Home Office vs. Coffee Shop

I like writing in coffee shops. I also like complaining. Especially about noisy blenders, people in line who act like they’ve never eaten a breakfast sandwich before in their lives and thus take 18 minutes to order, other patrons who selfishly sit at the four top in the far corner even though that table is mine.

Replies I receive to my little rants are not “you notice such exquisite details in daily life and report them with zesty and droll modern-day majesty”. No, nothing life-affirming as that. Replies comes in three categories:

1. Now listen to what I have to say, and the semi-asshole-ish:
2. So why do you write there? And, the ultra-asshole-ish:
3. Writing in public is “performative”.

Fingers firmly plugged in my ears. My own path. My own path. My own path. But, fingers are no match against earworms. So I’m pretending “performative” has nothing to do with this new task of re-doing my home office, and instead was born of dual goals: cutting coffee consumption and creating a write-anywhere habit. By home office, I mean 1/3 of the upstairs loft. By re-doing, I mean mostly re-homeing all the crap shoved there “until I figure out where to store it.” and wrangling my overabundance of office supplies.
After a couple of false starts, I Googled office organization.


It’s glorious. It’s color wheel heaven. It’s Pinterest, but without that one photo set of Chris Evans looking like a truck stop trick. ALL GLOSS, NO ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF THE TRUE DESIGN DILEMMA OF MY OUR TIMES: what to do that doesn’t involve sewing slip covers (because no) when the thrift store office chair clashes with the dumpster-doved bookshelf?

Instead I learned everyone but me is oddly, almost desperately concerned with placing the desk in a Power Position ™. In poorly remembered and reported short, the desk facing the door, putting the desk owner’s back to a wall, forcing outsiders who enter to approach the desk owner face-on. All of which, I suppose is important in the corporate world. Here, I could digress into an observation that all the major players at my day job have this set-up, while the lower management (me!) are crammed 2 and 3s into smaller offices – without windows—and lined up along the walls with our backs to the door. But I won’t. Because I’m nice. Or a team player. Or whatever term they’re using to shame us into not pointing out inequities.

Anyway, in my home office, my desk is not the Power Position™. The desk fits best along the north wall, putting my back to both the doorway and window. As I auditioned various re-positionings, and managing to laugh at the results. Desk crammed into the dormer as though I am trying to shove it out the window. Desk set in the sweet spot having both the door and the window in my line of sight while my back is against the wall, which puts me partially in the hallway and partially blocking the bedroom door. Desk aligned with the south wall which accomplishes none of the Power Position™ criteria, and also blocks the storage closet. Should I just get a differently shaped desk? Should I forget Power Position ™ and invest in a big old cushion and nap instead of write. Is there a self-confidence position? An automatically hit on zingy verbs in the first draft position? A see plot holes first thing position? Lay/lie correct usage position?

After a few hours of navel gazing face-savingly disguised as tizzing out, I decided to stop taking pre-modern architecture as a personal failing, and more forgey-aheady to stop compiling reasons to discontinue using the coffee shop, and spend some time examining why I like writing at coffee shops.

Besides pumpkin bread.

At the coffee shop, my favorite table in far corner. Power Position Thing-a-Ma-Bob™. Facing the door. Check. Facing a window. Check. Outsiders must approach me face-forward, and because they are strangers, they do not. Unlike my husband and cats who approach from any damn angle they feel like and drain my chi by asking questions like, “Where’s the yellow dish soap?”

And, hey. Lots of Natural light. Gobs of it, great sunny swathes of light. Front row seats to sunrises. And here’s the kicker, there’s way more natural light at my favorite locations than there is at the equally nearby same-chain coffee shops where I don’t care to write. My at-home writing space lacks natural light. One tiny window in my space, and another on the other side of the house. No sunny swathes. No sunrises or sunsets.

May invest in a light therapy lamp. Because typing through this dilemma has helped me find the answer: I should be greedy. No more guilt about writing in coffee shops AND I deserve a space in my home where I’ll thrive artistically.

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