The Idiosyncratic Office


The Idiosyncratic Office


This month, we’re delving into the issue of office supplies and how they affect our writing. So I looked around my generally messy desk to see what I might want to write about.


The first thing that came to mind was my computer. Unlike most people I know, I don’t have a laptop. Instead, I have a 10-year-old desktop computer, an Apple iMac. I love my computer, even though it can be recalcitrant.


For example, let’s say I want to add some photos to a blog post. Occasionally, my computer actually obeys and provides me with the downloaded photo within seconds. But most of the time, it takes several minutes for the photo to appear among my downloads, where it belongs, as I stare, increasingly frustrated, at the colorful beachball circling around and around and around.


Why not get a new computer? After a decade, surely it would make sense. Or, as many people have suggested, get a laptop? So portable! So easy to use! You can take it to Starbucks and write there! You can take it on a trip!


But I’m a creature of habit. A creature of habit with annoyingly finicky eyesight. And this computer is set up exactly how I want it. No eyestrain. No glare. No problems in that regard.


Which brings us to the next item on my desk that affects my writing. Multiple pairs of glasses! First, there are my regular glasses, the ones I wear most of the time. Driving. Eating. Getting on Zoom. But there are lots of reading glasses too! Mild ones for working on the computer (I have those on right now). Medium-level ones for surveying papers and other documents. And then the heavy-duty ones, for irritatingly small print. I’m using those more and more.


And then there’s the elderly battery-powered radio. There are two stations I listen to: the news, on NPR, my backdrop as I work. (Yes, I could listen on my computer, but then the computer slows down even more than it ordinarily would!) And the sports station, so I can run away from the news and listen to the Washington Nationals. They’re so bad right now that it’s not very comforting, but it’s just a game, right?


I could go on, but I think I’ve said enough. Now I’ll switch glasses and do some laundry.


--Deborah Kalb


  1. I so identify with this about the old computer. I have a bunch of old tech. And some tech that just ACTS old. :)


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