I think I have one of the nicest offices of anyone I know. My daily commute consists of rolling out of bed and shuffling a few feet down the hallway. My boss doesn’t care when I show up or if I show up in my pajamas. Plenty of birds come by to visit; sometimes deer. Okay, it’s pretty cold in the winter, but then I go south to my winter office. Er … I take my laptop downstairs by the woodstove.
But maybe the nicest part might be what I get to look at – well, besides the incredible view of New England right outside my window. My walls and bulletin boards are covered with all sorts of things that inspire me, spur me on and remind me who I want to be when I grow up.
I have a laminated 1995 plate stamp of the US Postal Service Georgia O’Keefe stamp. Beside the glorious red poppy stamps, is a photo of Georgia herself and her quote: “Nobody sees a flower, really – it is so small – we haven’t time, and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.” Oh, man, I meant to use those stamps to send cards to all my friends, but I didn’t have the time!
The bulletin board just behind my computer monitor has my “Honourary Where There Is No Doctorate” which reads, “for medical diagnosis in Uganda beyond the capacities of mere mortal doctors.” I earned that for correctly diagnosing my friend’s son’s case of mango maggots (when the MD had diagnosed a rash). I was quite proud of myself. I’m sure my friend would have been equally proud had she correctly diagnosed my daughter’s roundworms!
Next to it is a lovely, handwritten and decorated poem that the Peace Corps volunteers in Uzbekistan gave to St. John. It opens with, “John Waite, he’s gotta cool wife …” which probably explains why it’s hanging on my wall instead of his!
Then there’s all my little reminders: “YES WE DID!” from Barack Obama, “Life is Good” from those goofy guys who make those great t-shirts (highly appropriate wear for my office, by the way), and this from Isaak Dennison: “The cure for anything is saltwater – sweat, tears or the sea.” And then my own little reminders to myself: “CC: Agent/Editor/Publicist” and equally important, “DO YOUR KEGELS!”
A postcard with a jubilant Audre Lorde and her quote, “When I dare to be powerful – to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”
On my desk sits my faithful (if dog-chewed) squeaky toy: Buddha at the Compuddha. And leaning behind him, this great Chinese Proverb: “You cannot prevent the birds of sorrow from flying over your head, but you can prevent them from building nests in your hair.”
Next to that is the plaque that reads: “RISK more than others think is safe, CARE more than others think is wise, DREAM more than others think is practical, EXPECT more than others think is POSSIBLE.” Out of everything on my wall, I think that one sums up my life philosophy the best.
Behind me is another bulletin board full of pictures that support my writing efforts. There’s St. John, my grandmother and all authors whose careers I’d like to emulate: Elinor Lipman, Anne Lamott, Bill Bryson, and Molly Ivins. Also the book cover of The Best American Travel Writing (hey, why not?).
But my favorite photo, clipped out of a magazine years ago – is of five naked women I don’t even know. They are all of a certain age. Hell, they are years past a certain age. They are sitting in a sauna, draped in red towels but you can see their battle scars – gray hair, wrinkles, mastectomy scars, saggy arms, double chins. They are in the throes of some serious, joyful laughter. Happy, happy survivors of whatever life has thrown at them. I have no idea who these women are, but I love sharing my office with them. And I hope to grow up to be just like them.