I moved back to St. Louis permanently about a year ago. It was a whirlwind: “Thesis Hatement” came out my second-to-last week of work at Ohio State, and only a few of my colleagues talked to me about it, though all were supportive to my face. Then I finished the school year and said goodbye to teaching (I thought forever); then I sold off the near-entirety of my belongings from this apartment, a beautiful, perfectly located, and also perfectly roach-infested place at Olentangy Village in Columbus:
Then we packed all that was left of me into the Saturn (which is not a large car by any stretch), and drove the seven boring-ass hours down I-70 for the last time:
And then, for the first time since I could remember, I started to feel safe again. The job market couldn’t hurt me. The hundreds of vitriolic haters couldn’t hurt me. The judgments of my ex-colleagues and ex-“friends” in the discipline could not hurt me. I was finally home.
Trouble is, we’ve been really, really lazy about furnishing this home. It took us months to purchase a proper Queen-sized bed that lives off the ground. We still only own two chairs, both of which we use in the bedroom instead of nightstands. We always meant to do something about the Jack-Tripper-era kitchen and its inescapable grunginess, but we’ve never gotten around to it, because our ultimate goal is to someday move far, far away, back to California. But that goal keeps receding further and further toward the horizon until it disappears entirely. When I was pregnant, we had our escape route planned, but since the miscarriage it’s all been thrown into limbo once again. But after I miscarried, I decided to do something that would make me happy: furnish the second bedroom of our place, which I use as a home office. For the last year, the room has looked, I shit you not, like this:
My “workstation” is a small foam mattress on the floor, bolstered by a bunch of pillows that don’t quite do the job. My “shelves” are all Rubbermaid bins, which double as work surfaces and display areas for my family mementos. The place goes from semi-organized storage space in which I happen to do most of my work to full-on proto-Hoarders in about a week, and my husband refused to even go in here.
Well, it took a year (and the concern that the IRS might indeed audit my house and wonder what, exactly, my home office looks like), but a few weeks ago, I finally used some of the honorarium money I’ve gotten for doing talks and media appearances this year (and I’m always available for you, in case you’re interested!), and without dithering over it I laid out $350 at Amazon and bought a shit-ton of cheap furniture. To be specific, I bought the leopard-print chaise upon which I sit and type right this second (I don’t work well at a desk), a long coffee table upon which whatever I’m doing can be spread out quite nicely but still within reach; two small cube shelves that are almost like my favorite unit at IKEA but not, since we don’t have an IKEA nearby and I didn’t want to spend $300 on a $60 bookshelf to do IKEA-via-Amazon; three awesome fabric drawers for one of the shelving units.
Everything arrived while I was freaking out about last week’s debates and several concurrent deadlines, but yesterday I finally took a day off and indulged in one of my very favorite activities: putting together furniture. I topped it all off by making some of my trademark star-shaped wall decals out of Contact Paper (you can see I had that “aesthetic” in Columbus as well), and bought an awesome dry-erase wall decal to map out my various projects. Here is the result:
Work nook: chaise, coffee table.
Books, mementos and scheduling ORGANIZED.
I am hoping that the way my luck works, we will now get an opportunity to move to Los Angeles immediately and I will have to get rid of all of this stuff, but for now, I am also hoping that working in a room fit for human habitation will raise the quality of my output a bit, or at least my spirits.