into the office and started reading the spines of the
books on the bookshelf. "I'm always curious about
what people are reading," she said. When I worked
for a big oil and gas company I was interested in what
people had on their desks. One sign of a higher position
in the hierarchy was a completely empty desk. So an
executive's desk would typically be an expanse of mahogany
with an elegant (never used) pen set, and perhaps a small
wrought iron sculpture of a bull, or a man on horse back.
I'd walk in across the broadloom with my notebook and briefcase,
and that was always more clutter than the V.P. could bare
-- me + notebook (oh and pen) + briefcase. It was standard
practice to ask the secretary (always a woman) to take the
briefcase (no matter how slim and classy) away. She almost
always hid the offensive item in a cupboard until I emerged
from my interview.
In that circumstance status = empty desk. By that
gauge I am lowly indeed. My desk seems to grow its own
new conceptual art piece daily. Here's a random sample from
today's: coffee mug (a must), scissors, soggy cat toy (a fake mouse
taken away because the cat was eating it). Three glass jars of pens,
and one antique glass cream jug of pens, a Mavis Cheek novel,
a butter knife (used to separate pieces of watercolour paper
from the block), a journal, wooden triangles to go into canvas
corners, my course timetable from school, a roll of Scotch tape,
a coloured print of a painting, and The Book of Fruits, The
Complete "Pomona Britannica" by George Brookshaw.
The book is absolutely lovely and was on sale for $2.00
Of course that's more or less the surface level --
the upper surface of the pile.
But I'm curious. What's on your desk? My desk doesn't have
any drawers, but I know that's not enough of a reason for
its clutter. On TED TV I saw a software invention that would
make your computer desktop look as crowded as my desk, and
I couldn't completely grasp the advantages of extending the
clutter to one of the predictably orderly places in my life.
Winter in TorontoOn a side note, it's bitterly cold here today, and a huge section
of the city was without power for 24 hours. So if you live
in a southern area, enjoy your warmth.