Friday, September 17

The Desk

I've written about it before. It's a teacher's desk my son Jock's friend and mentor, Rod Zwick, used at Lyndon State College. If you pull out the writing shelf on the right side, his 2007 list of phone numbers for Lyndon staff is still there, taped to its surface. 

The top of the old oak desk is stained and scarred. It's huge and heavy. I'm not sure how many sons and grandsons carried it into my office that day Jock brought it from Vermont, but it was several, and none of them have offered to move it since.

I can barely see the top of it. This is because I'm a slob creative being who wants everything at my fingertips. I never have to get up for tissues, scrap paper, or notes, because they're right there. So is my coffee cup, another cup stuffed with pens, nail files, and things to cut with, and yet a third cup I...well, I don't know why it's there. It just is.

It is the best place in the world. 

The computer with its big screen that replaced the laptop in the picture sits on top of it. I talk to Nan almost every morning, sprint with the Wranglers and other writers, and stare through the window beside me at the view my son says never changes but does for me. Every day. 

My desk is a replica of the teachers' desks when I was in elementary school, before school consolidation. Our desks were on runners, with the desktop attached to the back of the seat in front of you. The floors were hardwood, the blackboards really black, and memories went through the halls, slipping quiet and unobtrusive among the thousands of students who went there. 

It was from those teachers at those desks that I learned to love writing, that being a geek was okay. Not that they sat at them much; they were always up and moving. Teaching and listening and occasionally threatening. 

Oh, we all know how I feel about teachers, don't we? I didn't mean for this to be about them, but about the Desk. But it all goes together, quiet and unobtrusive like those memories. Filling so many empty spaces. 

It's where I've written several books, had my heart made whole when they came out, and--not surprisingly; I'm a writer--having the same heart broken when they're rejected. It's where I can find peace no matter how elusive it is. It amazes me how much of my heart is in unison with that slab of wood.

My next book of essays will be out soon. I had a time with the title, because Window Over the Sink has been the title of my column / blog for over 30 years. What else could I call it? 

What else indeed? Window Over the Desk will be out soon. I'm so excited about so many things with the book, not the least of which is the cover by Maddie Jacobs. What do you think?

Sending greetings to you from this behemoth of oak this lovely week in September. Also thanks to Rod Zwick for handing it down and my son and his family for hauling it all the way from Vermont. I think Jock had the idea I would give the desk back eventually. We've I've already decided he can have it after my funeral.

 If you feel like sharing, tell us about something that matters to you like the desk does to me. And why. 


  1. Love this! I love my desk, too, although at home it's a relatively new piece of furniture, of which I am the first owner and at the lake, it's a card table set beside my bedroom window. Mostly, I love my office, which looks out over the front gardens and is full of "Nan" stuff, like a miniature Eiffel Tower and two boards full of memorabilia and my bookcase full of favorite books and...well, just me things. Of all the rooms in my house, my office is my favorite.

    1. There's such a special feeling to that very personal space, isn't there? I feel the same way about my office, clutter and all!

  2. Fabulous piece, Liz! Really beautiful. Your writing is like a bowl of chili on a winter's evening; it warms your insides, while comforting and filling you. BTW - I love my chair...and my desk...and my big screened PC...

  3. I also have a desk where I do everything! And I absolutely love your book cover & can't wait to read it!!!

  4. I'm pretty sure my desk is as messy (or messier) than yours, but it sure isn't as pretty! I love your new cover. It's beautiful!

    1. Thanks, Jana. My desk is actually much messier than that now! Maddie does such a great job with covers, doesn't she?