Anytime I hear about people wanting to leave full-time office work in favour of working from home, I want to stage an intervention. Same for people who express a desire to live in tiny houses. I have some experience with both. This is roughly my reaction in both cases:
I have many friends in the same crowded little boat, and was thinking of them when I read a piece in this weekend’s Globe and Mail, all about the lovely home office of a probably lovely person with unquestionably lovely taste. You can read that article here.
After seeing what others had to work with/in, I was, in a word, envious.
At the same time, I felt somewhat marginalized. The subject of the article has a fantastic work space but it in no way reflects the reality of most work-at-home folks, especially those with young children, especially those who live in the 416.
So as counterpoint, I decided to interview myself. Here’s what I had to say.
Professional writer Jeni Armstrong loves her job and wanted her home office, located in the house she and her partner purchased seven years ago in east-end Toronto, to nurture that enthusiasm. Unfortunately, it’s a two-bedroom home with an unfinished basement, so Armstrong’s resourcefulness was put to the test. “My options were basically the kitchen table or the couch,” she confesses. “The kitchen table won out because it’s further from the TV and also because it’s a table.” When asked if she regrets the choice, the mother of two shrugs: “It’s out of direct sunlight and there’s reliable WiFi. Are these questions for real?”
The dining room window
This is what I look out of all day long. There used to be two big trees that I would study as I wove together different drafts of speeches, articles, op-eds. The trees were on a neighbour’s property and when they cut one down, I cried. Like, actually bawled. The window casing? Shit, I don’t even notice that anymore.
I honest to God don’t know where that came from. We usually have fake ones from the dollar store in that vase. They’re orange and fairly hideous but my kid picked them out.
It’s bamboo; we got it on clearance at Home Depot. Reasonably durable, but cracks like a frickin’ Icelandic glacier with any changes in temperature or humidity. The next floor is going to get glued AND nailed and if that doesn’t work, fuck it. Pine needles. I don’t care.
… is a table. My chiropractor sent my work chair a thank-you note for all the repeat business it sends him. The table is also where we share our family meals, work on LEGO, play cards and stare at the wall of Rubbermaid containers that never seem to get emptied. Filled entirely with my own crap, so I’m not allowed to complain, by the way.
Debbie Travis for Canadian Tire. For? Or just at? I don’t know. You hit the switch and there’s light. Mission accomplished.
The desk decor
I already told you: it’s a table. Anyway. Placemats are from Kitchen Stuff Plus and are great because when they get dirty on one side you can just turn them over and hold off on doing laundry for another day. The mug is from Indigo. I like that its handle keeps me from having to wrap my hand directly around a ceramic vessel filled with burning hot liquid.
Ew, that’s not mine. I use a MacBook Air.
The elastic bands
The other night we went out to one of those room escape games, and our half of the team had to crawl through a maze made of laser beams. This is my kids’ attempt to recreate the effect. They’re a little young to appreciate the weaponry potential of elastic bands, but that will come in time. That will come.”