Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Show Me Your Cubicle

In contrast to it's December neighbor and the New Years Eve reminder of 12-months passed, January is a clean-slate month, with New Years Day a glimpse from a high place overlooking the horizon where shapes of what lies ahead begin to come into focus. Some of the shapes are clear: a scheduled business trip or vacation, a milestone birthday, a new car to replace the one that started making suspicious (translate that: EXPENSIVE) noises just as you were starting to shop for the holidays. Others are vague shapes that start out looking like resolutions and goals, dreams, big plans, maybe even fears.

After years of resolving to be a kinder and gentler me, I am pleased to announce that I am, finally, kind as can be and gentle as hell, so I'm moving on to loftier goals in 2008. No, I'm not going to list them. But I thought I'd explain one of them to you as it presents a real dilemma for me: the compromising of my personal happiness and comfort to keep my boss happy.

To begin, I'd like you to meet my cubicle:

Well, technically not a cubicle. A very famous designer named Herman suggested it would be cool to make our office interesting with shapes that resemble something of a regulation Navy-drab grey cluster of screened honeycombs. This is the personal space to which I report each work day, unless I am on the road traveling. For ease of communication and lack of a better term, I'll call it my cube. (Although remember, it's not really a cube. I LIKE square, cube-y spaces and my space is anything BUT cube-y.)

My cube has funny shaped tables. Nothing fits on them squarely. The desk is shaped like a kidney bean, undoubtedly the result of a study somewhere which revealed that account reps sitting at kidney bean-shaped desks increase their annual sales volume by an average of 24%. While they might look really cool in a catalog, they're not very functional. But enough about my not liking my desk. The company paid tons of money for it and the matching file thingies and the industrial looking racks too and once the choice was made, I accepted the decision and that was the end of that.

Perhaps you noticed that my cube is "busy". I like that term. It's the one my neighbor used when she looked into my open one-car garage last summer and noticed the accumulated belongings of me and all three of my grown children. It was her nice way of saying, "wow, that's alot of stuff...."

She was right. And she'd be right about my cube. I have alot of stuff. My boss has mentioned to me that he doesn't like all the stuff in my cube so I thought it would be a good idea to give some thought to how I could change my cube it to make him happy.
I took a closer look.

It's hard to know what has to go and what can stay. I work for a company full of artists and am slightly perplexed when someone doesn't understand that working in a grey-drab world of Herman may feel modern and efficient to some people, but to me it's more than boring, it's like a big, annoying lid on my creativity. It lacks color, it lacks texture. Why on earth would someone like me want to come to work every day and sit in a colorless, texture-less cube??

Still I ponder. What goes?
My little stuffed penguin?? I think not. A co-worker gave that to me. I love it. He went out of his way to be nice to me. My fur and rhinestone framed picture?? I think not. I hosted two clients for three days last summer when they came to Des Moines to visit. I immortalized them earlier on my blog after all the fun we had. They made that frame for me as a thank-you gift. I LOVE that frame. When I'm on the phone with customers that are not happy with me, who are yelling at me, I look at that frame and remind myself of better moments.

In a grey-drab Herman world, the new beginnings of a living, breathing philodendron in a Propel bottle should be obvious. It's GREEN and I understand that sort of thing is really big right now. The DebbieBucks sign? Yeah? What about it?????

I use all these pens. ALL of them. Markers too. And the scissors. Yes, there is more than one pair. That's because people borrow mine all the time, so I need to have an extra. I use the handle of the paintbrush to stir my coffee. Clearly THAT can't go. And I use the little metal cocktail stirring shaped-like-a-hand thing to scratch my back. Duhhhhhhhhhh!!!!

I suppose the rubber band could go in a drawer.
What about this little picture?

No way it goes.

Last year I flew with one of our artists to work with people at a gallery in the San Francisco area. It was a short trip, we were busy all weekend and, as is usually the case, had little time to see the sights. On the way to the airport the morning we left, one of our new friends took time to show us around town, even stopping for pictures at Haight and Ashbury and on the sidewalk right in front of Jerry Garcia's old place---which was something akin to a pilgrimage to Mecca for the artist I was traveling with. It meant alot to us that he took the time. The picture is something we made to thank him for being so great. I meet lots of people like that. I like to think of them.

Stuffed owl?

It's from my last trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. A little kid gave it to me when another artist and I were sitting at an outdoor restaurant, enjoying dinner with a gallery owner in the shadow of the Grand Teton mountains. It was a fabulous summer night that I like to remember.
The shells are from my trip to the Jersey shore. I worked and played there last year. I really love it there. The ceramic turtle has been with me for a long time. He sat on the dashboard of my van for years before some lady pulled out in front of me in traffic and totaled it. I bought him a long time ago because turtles are my favorite critter and they remind me that, just like the turtle, I have everything I really need to get along in life, right here under my own shell.

Photos of granddaughters and other favorite little people? They're a given.
Anyone who doesn't understand................probably doesn't have grandkids.

And behind all of those special things are work-related references that I use all the time.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
By now you're getting the idea that I like to be surrounded by things that evoke good memories and positive feelings. Such is this whimsical little card taped where I read it everyday, the work of a wonderful artist, Brian Andreas:
It reads:
If you hold onto the handle, she said
It's easier to maintain the illusion of control.
But it's more fun if you just let the wind carry you
I like the way Brian thinks.
And there you have it : the rubber band goes.

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