up (sort of) in work and then I dress like a teenager outside work. I like wearing hats with ear flaps. The panda hat was from T… I don’t wear it much as the snout looks a bit suspect, but I am fond of pandas. I also have two cat hats, another panda, and a demented fox. I used to get away with wearing them at my last place of work, but I don’t really wear them much any more. So they’re more for holidays.
Bear – In case you didn’t get this, I love stuffed toys. I think I just like cuddly things. Again it’s a bit bittersweet but he’s seen a lot of action and history since – I got Bear on one of my hen do (US: bachelorette) parties. He was won by a member of the group and as it was my party, she gave him to me. I love him as he’s gigantic and I have a thing for stuffed animals of all sizes but especially large ones (cf:Giant Pug of Love). He’s the largest stuffed toy I’ve ever had. I really am the kind of person who’d love it if someone bought me a giant lifesize bear. I don’t know why. I just like them. Anyway, Bear came with me when we separated and he’s seen a lot of house parties since. He’s the kind of Bear who’s always invited to dance. Right now he’s wearing a wig from one of our fancy dress parties but for a long time he had an afro wig on. He likes to get his groove on. Women love him; men want to be him. Although he has to sit out of the way otherwise Dog would try to eat him.
Wooden heart – I forgot to include this in the first post so am adding it now! It’s hiding up on the wall because that’s where a nail was to hang it on. (When you live in a rental you have to make do with the hooks and nails that are already there. Which leads to some odd situations.) I love this heart. For our first Christmas, T got me a whole special Santa sack specially made with lots of little presents in, and it was tied at the top with this little heart which has my name printed on. We had only been together a couple of months and it was really thoughtful and sweet. In our old place where we had two big bathrooms, I put this on the largest bathroom door to show that it was mine! Now it’s overlooking my office.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this insight into my messy life. What does it say about me? I’m not sure. I think it says that I’m someone with a lot of memories and memorabilia. I think it says I’m quite bad at throwing things away. I like having little knick knacks around that I can look at and remember random things. And I have a lot of half started – unfinished projects that I’m sort of in the middle of but don’t always get to the end of!
I found it really therapeutic to clear up my desk. (This was the sequel to clearing out the bathroom… Oh what an exciting life I lead! My bathroom probably doesn’t tell a very interesting story though!) I threw out a load of stuff including some old mail I hadn’t opened since 2013… oops. I’m bad like that. Also realised that my credit card company seems to send me a lot of junk mail. Anyway I managed to get the whole place a lot more habitable as if you’d seen it before, you’d have struggled to see the desk underneath! It was just a giant pile of stuff and I just kept piling more stuff on top. It probably looks very “busy” still now but at least it’s usable and I know where stuff is!
A final thought for the day: My new neighbour moved in a few months ago and is really friendly. It’s quite unusual in London where people aren’t exactly unfriendly, but they don’t go out of their way to meet other people. This guy tries to get everyone in the neighbourhood talking to each other, and he’s super happy all the time (which I can’t ever imagine being, but he kind of gets away with it as he’s little and cute and foreign). He sort of stops people and gets them chatting and then introduces them to other people in the neighbourhood. It makes me think he’s a little crazy not to have been beaten down by cynical London life, but I like it and it brightens my day to have a random smiley interaction with him. He also has taken to writing inspirational quotes about the place. Here’s his latest…
Have a great day! 🙂