18 March 2006

A Desk of One's Own

My dining room table, like all dining room tables in every place I have ever lived, has never once been used for a meal. I usually eat sitting in a chair, towel on my lap, bowl in my hand. The theory behind this is; why mess up a good work space with plates and utensils, when it can be better used as an ironing board, desk, bookshelf, sewing center, and crafts table? Anyway, I would feel totally ridiculous sitting down by myself in front of a placemat, water glass, and cutlery.

Writing is one of my most favorite activities. In fact if I could do nothing else all day, I would be very happy. Since I still have to work for a living, my hours spent at the lap-top on the dining room table are less than I would like, but still add up. And this has created a bit of a problem. It is a lovely table, but because of the design, I can’t scoot the chair in. Or rather I can’t do that and still be able to cross my legs, (a totally necessary action if I am to be comfortable). I have been meaning to get some sort of small desk for several months now, but things just take longer in foreign countries. However, today I persevered and will have my new writing station in two days.

Last week I talked to the guy in charge of facilities at work and asked where I could get a desk. He drew a map and wrote down the names of the streets. At noon today, when it was around 300 degrees, I just about blew it off. But then I sat down to write emails and immediately remembered why I desperately needed a proper place to write, not to mention work on art projects. (My current crafts table is the ironing board.)

The taxi dropped me at the corner of the furniture street and I went in to the first, small shop. I was in a part of town where I assumed no one would speak English, and I was right. I was able to point to a normal sized desk and explain I wanted the same thing but smaller, which they didn’t have. I then went into a tiny place that had tiny kid’s furniture. I looked at a school desk and thought it might work. But the shop owner was a taste surly, so I continued on down the road.

Two more stores and I found my place. It was larger than the others and a lovely, middle-aged woman came out to help me. She did speak a little English, which proved quite helpful. I found something close to what I wanted, but asked if they could make it without the drawers. This, I had to mime, but was understood. We finally got the right size and color, and instructions to assemble it without the foot rest and drawers. It will be delivered on Monday, at a very reasonable price.

That finished, I pulled out the other scrap of paper that had the street-of-cheap- shoes. This had been supplied by some of my students. Earlier I had checked the map and seen that it was only a few blocks from where I was. I think I have written about the impossibility of shoes here in sizes larger than teeny, and styles other than hooker. Hence, I was overjoyed to walk into the first store and see all sorts of doable footwear in larger sizes. I had been looking for sport shoes that could pass for work shoes, but ended up with funk-o-la Birkenstock style sandals, made of a pearlized blue.

Further down the street I walked into a fair sized shoe store with rack upon rack of all sorts of shoes. I was immediately drawn to the row of Doc Martins. Oohhhh, more totally un-university-instructor, happening shoes! At first I had assumed they were copies, but once again I was proven wrong. Guess Doc M also manufactures in Vietnam. And boy, have the styles changed since I had last tried on a pair. More importantly, those thick soles on some of the styles are now made with light-weight material, making them comfy and easy to walk in. I got two pair, at a total cost of about $17. I started to look at the sneaks, but I had already spent enough money and time shopping for one day.

I will now have feet and a back that won’t hurt. I am only worried about getting frostbite at work while wearing sandals.

Find the Frog