I picked up a magazine at the grocery store not too long ago called, “Where Women Create.” It is an evil fantasy publication, designed to cause unrest and redecorating. It is totally fascinating.  It contains, between advertisements for cardboard boxes costing $40 and up, photos of incredibly beautiful “creative spaces” that supposedly belong to women to write, make jewelry, design the interiors of zillion-dollar houses and paint masterpieces using laundry soap and sharpie markers. And apparently, they never make a mess while doing it because they have all those $40 cardboard boxes to hide the clutter.

The reason I know the pictures in this magazine are probably photoshopped within an inch of their creative limits, or complete inventions of overly organized minds is that some of these pictures feature pets. On the pristine white counter top next to the carefully stacked papers of the “successful editor and feature writer” sits a cat. And the papers are still in a stack.  Fake picture.  In another, a beautiful golden retriever is taking a nap on a rug that probably cost more than my car in a room full of lovely pillows. None of them have chewed edges or stuffing trailing along the floor. Again, an obvious fake.

I’m supposed to be cleaning up my “office.”  It’s a really nice room, painted a beautiful and soothing shade of blue by Oldest Son with a shelf that surrounds it on 3 sides, which is, of course, covered with books, as is the bookshelf  on the opposite wall, a comfortable chair I found at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, and waaayyyy to many boxes of junk and they are, sadly, not the color coordinated paisly $40 variety. Most of them used to hold beer. Or toilet paper.

At some point last year, when our large dog and her cohort, Oldest Son’s even larger dog, needed space to call their own, I, in a fit of dementia brought on by tripping over a dog bed in the family room for the 100th time, said something like “I could share the room with the dogs, let’s corral them in the office.”  I didn’t have to say it twice, and just like that, I lost my private space, my writing space, and a little piece of my fragile sanity.  My nice little room became a nice little dog kennel and I began writing in corners and coffee shops. But today it is snowing and it is about 14 degrees. I don’t want to go to a coffee shop, and because of the aforementioned winter weather, there are no quiet corners in this house because everyone who lives in it or once lived in it, or got bored with the snow is hanging out.

So, I’ve decided on this snow day, to TAKE BACK THE OFFICE!”  How hard could that be, just because it hasn’t been dusted in longer than I’m ever going to admit  in writing, the floor is covered in dog beds, dog toys and chewed up remains of what I greatly fear are some of the books that used to be on the bottom shelf?

It’s kind of like an archeological expedition, or one of those treasure hunts in the remains of an ancient civilization.  In the midst of dust and dog hair and cobwebs, I’ve found:

  • At least a half dozen books that I need to read Immediately. I have already started reading two of them – while conducting this expedition.
  • A stack of wonderful and hilarious cards sent to me by friends during my adventure with breast cancer.  Some favorites offered pearls like these:
    • “Well of course they’re fake – the real ones tried to kill me!
    • A panorama of what at first appears to be intricately painted Easter Eggs. On closer examination, however, you realize that what you are actually viewing is a lot of intricately painted bald heads.  I can’t tell you how close I came to going to church that Easter with my head painted.  Should have done it.
    • The world is full of people who will go their Whole lives and not actually LIve one day.  She did not intend on being one of them.”
  • Enough yarn to knit a blanket for every child I will ever know.
  • A carefully hidden collection of dog toys, which I do not believe actual belong to this household. Yes, it is quite possible that my dogs have been out in the neighborhood stealing dog toys. Or extorting them over the fence.  Or maybe strangers bring them toys to keep them quiet when we are not home. I have no idea.
  • SIX computer mice.  It seems that we never throw anything away in this house.  As far as I can tell, none of these function as actual peripheral computer tools. They might work as paperweights. Or maybe we can glue wheels to them and convince the grandkids that they are toy race cars.  Note that throwing them away is not listed as an option.
  • An entire bag of scrunchy hair bands.  I have not had enough hair to scrunch since the breast cancer adventure, I have no idea why they are here.
  • An envelope full of clippings about disappearances and unidentified bodies, collected during a Mystery Writing Workshop.  If anyone nearby comes up missing or unidentified, I’m probably going to the Big House.  I know how this works.  I watch Castle.

Well, obviously, I’m not making extraordinary progress, and now it is time for the Jayhawks to play basketball, and I know they need me.  But I will keep excavating and report any finds that are important to the understanding of civilization as we know it.

Assuming this expedition is successful and all artifacts are labeled and stored away somewhere with the Ark of the Covenant and Indiana Jones’ hat, that will leave the challenge of sharing my most personal space with a Labrador Retriever and a Beagle/Heeler.  And a Maine Coon, who thinks every inch of this house actually belongs to him.  I wonder how it will all look in a magazine spread?


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