Saturday, November 17, 2007

North South East West... In All the World This Desk is Best

I'm sitting in an internet cafe with a $4.00 cappucino in a porcelain mug. Jazz music pipes through JBL speakers - speakers that are carefully situated behind shabby chic book shelves and antique coffee pots. The cashier has blue stripes in her hair, the bus boys are dating, and there's ads for closet rearrangers and dog walkers on frames bought from an art sale in Tuscany. The internet is fast. I have hours on end to write. I can take breaks here and there to read up on politics, art and the best farmers markets in the Valley. I'm doing all this...

... in my head.

In reality, I'm sitting in Grandma stella's mobile home spare bedroom. She's giving Stink a lesson on turkey manners to be executed on Thursday at the in-laws. While I type, Pip periodically pops in with de-shelled peanuts, serving them to me in a plastic Baja Fresh pico de gallo cup. "Don't throw it away," she implores me. "I wouldn't dream of it," I reassure her.

I love being here, listening to my little voices in the next room. As I stare at her desk, I'm immediately reminded of my father who is now gone. His office looked just like this: with the old desk lamp that sways and bends like a goose. The 1980's brown phone with the soft ear piece added on with sticky glue. There's a calender from the local bank on the wall. A family photograph sits (with her son's head spliced in since "he wasn't actually there") on the faux wood paneling. There's a piece of tape over her light switch to remind her that, with the lights going off, so does the computer. An old rolodex sits to the left full of names that probably no longer live anymore.

I love this desk. I loved my dad's desk. The staplers were solid and felt good in my hands. The pens (often pilfered from doctor's offices) had hours of stories and poems in them. Stella's desk has character. Like my favorite people, everything you see is what you get. Not like today, where everything is hidden behind a flat screen monitor. Contacts are stored in address books on files. And godforbid someone else wants to find one. You need the password and code name just to get the number for the neighbor. Stella doesn't need her neighbor's number. She just walks out front and taps on their door.

I know I'm idealistic to think of life in the old days. They had their problems, too. The relics from thrift stores I assign meaning to were probably tossed for a reason: bad reminders of a decade that left a scar. But for me, it's simplicity. And a time when people lounged around. Where formality wasn't more important than sincerity. Where you could fight and stick your foot in your mouth and still be friends the next day because you were going to live in the same apartment for the rest of your life, so just suck it up and move on.

What do you think? Do you romanticize the past or look toward the future? I mean, if we didn't have technology, where would bloggers be? Oh, I'd never know you! Can we find a combo of both?

Happy weekend. I hope you spend it doing what you love, with who you love.

More of my writing can be found on Babycenter.com. I write under the name Andrea Frazer and can be found in the Momformation Section.

11 comments:

Blog Mama said...

Seriously. I'm constantly think that things are too fast, too demanding. From Ry's preschool to my friends (well the ones who don't have kids anyway). I'm reading Barbara Kingsolver's Animal Vegetable Miracle (although very slowly since I have no time) and it's making me want to move to a farm, where life starts and ends on the sun and you see people when you do and you get there when you get there. No planning of play dates or cookie bakes months in advance and your mom is found canning in the kitchen on a Saturday and you're not allowed to do anything on Sunday.

His Girl said...

again, a beautiful blog. i also find myself wondering what life would be like if we weren't so modernized... what if we really could just sit with friends and play pinochle every single Tuesday like my grandparents did without so much... convenience keeping us away?
then again... I am glad to live today. When a friend told me his daughter has leukemia the other day, I praised God that we live in the generation who knows how to fix that at least some of the time.
balance? I think it comes from picking through the lessons of the past and applying them to the hope of the future...
thanks again for the thought-provoking blog. I'm blessed as usual.

Elaine said...

There is a thread in your piece which connects to my head, Mama P! Oh but I do love the new technology stuff and would be lonely without my computer gateway to the world.

Liza's Eyeview said...

Happy weekend to you too :)

James said...

Your dad's office rocked! The classic garage-converted to an office of the late 70's- mid-80s. If it weren't so blessedly hot here, I'd be in my garage constantly. I'd make the Mel Frazer....

Totally sharing those sentiments. Every once in awhile, we will stay up late or spend a lazy Sun. Morning playing Junior Monopoly (CAPITALISM at it's finest!) or Gnip-Gnop (b/c ping-pong is too hard at 5). It rules.

I wanna turn our patio into a sorta lounging area (w/ screened in porch accutrements) complete with a ping-pong/billiards table dealio. But, maybe the garage is a better option now that I think of it....

All Hail Mel!

J

liv said...

it would be nice to have a delicious melange of the past, present and future, no?

Pam said...

In spite of how much I love books and old movies, my situation being what it is I don't know what I would do without blogging and the Internet, not to mention being able to create art on my computer. And yet...

I can't help but long for a time when the pace of life was slower, neighbors weren't strangers, the streets were safer and so many weren't in a headlong rush to get through today and on to tomorrow.

Our moments in time were meant to be savored. One of the things I love about you is that you know that.

amisare waswerebeen said...

Parts of my past are too ugly to romanticize. I tend to dwell on parts of it til I'm bored and move on to the next. It's actually a good way to deal with it and not think on it again.

amisare waswerebeen said...

Oh, by the way, I posted a review on "The Jane Austen Book Club" for you.

Gretchen said...

Okay...either I was censored or blogger didn't work. either way, I thought it was a great post, and I think I romanticize the past and look ahead to the future with those same rose colored glasses. Have a terrific Thanksgiving! xxxooogretchen

Princess in Galoshes said...

I like going home to my Grandmom's house for just that reason. The gin and whiskey make their traditional appearance well before dinner, then dinner (with plenty of wine) takes three + hours, and then there's dessert. When we wait for Grandmom's signal to "move to more comfortable chairs," and the conversation moves to the Laz-E-Boys in the living room.