I hate it when my books go missing. I know I own a copy of On Arthurian Women—my book list attests to it (thanks, Laura), but it’s not with the English Arthuriana, and not with the French Arthuriana, and not with the recent acquisitions that haven’t been properly integrated into the larger collection. It’s not in the piles around my desk, which I reduced considerably before going traveling. Possibly it’s at school, because I did teach Arthurian lit this spring, but then why didn’t I bring it home? And why can’t I teleport my books back and forth? Why don’t I at least have a web cam set up in my office so that I can scan it from here, instead of wondering for the next week whether I’ll be able to find the blasted book in my office when I next go in? GRUMBLE grumble grumble. I had an idea, and I wanted to look into whether it was viable.

Oh, well, hey, if I used it to teach, maybe I made a PDF of the essay I wanted . . . yes, indeed I did. Ha. More ways than one to skin a cat. But I still need to remember to look for the book when I next go to campus.

Which brings me to what I want: a bigger study. Now, this is definitely a complaint from privilege. Since I finished grad school, I have always had a study, and I know this is not a luxury every scholar enjoys. In my condo, where my study was smaller than the present one, a male friend once visited and lamented that he would love to have so much space for his own work in his house. But he had children (and in the Bay Area, at that), so if he wasn’t in the office, he worked at the kitchen table or on the couch.

Nevertheless, I still want. I want to have space to organize all of my books by LC number, in order, without banishing any to “oversize” or “undersize” shelves. I want space for shelves next to my desk where I can put the in-current-use books and have them immediately to hand when I’m writing an article. I want to have a separate table (or even a separate little room or nook) for the sewing machine and other hand-work supplies. I want to have less cat paraphernalia in my study. I want space for two desks (or one much bigger one) so that I can have a grading/teaching prep station and a research station set up simultaneously. If my study continues to do double duty as my dressing room, I want more space near the closet to keep accessories, so they aren’t distributed between different rooms and perched on top of books. I want a space to stash the wastebasket where Basement Cat can’t knock it over, instead of having to put it up on a shelf where he can’t get at it! I want space for a comfy chair or futon couch, or maybe one of those zero-gravity chairs, so I can read more comfortably. And, as I have said before, I want one or more big windows that look out onto trees, and get a lot of natural light.

What do you long for in your work space (whether or not this is a realistic wish)?

*Paraphrase of Catullus’s “odi et amo”: “I hate and I love: perhaps you ask why I do this.” He continues, “nescio, sed fieri sentio et excrucior,” “I don’t know, but I feel it happen, and I suffer.” I memorized these lines long before I really learned Latin, because I ran across them as the epigram to something and found them so striking. Apologies to Catullus if I have mis-remembered.

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6 thoughts on “Odi et volo: quare id faciam fortasse requiris*

  1. Two words: Google books. I used to want more space; now I just want Google books to finish scanning everything in the universe so that I can carry it around in my iPad and never lose it again in a pile of photocopies.

  2. I want a desk. I want a chair. I want bookshelves.Sadly, these only exist for me at the office. My home office is a corner of the couch and the side table beside it. Comfy but not really a place where I can stretch out or consult a lot of books!In the meantime, I, too, thank goodness for PDFs and electronic assignment. These two innovations have greatly reduced my piles of paper!

  3. Could I have someone to organize things after I've made a mess? And to go through the scraps of paper? I want to be more organized.

  4. I want what you want, and I want what Fencing Bear wants, except that I want Google Books to allow inserting comments. I love the idea of the web cam in the office, and if you set it up, LET US KNOW HOW YOU DID IT. The "where is the book I know I bought?" dilemma is why I joined LibraryThing, although if I forgot to put it in LibraryThing, I'm clueless.I have a huge window with natural light in my study, but since it looks out onto the street, apparently I am the scrutinized as well as the scrutinizer. "Does she work all the time?" someone asked Spouse the other day. The answer would be "no, sometimes she blogs."

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