Monday, November 19, 2007

"The Office" (workstation series) 69 (Holy crap! edition)

I am not a good bureaucrat. I don't like paperwork, I hate following regulations, and I don't like to file things. Any organization, deadline-making, or GDT effect in my day-to-day life is purely and simply a product of (a) a sense of responsibility to those people who are depending upon me to make the deadlines and follow up with the forms and (b) the (to me) miraculous filing, organizing and finding capacities of a computer operating system. I don't lose too much stuff any more, and I make the deadlines: kids who ask me for recommendations get them in time, new course proposals are on-time and correct, proposals are complete and timely. But it don't come easy or natural to me.

Hence, messy office. I just don't quite get there with all the stuff to file, versus all the stuff to do (to be fair, my office also serves as repository for instruments, Dharmonia gear, all the books that don't fit in the home library or are better accessed at school, Celtic Ensemble hats and Morris sticks and T-shirts et al, and so on). I'm sort of a devotee of that old carpenter's rule about filing bills, receipts, and invoices: on the pickup's dashboard for current stuff, tucked behind the visors for urgent stuff, and on the floor under the clutch pedal for generic stuff. Or else of the theory that anything that sits on your desk for six months without starting a fire is summarily out of date.

But it was getting to be a problem: starting to be embarrassing when colleagues would come in to consult--and it was fixin' to be a real problem, when next fall's graduate candidates and assistant-professorship candidates started coming in to see me. I had the plan all sabbatical long that I was going to clean up--or at least go in there with a shredder and excavate. But, of course, I didn't get to it: was too convinced there was too much else to do.

And then I was gone for 9 days working on the minstrelsy project. And Dharmonia, with the able assistance of the Dearly Deported, and Mac Tire, and Dr Iaido, and Taiyo, and various other friends and students whose kindness, generosity, and loyalty I truly don't deserve, effected the following:

New paint;
Books sorted;
Papers (literally, yards of it) sorted;
New desk!;
New rugs--beautiful tatame;
Personal and "Musicology" bulletin boards outside;
Student paper archives sorted;
New shredder;
and lots more.

I was blasting into the School to get to Celtic Ensemble rehearsal (straight from the airport), when Dharmonia said, "No, I really think you need to stop by your office first." Had no hint of anything afoot until I saw the nice new laminated signs and posters on my door--and even then I was so jet-lagged I thought "Oh, cool, she laminated my posters." Then we stepped inside--and I Was Gobsmacked. Unbelievable burst of energy to have a clean, tidy, and professional space to work in.

In this photo: it's degrees on the wall, plus some awards, plus my Dad's MFA diploma from RISD. Above the (new!) brown bookcase, a collage final project by a former student in the Ireland seminar. To the right of the bookcase, a rack of archaic audio gear used for ripping vinyl LP's (of which I've got about 2500 in a storage unit) to mp3. Above, a bulletin board with snapshots and sketches of heroes: James Brown, Robert Johnson, Eugene Debs, Allen Ginsberg, Gearoid O hAllmhurain, Kate Bush, Paddy O Brien, Dick Gaughan, Duke Ellington, Mac Rebennack, Malcolm X, Peter Flanagan, and a wonderful two-fer: a sketch of Gary Snyder by Robert Crumb. Below that, a mask from the "V for Vendetta" comic and film: the only Hallowe'en costume I'll ever wear again ("Remember, remember the fifth of November/The gunpowder, treason and plot/I know of no reason/Why gunpowder treason/Should ever be forgot").

I am beyond-words grateful to my friends, students, and life-partner for doing this for me.

More (in approximate clockwise fashion) below the jump.

Below the bulletin board, to the right of "V": a small Buddhist postcard reading "Fall down seven times/Get up eight times." Then a large-scale roads-and-topography map of the Republic. Below, the old VDT for the computer the Uni bought me in 2000, now mostly employed as a paperweight and rattly old hard-drive storage.

To the right: bookshelf with the student papers I'm required to archive for a year, and various readings packets and other teaching masters. Below the map, one-off decal, made by bodhran buddy John while he worked at the high-end pickup-accessories boutique, with a Lone Star flag, which reads "Texas, Land of Wretched Excess." Below that, cheapo Lexmark printer out of which I've gotten very good service (always glad to keep components out of the landfill if I can).

Looking west along the wall with the windows--both of which look out south to the parking lot where the band rehearses in Fall semester. Means I get some fresh air, but it also means I learn all the band shows. There's a female squirrel (nicknamed "Rocky") who uses the window sills that run along the building as a highway--but has also learned to stop and rattle the screens until I leave some pistachios out for her. This side of the window, a Tibetan image of Manjusri, the "Buddha of keen awareness" wielding the sword that cuts through ignorance: patron deity for my teaching (and an endless source of curiosity for the Asian students, who can't believe that somebody who looks like me might be a Buddhist); below that, a beautiful batik print of Basotho xylophone players given to me by my sister. Beyond, one of the several old-fashioned wooden armchairs I've salvaged from elsewhere in the building: I'm a sucker for a solid-built old wooden chair. On the bookcase above the file cabinet: racks of reel-to-reel audio archives, gear for the Celtic Ensemble's Morris side.

Above: ratty old printter which I haven't yet figured out how to recycle, CD display racks free from Oasis per thousand-discs-ordered, and (Hooray!) BOOKCASES!

Looking straight north down the "L" that turns the corner from the desk (the kids who don't know me well hate the L-shaped floor-plan of the office, because when they open the door they can't see me. Claim it scares them). Many more BOOKCASES (Hooray!) to the left, display wall on the right. From top left, if you were facing the wall: beautiful poster of painted Turkish pottery, souvenir of a concert of asik music we played to celebrate Henry Glassie's new book. Various posters from concerts of African and Irish music we played at Indiana. Great hand-lettered poster by Reverend Thompson commemorating a concert he and Mason Brown played for us here. Giant poster from a large multi-event Irish arts festival we played in the Netherlands around 2003 and which I schlepped all the way back by hand.

It's nice to have a "clean, well-lighted" and peaceful place to work.
Now playing: Richard & Linda Thompson - Bird In God's Garden

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