The renovations to our ramshackle cottage on the moraine of Connecticut were supposed to be completed by Memorial Day. To pilfer a bit from writing of the hard-boiled school, it was ok that the contractor was lying, I never believed him anyway.
Then we were told we'd be in around July 4th. Then mid-August. Then mid-September.
Now, I'm hoping we'll be in before I'm dead.
I'm supposed to have an office in this house. A small 12x12 foot space surrounded by bookcases in the basement. My subterranean aerie was about 80-percent finished two months ago and is about 50-percent finished today. Just recently, the contractor decided to install a leak in the basement wall.
Of all the bits of the massively expensive renovation, I am most excited by my office. I've never had a room of my own. And to be surrounded by a few thousand of my books, with a door and sound-proofing against uxorial clangor is an emanation devoutly to be wished.
Along the way, I've begun, in a desultory manner, to shop for little things that I'd like to be surrounded by.
The first thing I looked for was an old IBM Selectric typewriter--in red. It doesn't have to work. It just has to be.
I made a lot of hay working on Selectrics and even more working on the IBM account, and it would be a symbol that would make me happy. I like the diesel hum of solid machinery.
I'd also like an old oak-tag-card punching time-clock. We had to punch in and out at my first three or four jobs, and there was something about punching that I liked. I liked getting paid for every minute I worked. I liked coming back from lunch 12 minutes early and making 12 more minutes worth of pay. I liked the honesty of the machine.
I also liked the firm mechanical cah-chunk as your card was stamped. Second, I liked the no-nonsense officialness of complying with rules--like showing up and staying at work--that made sense. Third, having a time-clock reminds me of my working days when work was more orderly and disciplined. If you never had to punch in anywhere, you've missed something. It's as real and satisfying as eating ice-cream with a wooden spoon, or rolling up windows in your Ford with a hand-crank. Obsolete, yes. But no less valuable for that obsolescence.
Finally, I'd like a roll-top table. No matter where I work or on what, my desk will in short order be a mess. I enjoy messes--and think they lead to discovering ideas. Serendipity springs from chaos, and messy desks are chaos and I like that.
The roll-top part is a tribute to my first ECD, Marshall, who had a handsome, modern roll-top. And maybe to Bartleby, the scrivener. It's also a way to hide the mess when you need to hide it.
I've paid for 97.9-percent of our renovation from my income--without taking out loans. But when it comes to spending for myself, I am as impecunious as anyone who knows what the word means.
I suppose I could bow to the way things are today and form a Kickstarter, but I won't.
I'm sure I'd be kicked.
Not so sure anything would start.
I'm clearly not worth the money.