Sunday, January 31, 2021

Welcome to my office, belatedly

     If I had to summarize the lessons of the Trump era in one sentence, I would say, "The Trump years were a painful lesson in the toxic danger of self-absorption, though many people were too fixated on themselves to notice."
     I'm as guilty as anybody—okay, not as guilty as those willing to scrap our democratic traditions, their own physical well-being and truth itself in service of a monster who whispers sweet nothings in their ears. But still pretty damn self-centered.
     Though I'm aware of it, and try to fight it, and occasionally succeed. I like to think that counts for something.
     For instance, in October, James Finn Garner, leading "Inside for Indies," a laudable effort to drive folks to independent bookstores for the holidays, asked me to give a tour of my home office. He didn't have to ask twice (well, okay, he did, but that was more from disorganization and delay than reluctance. I was glad to do it, eventually). There is something enticing about showing off your space. I definitely remember being in 7th grade, navigating the difficulties of Roehm Junior High School, and there being a hip young teacher, Miss Jones, a big 1973 afro, and I remember thinking, "If only Miss Jones could see my bedroom, she'd understand."
     Anyway, I showed off my office, in a video I shot myself, and the result was suitably low production value that I didn't see need to share it beyond the leaf-in-the-wind of Twitter and the raise-a-finger-and-clear-your-throat-in-a-riot of Facebook. Leading, after only 10 weeks, to a grand total of 177 views on Facebook, which give you an idea of the kind of small ball I'm playing here. Frankly, I was glad not too many people saw it, between my skipping the punchline in the 55-word story I read (the title is "Published") to my godawful attempt to read a Louise Gl├╝ck poem.
     But a regular reader objected. A while back, and again this past week, Jakash writes:
     I asked about this once and you replied that you were considering it. I'll ask one more time and then never mention it again.
     Half of the commenters to your EGD post yesterday remarked about the photos of your old S-T office which accompanied it. (I was one of them, but still...)
     I think they, and certainly some other folks, would be interested to see that video of your home (and months-long primary) office that you filmed for that independent-bookstore supporting online series a while back. Maybe you don't agree, or maybe you have another reason for not wanting to post it. Which is fine, needless to say.

     Aw heck, if it's important to you, sure. So, with apologies in advance, you want me nattering on about books and writing in my home office for a dozen minutes, you can find it here.


  1. I hope your use of past tense 'years were' is correct. I hope.

  2. That's really cool. Thanks for showing us your "Man-Cave". You might have more books than some bookstores. Very cool. And I did notice an old catcher's Mitt. Looks like a great place to hang out.

  3. Most enjoyable leisurely tour of your office. Pacing was perfect to take it all in. You're a natural docent.

  4. dropped by your room.
    louise gluck. yes. you're right that anger is the wrong word, perhaps the oed can track down the right one. i only know this-she makes you pay attention

  5. It occurs to me that we are very underappreciative of the value of taking 12 minutes or so out of our day to memorialize our everyday life... as we live it... right now. It can be boring to watch it five minutes later, but five years later, twenty-five years later, it can be mesmerizing, and unlike our ancestors, we now have the ability to make high-quality recordings on the spur of the moment.

    Twenty years ago now, I balanced a massive VHS camcorder on my shoulder to follow my young son around as he gave the viewers (whoever they may be in the future) a guided tour of our new house. I haven't viewed it myself recently -- I'm not sure I want to as I get all kinds of roads-not-followed regrets when watching home movies -- but I know its future historical value, and have painstakingly transferred all our recordings to digital media over the years.

    Back in the late 1990s sometime, I was in California to visit a family friend who had been an assistant to Dr. Jonas Salk in his final years, and got a private tour of the Salk Institute, including a visit to the late Dr. Salk's office. They had left it virtually undisturbed since his passing, and while the papers and books scattered about were not all that interesting, closing the office door behind us revealed Dr. Salk's lab coat, still hanging on the back of the door. It gave me chills.

  6. Loved your twelve-minute tour. I wanted it to be longer. You have some cool stuff. And all those books, of course. Your office looks like my whole house. We are both avid readers and book collectors, but I am also a terrible hoarder and pack rat. So, after almost thirty years in this house, the books have taken over.

    Unfortunately, we live in a two-bedroom pre-WWII bungalow of less than a thousand square feet. Twelve bookcases, including the floor-to-ceiling ones and the built-ins. All crammed with books, many more of them acquired by me than by my wife

    . I really need to start purging, but I never do it. When I die, some of them may literally go out the window and into a dumpster or a dump truck. Maybe most of them. Maybe all of them. My wife is a neatnik. I'm not.


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