sketchbook: Friday 9 September 2011

FRI 9 SEP 2011 1:50 pm MY OFFICE

I’m at my desk. I don’t spend too much time actually sitting at my desk. More often I swivel here from the whirring PC behind me to look up a word or other fact. Merriam Webster’s red Collegiate Dictionary, 10th Edition, stands in a row of books lined along the edge of the desk to my right. It’s sandwiched between a copy of Bleak House and Dictionary of Word Origins by John Ayto. Next to that, The Origins of English Words by Joseph T. Shipley. Next to that, 7 more books, then some notebooks and binders.

Stacked by my left elbow here on the grayed moss-green blotting paper are 3 books I’ve referred to in the past day while writing. From the bottom up: A History of Architecture by Spiro Kostof; The Stoddart Visual Dictionary (excellent resource—I got it in 1993); and The Astrological Body Types by Judith A. Hill—a fascinating and useful little guide to how astrological factors—planet, sign—affect one’s physical appearance. Each has a little colored paper flag attached to a page I’m using.

A big Ikea stein of water stands nearby on a rush coaster; a pencil lies beside them. Before me: some burgundy file folders in an escalating plastic holder, with labels like “Website Diagrams” and “The Mission—Research Clips”. The wall is a rich sky-blue. Pinned at eye level is a Vajrayana postcard: a line drawing of a pair of jeweled deities in sexual embrace. Above that: a horizontal poster of the celestial sphere projected into a great ellipse with the Milky Way stretched along its major axis. All the major stars are depicted in color and the constellations labeled.

The large ground-floor window to my right looks out, through a loose grid of white bars and white venetian blinds, on the sunstruck green of the garden overhanging the brick patio. The window is shaded by our back deck, from which stairs descend to the end of the patio. A hibiscus blooms there with pale-lilac-colored flowers. But mainly it’s a dense mini-forest of green, hemmed under the clapboard cliff of the building next door.

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