I get up very early each morning, prepare coffee, and orient my consciousness at the desk in the music room. The obsolete Toshiba laptop takes several minutes to boot up. While it goes about its own morning routine, I make the bed then glance out a window to monitor the weather conditions. By the time the coffee has finished steeping, I grab a mug and cozy up to the desk.
It’s a smallish Art Deco “waterfall” style desk. The waterfall style is distinguished by walnut veneer that is rounded rather than sharply cornered at the transition from desktop to the vertical front. I’ve owned it ever since 1978, when I when I bought it and a dresser for a pittance from a secretary at work who sold her belongings so she could relocate to the east coast.
During the last two years of that decade, it remained covered with three layers of chipped enamel paint. The top layer was a yellowed white, the middle layer was a 1950s shade of pink, the other layer was baby blue. In various places, the original stained and varnished wood peeked through chipped areas.
During the summer of 1980, stripping and refinishing the desk became a weekend project. The job required two cans of paint-stripping gel, a scraper knife, steel wool, and various grades of sandpaper. After the wood surfaces were buttery smooth, I applied walnut stain then wiped off the excess. The final treatment was a couple of applications of tung oil to the sides and drawer facings. The desktop received three or four applications to nourish and enhance the veneer. The refurbished desk became a pleasant workspace.
There are three drawers at each side of the desk and one shallow drawer at the center. The center drawer is for some of my pens, pencils, and everyday writing essentials. The old desk fills all the requirements I need for writing and studying. At the present time, sit a modern lamp, a LaCross weather monitor, a Swiss beer mug full of pens, various knick knacks, and a few solar wrist watches that charge beneath the lamp. Of course, I always ensure there is room to park a coffee mug.
The desk stands adjacent to the north window facing the street. In the early morning and at night, the Venetian blinds are closed for privacy. During daylight they are usually rotated open. I like having them open to monitor the goings on in front of the house. This makes the desk seem like master control of the neighborhood.
Sometimes I think about trading the desk in for a sleek, modern place to work. The urge doesn’t last long because I’d hate to betray this friendly, old piece of furniture . I think I’ll keep it at least a few more years. It’s good to have a comfy, productive place that allows creativity to germinate.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes best-selling Japanese writer, Haruki Murakami. “Every day I go to my study and sit at my desk and put the computer on. At that moment, I have to open the door. It’s a big, heavy door. You have to go into the Other Room. Metaphorically, of course. And you have to come back to this side of the room. And you have to shut the door.”