Office 2: The Desk

I know, the floor’s not done. But I want my desk back. The last time Mollie was here, she took everything on the desk and put it in a box and shoved the box on the window seat so she could work. The box is still somewhere on the window seat, buried, and my desk is a hellhole again. So I will return to the floor, I swear, but today it’s the desk. Actually, there’s another aspect working here: I don’t want to do the floor, the floor is boring, and even if I double the fifteen minutes again, it STILL won’t be done, but I’m pretty sure I can do the desk in fifteen minutes and then I can work there again. The desk is a TREAT. Kind of.

So, here’s the desk:

Desk A

Mollie’s theory is that there should be nothing on a desktop that you don’t use daily. Of course, she’s also anti-tchotchke which I feel is draconian. But clearly there’s stuff on here I don’t need at all. Like . . .

Very early, early notes from DLD when Bob and I were doing Dueling Binders. He’s the Binder Boy, I just did mine to compete. As I remember he was trying to put all our e-mails in there. Then his binder exploded. I’d already given up so mine is fine. Except none of these notes make any sense in conjunction with the final draft. We really wrote that one the long way around. Rememer what a great character Hannah was? Oh, right, we cut her. And the jacket, the jacket was great. Right, we cut that, too. Never mind.

Empty journals and notebooks, eight of them. Completely empty.

A fan letter from 2001.

A rough floor plan of Two Rivers.

A list of flamingo mentions from Agnes.

A picture of a wedding cake from Agnes research.

An RWA from October of 2006.

A copy of the invitation to a party I threw in Columbus when I was in the MFA program. (How did this stuff get on my DESK?)

Two packages of batteries.

A magazine about Bermuda, because I might set a story there some day.

The instructions to my new keyboard that say, “Turn off your computer, attach the keyboard with USB cord, restart your computer.”

Notes from a tarot reading I did. A year ago.

A notebook with notes in it.

My new keyboard.

My old keyboard which works just fine, thanks.

Two pieces of bunny paper to make an origami box to hold bunny tails for the blanket I’m making for my editor’s baby. (I think he’s three now.)

Many sticky pads that I transferred to the tray that’s already full of sticky pads.

A set of twelve colored Sharpies, still in the package.

A list of septic tank contractors in Clermont County.

A picture of me that I took back when I discovered the camera in my laptop.

Three boxes of Kleenex.

Box of industrial strength Velcro.

Lecture notes for the Cherry Con on fiction basics.

A package decoration.

Passport photos that make me look like a drab middle-aged woman from Ohio.

A 2007 calendar, with nothing on it for Sept through Dec, which means I stopped writing things down.

Tissue paper from Martha By Mail.

Wrapping paper. I think it migrated here from a collage.

My passport holder with my passport which needs renewed.

A To-Do List.

Scraps of torn paper with AKMG notes on them.

Many empty envelopes.

Tylenol, still in the box.

Two packs of spiral bound notecards. NO idea what I was going to do with those.

My copy of a contract.

Laura Resnick’s book, Rejection, Romance, and Royalties: The Wacky World of a Working Writer. We had lunch and she gave it to me before I could buy it. I’m sure it’s fabulous, since Laura is.

Two $30 off cards from Staples.

Two reams of printer paper.

The sample piece of Corian from my bathroom remodel. Over a year ago.

Ohio postcards I bought to send to Bob to annoy him.

Two giant paperclips from the Humanities Council.

The squeeze cherry promo from Bet Me.

My Wile E. Coyote cup and my Wonder Woman cup.

A box of pushpins.

The box that I put all the cords in from my electronics so they’re not snaking all over the place.

The surge protector.

A copy of the British Welcome To Temptation.

Three prescriptions I never filled from 2006.

The paperwork from the car I bought last November.

My contract with BenBella for Coffee at Lukes, signed but not sent.

Rough drafts of handouts for the Cherry Con workshops.

AKMG notes on full sheets of paper.

An old cellphone. From two cellphones ago.

The SMP catalog with Agnes in it (double-page spread, we were very happy).

Flamingo pen.

Devil Duck Drive.

Two pair of earrings.

An earpiece for my last cellphone.

The tape of a psychic reading I had in New Orleans when RWA was there (five years ago?)

My nametag from the Maui Writer’s conference (four years ago?)

Two boxes of pens.

Two bras.

A hotel receipt.

Oriental Spice hand cream, tiny little jar.

An old Russian wood swan from my grandfather’s house.

A Mac plug.

A card that says, “Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet,” that I bought because I’d forgotten all about Roger Miller (Dang Me). Must go to iTunes and see if they have him. No, must finish cleaning desk first.

A copy of the Spanish Bet Me (from when I put the cover up on one of the Argh posts).

A Xerox of the Queen of the Night bas relief for D&G.

My Heroes back-up DVDs from iTunes.

The keys to the truck I sold my nephew. Hmmm.

Wolfie’s disgusting old dog collar.

The Dance of Anger by Harriet Lerner. Good book. Meant to read it again for Agnes and then misplaced it. Oh, well.

Anthropologie catalog. Good for collages.

The Fortune Quilt by Lani Diane Rich. Terrific book.

Queen of the Night book, research for D&G.

THe end from a giant styrofoam drill given me by my tech crew from when I did high school theater tech. The end broke off and I’ve been carting it with me ever since. The rest of the drill is somewhere, but the end always ends up on my desk. It’s signed by Mollie and Matt; the rest of the names are on the rest of the drill. I love this piece of styrofoam.

An inhaler.

My therapist and my editor’s business cards.

Two curtain rings.

A check register from 2005.

Two trackballs.

A box of TicTacs.

My Wacom tablet and mouse.

Two cups of pencils, pens, scissors, whatever.

The phone.

That’s it.

Well there are also the four shelves beneath the table. One has a tray full to overflowing with stickies. Another is full of cups of pens. Nobody needs this many pens. Then one had a tray full of notecards, my stapler, and a box of business cards, except I never use business cards, so they’ve been there for years. And the last one had a tray of . . . stuff. Ten rolls of scotch tape, a box of report cover labels (huh?), two rulers, Galactic glue, a stack of Unfortunate Miss Fortunes bookmarks that SMP sent us, paperclips shaped like dogs that my mother sent me, a paper punch, a light bulb, rubber bands (I never use rubber bands), white out, three measuring tapes, a wireless mouse, a cherry paper clip (hello, Jill!), four more rolls of scotch tape, a roll of packing tape, a lanyard to hold a name tag, a small Krispy Kreme mirror, the spare battery to a computer that is now in upstate New York, and nine mini rolls of scotch tape (no, I don’t know why there’s so much tape).

And ta da!


What did we learn from this?

Fifteen minutes is not very long. If you subtract the time I took to list all the stuff I found, it was about half an hour to clean off the desktop alone. The shelves were maybe another ten minutes. It’s still fast, but fifteen minutes, I dunno. OTOH, fifteen minutes SOUNDS short so that’s why you start cleaning.

And I am never allowed to buy notebooks or sticky pads again until these are all gone. Ditto for black pens and Scotch tape.

And a clean desk is a beautiful thing.

[You know, this has to be a lot like watching paint dry. Really, come back in ten days and I’ll do a real entry.]

56 thoughts on “Office 2: The Desk

  1. No, you are giving us all hope. Of course, instead of cleaning MY desk, I am reading about all the fascinating things you have on yours. Or used to have.

    Maybe you should use this as your Christmas card picture…just add the dogs! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Wow, that’s amazing! I find that inspirational – there’s hope for my desk after all. Just wondering where the teddy bear went though (it hurts their feelings if you put them in dark cupboards)?

  3. We instituted a pen-buying ban back in…2004? Not out of pens yet. It’s amazing. I don’t know where they come from. I didn’t even have a job to steal them from for two years.

    Oh, yeah, and I turned down an enormous bundle of pens from my mom before she sold her house to move into the RV.

    Way to go on the desk! I’m going to put all the toddler books from my desk into the toddler’s own room, right now.

  4. Two $30 off cards from Staples.

    At this point of the list I thought you had to be done soon. I was wrong. Lol. I’m glad you’ve gotten it straightened out. But if you ever go missing we’ll know where to find you.

  5. I am vicariously enjoying the cleaning of your desk. Mine is equally encumbered (as your *was*). However, I have spent many 15 minuteses today collecting clothes, bedding, towels, sheets and fabric from the living room and hall and schlepping it out to one of the storage sheds for sorting. Anyone into that stretchy polyester from the 70s? I think my mom may have cornered the market about the time she quit sewing.

    Tomorrow I have to figure out where to put all the small appliances, chopping boards and other kitchen stuff until I have a kitchen again. Oh, boy. I am so glad you decided to post on this. Misery loves company. ;+)

  6. Oh I love that trestle desk! I’ve been lusting after one in black for a second proper desk. I’ve got an office supply fetish too – particularly for sticky notes. It was a sad day when my favorite pad ran out a while back; it was powder blue and had my motto on it: “Often wrong, but never in doubt.”

    Devil Duck Drive? I am intrigued. I will google.

  7. I suggest you drape your bras over the desk lamp. They won’t get lost, and they’ll look suggestive. Titillating, even.

    But you don’t have room on your desk to set papers down. Don’t you need to plan for the next pile?

    That’s why I got an under-the-desk keyboard tray. Must have room for paper on desk. A desk without paper is like… a lampshade without a bra.

  8. It’s almost midnight on the west coast and I can’t sleep. I’m totally wired but have no idea why ’cause I worked like a crazy woman today. So, I got back out of bed and decided to come visit you. After reading that list, and having a cup of hot chocolate, I’m ready to go hit the sack. Heh. Good job on the desk. Keep up the good work.

  9. I love this string of entries! You are an inspiration. Now I know I’m not alone and I totally get the shame motivation factor. If I had an iPhone or even a digital camera I would take a picture and send it to my mother. She’s definitely get on me…or come visit and try to clean. She grew up in Dayton. So I reallly enjoyed reading about your booksigning there.

    I remember when you posted your office picture at the beginning of 06 (?) with reference to the always organized office of SEP. I seem to recall it was linked to New Year’s resolutions. I printed that out to inspire my wave of organization and clutter control. It worked very well…except I still have that picture tucked into my letter holder, on the window ledge of my bedroom. I see this as a sign. Time for another serious round of “get your clutter under control, KK!”

    So kudos to you for taking this on and thanks for sharing the ride!

  10. You are an inspiration, Jenny.
    Fifteen minutes – i can do that. Surely i can do that?? By God I NEED to do that.
    I have a kitchen timer and i’m not afraid to use it.
    You rock (like we didn’t know)

  11. Wow, these posts are making me kind of ill. I know my place is cluttered but nothing like this…which I guess is a good thing…

    I’m in a “toss it if you don’t need it to breathe” mood (comes from hanging out at friends’ bachelor pads, ugh); I’d take everything that has to do with already-published books, post it as extras and Easter eggs and whatever else we’re calling it now, and toss, toss, toss. But I wonder, can a packratty person just not do that? Do they have some sort of mental block up against it? Is that why the places get so overwhelming? Why does my best friend have unopened mail in at least four rooms of his house? AHHHHHHHH!

  12. I love your desk. I love that you are sooooo much worse with desk shit than me. You are someone I can hold up to my husband and say – see, not as bad as Jenny. You DH, should kneel before me and worship me for I am Ms Neat Freak by comparison. But that would just turn him on….
    Have you thought of piling that list of stuff together in a crate – the stuff your going to ditch – and auctioning it somewhere for some charity. I’m thinking there’s a lot of us out there salivating over your rejects…..
    Buy a boxful of Jennifer Crusie crap. It’d sell like hot cakes. Agnes hot cakes.

  13. Great work on the desk and thanks for clarifying the bras, that one had me stumped. You inspired me to de-clutter the buffet (read as crap catcher) in my kitchen. It’s only been a week since I tidied it, but my very artistic 5 year old uses at least a ream of paper per week for his drawings and most land on the buffet along with various electronic cords, chargers, and the entire contents of DH’s briefcase. I feel the need to reclaim flat surfaces everywhere!

    Keep up the great work! We’re right here cheering every step of the way.

  14. Enjoying this Jenny as I am a packrat, married a packrat and produced three. I’m motivated now to tackle more areas. Did the dog room yesterday–not a lot of stuff in there but it all gets covered in clay dust and dog hair.

    I’ve done FlyLady and love her but anyone who wants to read hilarious books about two unorganized sisters getting their life together needs to look for Sidetracked Home Executives by Pam Jones and Peggy Young.

    Now to tackle our desk. We seem to have lost two reams of paper.

  15. Please tell us about that ultra cool checkerboard behind your desk! Is that a chalkboard alternated with whiteboards? How did you make that?

    Yea for you on clearing your desk! You rock!

  16. Yikes. I had a good chuckle reading your last few posts. I have a room dedicated just for writing ie collecting writing stuff.

    About once a year I get into an organisational frenzy and promise to keep the room tidy and free of clutter. I don’t know how I mananged to accumulate 7 rulers when I don’t even use them – but you never know right?

    It takes me a whole week to clean out the room, and then when I need those sticky notes and sticky tape and empty notebooks and I can’t for the life of me remember where I put them and the place ends up being turned inside out again.

    Anyway, that room started with 1 desk. It now has 4. Seems I collect desks too.

  17. All I got to add today is that the bathroom I worked on Wednesday is STILL clean – even the sink.

    I did take all collected trash to the curb and it was hauled away by the trashman.

    And, I didn’t make any new piles last night.

    HMMM – it is the weekend. I’ll try 15 minutes in the am and then in the Pm each day. (Sounds good now anyway!)


  18. So not like watching paint dry. I have post-it envy. I am also incredibly jealous of that flamingo on your desk.

    I was interested/confused about the bras but then I remembered that my desk has been used to store clothes so who am I to judge.

  19. Yeah, it was the bras that made me say “Hmmm…”

    It’s a good thing you collaborate long distance. Not sure how Bob would react to that development.

    Jenny: Excuse me a minute.

    [contorts in such a way that baffles most men every time they see it. pulls bra from arm hole of t-shirt and tosses it on top of the printer]

    Bob: Um, I’ll be back in a second. I need to freshen my coffee.

    I can honestly say that none of my underwear is on my desk. And that’s without actually knowing everything that is on the desk.

  20. It’s much more fun to read about you cleaning your office than to actually go and clean mine. But, you’ve inpired me to get back to it. And, I think Flylady would definately tell you the desk is the “shiney sink” of the office, just as the bed is the “sink” in your bedroom. It needed to be done.

  21. Gotta ask, why is the spare keyboard still there? That seems like something that would be easy to stow, and then you could declare total victory over the desktop….

  22. There are three keyboards there now. Two of them will go on a shelf for the next time I spill Coke into the keys.

    The checkerboard behind the desk came from Staples. They have whiteboard squares and cork squares, and I painted the cork squares black. But the double sticky stuff that came with them isn’t holding that well, so I’d get extra of that. Love the whiteboard squares, though.

  23. i’m enjoy this saga, actually. i just did some office supply clearing out too and now i’m working on the kitchen.

    i just made myself clear out some blank journals and pens that i cleared out of our spare room. I made a small non-profit i work with very happy, too, with the markers, tape and glue stick. what on earth made me think i should buy those in bulk? pens, i understand. i am a pen junkie. can’t get enough of them. they love to write some wonderful things for me.

  24. No, this is good because it reminds me I need to do this to my apartment. Which is a studio, so about the same size as your office, just more stuff. Seriously, I could spend fifteen minutes figuring out whats fallen between the couch cushions.

  25. Trying to think of weirdest thing was ever on my desk, back when I had a desk. Bras belong in the filing cabinet, IMO. Okay. Weird stuff on desk. Used to have this son-in-law, left broken glass and bullets on my desk, but that was just to convince me to give him money enough to pave the stable. Not a threat, really.

    Is this housekeeping porn? Cause if it is, baby, you should see the size of my broom collection.

  26. I only have one keyboard in a basket next to the desk…along with phone books…probably outdated ones.

    Rest of desk is much like the before picture.

    Your desk cleaned up very nicely.

    I should do mine.

    Next week.

  27. I so totally got the bras. Mine like to hang out on the newel post going upstairs. (No, I don’t know why, they just do.)

    I read Welcome to Temptation last night. When Sophie saw Garvey at the screen door, I actually gasped, put the book down, and pulled the covers over my head. It was such a jolt of real surprise and dismay. (Then, of course, I had to read what happened next.) Good job.

  28. Okay, first I thought I was a freak because my desk is such a pigpen, then I saw the photos of your desk vs. SEP’s desk, and I felt better.

    I then read that books come to you as scenes in your head, and I heaved a tremendous sigh of relief. If the goddess of romantic comedy sees her books beginning the same way mine do, I must be doing something right.

    If you’re cleaning, I can clean, too. Imagine what we’ll all do with such clean desks. In the meantime, the list alone is beyond hilarious!

  29. a) When was Molly last there?? Looks like she might be due an obligatory maternal visit.

    b) Do you own stock in Avery-Dennison? The sheer amount of Post Its is enough to make Michael Nesmith LOL as he puts in another pool.

    c) “Devil duck drive”? Picture please! And WHERE do i get one??

  30. I don’t own a tarot deck, but my favorite online one is Llewellyn’s.

    So what does Bob’s office look like?

  31. ..Lecture notes for the Cherry Con on fiction basics.
    Rough drafts of handouts for the Cherry Con workshops.

    Please tell me that these are at the top oa a pile. Put them under the bras. Unless you put the bras in a drawer and forgot where you put them. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I wrote this once but had to redo it when my arm hit the wireless button on the laptop. this desk it too crowded. Hey, it’s not my desk.

  32. Bwahahahahahahahahaw!!!! I LOVE this. If I thought anyone would be interested in MY desk contents (and the surrounding vicinity) I’d do this. I enjoyed reading yours.
    *Heading over to Bob’s blog to harass him as instructed*

  33. Well this might actually inspire me to do some serious purging. I’ve got two rooms that need it badly and one of them includes a closet. As we all know how much stuff can be crammed into a closet it probably counts as another room. What I need is more incentive. No, what I need, to be honest, is a bribe. What can I bribe myself with to get me to tackle these jobs?

  34. I understood the bras right away. Annoying things. Can’t write with them on.

    It sounds like Mollie hasn’t visited for a long time…

    Good work!

  35. Inspired by you I did 15 minutes of cleaning last night and got all the dishes done and started another load of laundry. All to the good.

    In my last fit of organization, I bought 3 bins that normally hold ice in freezers – about 6″ wide and 8″ tall and 12″ or so long. They are GREAT for holding tape. I have lots of tape too. One bin has the scotch, electrical, and drafting tape. One has the packing, strapping, and duct tape (mostly sorted by width). There’s some blue painters tape in there too. The third bin holds my various kinds of glue: tacky, elmers, gorilla, crazy, UV, contact cement, epoxy, and Mod Podge. I can recommend these narrow bins as easy to use for the corraling of things that stick.

  36. Just wanted to say that I appreciate the way you handled my question about the music. Straight up and dignified. Gotta respect that.

    Hope that office comes out just right.

  37. Coke on the keyboard. I read in Mac world hints a few years back that you can put a keyboard in the dishwasher to get spilled soda off your keys, just don’t run in through the dry cycle. Let it dry for a while (don’t plug it in wet), and once it’s very dry again, it should be good to go.

  38. Actually, I’m a little worried about your nephew. Were there two keys to the truck or does the poor guy have to hot-wire it everyday?

    By the way, you owe me two hours of sleep because if I start one of your books I can’t stop until I’ve either finished it or am dead tired. So, even though I told myself I was just going to read The Cinderella Deal for a few minutes and then go to sleep, I wasn’t able to sleep until I’d finished it, and got two hours less than I normally do and now I’m going to be tired at work.

  39. Jenny, this is so inspiring. Very generous of you to make time to share with us! Re your old cell phone–you can drop it off at any Verizon Wireless store, they give them to domestic violence shelters for distribution to the clients. Good luck with th “I can’t buy any more [whatever] until I’ve used up all I have. That has never yet worked for me, not that I’ve given up trying. OTOH my indulgences are books, fabric, and good chocolates, a bit harder to resist than (most) black pens. ๐Ÿ™‚ For me anyway.

  40. My husband loves you Jenny because you motivated me to clean the desk today. It looks beautiful but since I’ve filed all the papers he’ll never be able to find anything. I did find the replacements for the bank cards that just expired so life is good.

  41. I read the two bras point and my first thought – lives alone. My bras end up on my desk frequently as well. They don’t stay there because 1) don’t have that many and 2) my desk is in my dining room, which is part of the living room, so no underwear allowed to live there in case of company. My desk is actually pretty neat these days, but I do have a small table beside to catch the overflow and I moved the letter trays to the floor. I do however have to spend 15 minutes clearing off one shelf in my closet. 95% of that stuff hasn’t been touched in over 18 months.

  42. You know, you really *can’t* have too many pens. Really. I am certain that somewhere out there exists the perfect pen. I must keep buying new ones until I find it.

    And the bras made me laugh. Because I keep finding them in weird places. And then my husband, when doing the laundry, says, “Why do you suddenly have 15 bras in the wash? I just did them!”

  43. I’ve got a simple way to stop myself losing bras. I reckon they’re a waste of money, so I only own 3. That forces me to hunt them out from wherever I’ve taken them off. ๐Ÿ™‚

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