Friday, December 21, 2007


Sitting at my desk I'm surrounded by little traces of its past occupants. When I first started working there, I found a library card, and someone else's gym card buried inside one of the drawers. I returned them to who they belonged to, but I probably should have left them at the dig site. It wasn't something I thought much about at the time.

No, at the time my interest in archaeology was new, and so I plundered antiquities with little thought as to their historical significance. The eleven cents in the middle drawer quickly disappeared into the black market, and an empty hardbound notebook with someone else's name stickered on it, suddenly had my name stickered on it, and my staff meeting notes inside it.

The few things that remain are the ones that are the least obvious. There are two tufts of frayed black thread stuck somehow to the blades of my scissors. I imagine that someone didn't bother to hem their pants, and instead, the bottom cuff, being caught and dragged under someone's heels began to fray, and the offending chunks of ratty fabric clipped and possibly taped up, at-desk tailoring.

I could have removed these two tufts of fiber from my scissors long ago, but for whatever reason I don't. I kind of like them. Seeing them there puts me in a thoughtful mood.

Sometimes I wonder about the pins stuck in the walls of my cubicle, who, when and why. How they came to be placed just so and not in any other way, without strategy.

If I was a set dresser like the career aptitude test told me to be I would have placed the pin just so, trying hard to make it look natural. You see it in the alleys here all the time. They remove the real garbage and homeless people, hose them down and then put in their own fake garbage and homeless people, spending lots of time and attention arranging it just right. It's a fascinating process.

But ultimately, none of this is really planned because it's real, built on top of the bones or ashes of whatever came before. Not something you can make in an hour or two, no matter what kind of professional you are. And there's no guarantee that you'll know what your contribution is going to be. Makes me wonder what I'll be leaving behind.