Prosaic Paradise

Campaign for the Mundane

Less Traveled Roads Preferred

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I cannot just go with the flow. There is something within my makeup that won’t let things be simple.

As graduation from nursing school approaches, a million questions rear their heads.

Go right into a Bachelor’s program? Wait a little? Which one? How are you even going to pay for that, you lunatic? Will you have a job? Just how are you going to get that job? Why isn’t everyone around me experiencing syncope from all these questions?

It isn’t helping me that it seems like every conversation I have presents new and more disturbing questions about at least one of these topics. This program sucks, the faculty just had a huge walkout. This other program sucks! None of the online faculty ever get back to you. The same program that you just heard sucked? So-and-so had a GREAT experience there! Oh, and what about this other place you have literally never heard of before because they weren’t listed under the Maryland accreditation, but apparently are?


So just in Maryland, which is really all I’m considering at this point because I don’t have time to think about how much more it costs to go to school in DC or VA, and don’t get me started about online programs from Penn State or whoever, we have:

  • University of Maryland: + prestige, has the master’s specialty I want, hospital attached − competitive, rumor mill things, huge
  • Washington Adventist University: + small, has a hospital attached, that hospital has a big mental health unit − will there be religious impact on my nursing practice?
  • Bowie State: + easy to get in, cheap, close − program is “in flux” and has terrible license exam pass rates
  • Towson + Cheryl says she loves the masters program − far, no actual “online” program
  • Stevenson: + the app process is the easiest − rumors that it’s terrible ± they have sent me more email than anyone making me feel wanted yet annoyed
  • Johns Hopkins: + prestige, it’s JHU, I mean, come on − they don’t need me, and it costs SO MUCH
  • Notre Dame: + heard nice things about their cohort program at Harbor, their rep was nice, um? − why had I never heard of them until this month?

I was going to put which ones were expensive as a minus, but they are all expensive. So consider that a vote for “give up”. I mean, this is like shopping for something for which you are not in any way considered a potential customer. And that will affect the rest of your life. And, next to your house, is the most expensive thing you will ever buy. I can’t decide what shoes to buy, I always just want to buy them all, so this is just ridiculous. At the same time, I feel like a college who markets to me is somehow crass and I don’t want to be a member of a club that wants me as a member. Before I started this post, I had narrowed this down to applying to ND, WAU, Stevenson, and maybe Bowie. Because I hate the most traveled road – the Terrapin road. But I think I’m going to have to look at that road. Even though they get something like 928,374 applications and have 100 seats or something like that.

And all this thought process because while I have been in school, the economy has tanked so hospitals can afford to be choosy, understaff I guess, and the hire rate for new associate’s grads is in the pooper. Three or four years ago associate’s grads were not worried about this. Not to mention, despite what some people think, every college recruiter tells me I DO have to get a second Bachelor’s degree IN NURSING before I can go after that master’s in a clinical specialty. There’s always that chance that I’ll get a job after all, and that job will be at a place that wants to invest in me and help me pay for my continued education! That feels like a pipe dream right now.

Do I sound crabby? I am not really. I mean, I am so happy to be where I am and even be contemplating all this. I just get frustrated with how confusing it all is and how much advice I get and how it all conflicts. I have three browser windows open full of tabs about jobs and schools and financial aid and professional nursing organizations. And… I SHOULD BE STUDYING!

And what I wish I was doing is watching The Vampire Diaries and eating ice cream.

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And then it happens…

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I am awake, it’s past 3 in the morning, and the stuff I took to sleep doesn’t outweigh the post nasal drip that makes me cough myself back to consciousness even though I’m “not sick anymore”. I’m having one of those moments where I realize I’m old enough to know that every day counts because when I thought about it, fitting that dream trip to Sweden in between changing and immediately amping up my career and hopefully getting off my meds so I can get pregnant (etc, etc) and eventually establishing my household the way I really want it to operate… fitting in that trip to Sweden is not a joke, involves money and logistics and possibly abandoning a hypothetical child to its father, and every day counts, even though I am not all that old and have plenty of time.

Hey. One thing I have learned is that breaks from school really mess with me, like some kind of Robert Goren mindfoo from Criminal Intent. I’m bad with change, I’m bad with lack of routine, I may be a dreamer but I am also a worker bee and without a hive and a queen I am driven into some obscure places.

And then sometimes it feels like I can make every day count. I can go to Memphis (after I’ve been wretched and ill for a week) and the day after I get back go to another social engagement and then have something important to do every day after that. It’s not impossible. Neither is Sweden. Neither is breathing out of both nostrils. It will happen again, maybe tomorrow.

It’d all be a teensy bit more reasonable-sounding if I could get to sleep though.

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Semiannual Blog Post!

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I just got home from my 12 hour shift – at school, of course. I tend to get there at 9am and so long as my study group is there, I stay there until 8 or 9 pm. Admittedly, 10-20% of our study time is spent on blue humor and discussion of farts.

I can’t really describe how badly I need to be in some kind of desensitization under-stimulation chamber. I told Jack when I got home that I need very badly to not have to think about anything critically anymore today. It is all I can do to try to pay this red light ticket online, that almost seems like too much right now.

Earlier I cried with Leslie for about 5 minutes about how blessed we are to have found each other and how we can do this and how it’s going to be OK etc etc mutual appreciation society. It was cathartic and necessary. I have a burning in my gut from overeating campus food because when I am not thinking about nursing school I am thinking about food/eating food. It soothes. Until it doesn’t, I guess. I’ll lose the nursing student weight when I graduate perhaps. Thinking critically about my own nutrition: too much. The house? Is a disaster. Jack is stuck alone doing any cleaning and it’s not like he doesn’t have a job, he’s keeping this damn thing afloat! He is a prince. Very understanding of my constant absence. Tara is the other 1/3rd of my study group and she is a mama bear. We get to our cars safe, we stay hydrated, we get reminded of assignments.

I am having the time of my life in school, honestly. I took on an extra three credits of Abnormal Psych simply because I didn’t want to graduate first and then have to take it a year from now when I should be getting a job or starting a BSN program or both. And when I get home from 10 hours of NURS234 studying, I know I have found a “true love” in PSYC203 because I actually still want to read the material for it.

I do not love Pediatric Nursing. I am ultimately bored and sometimes horrified by the subject matter. But our teachers are amazing and caring. I have a lot of hero worship going on for all my professors. They are very open and giving and encouraging. Old school nursing professors, I hear, were none of these things. I am sure glad times have changed.

This is all going by so slow/fast. It seems like a million years until graduation. (People keep saying “you’re so close!” and I am like, “ha ha, there is a lot between now and then”) But when I get there I am going to be weeping openly because I will never have another experience like it and it has made me so happy even when I’m miserable.

I got to spend time in the pediatric Emergency Dept (ED) (apparently people don’t call it an ER anymore, which makes sense, since it’s hardly a “room”) during clinicals and that was kind of a blast, apart from feeling like there were germs all over the many febrile small humans. Fast triage and regular patient inflow! Taking vitals on crying infants! Challenge! But if I seek ED jobs after graduation they will be in the adult ED, for realz.

I’m sorry to my friends. I can’t read your blogs. I can’t really call you much. I made it to the Renfaire but I felt like if I blinked I missed it. If I call anyone outside of school it’s Pam, because she is not working and has a sweet baby I like to visit not to mention liking to visit Pam, or I call Joy because while she is not at MY nursing school she’s at A nursing school, and Michelle because of the same thing. I have them on speed dial. :) I did sign up for a all-lady fantasy football league which I allow myself about a 30 minute window to deal with on Sunday mornings in case of injuries. But despite that expansive time for player research the Mighty Mutants of the National Sangria League are 0-1-2. Thanks, Nate Kaeding. Oh and I still try to participate in book club! BOOK CLUB 4 LIFE!!!! Hrm… I should get a book club tattoo.

I was told that during nursing school my life would change this much, but I didn’t believe it totally. I was like, surely I will look at google reader here and there! NO. That is hard and requires thinking. I play Team Fortress 2 with Jack or I watch terrible procedural dramas. (If you are a terrible procedural drama fan, PLEASE catch up on NTSF:SD:SUV:: on demand, I have not laughed so hard since the last time Leslie and Tara and I talked about farts.)

OK, I have no more minutes for this. Peace. Love to you all!

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Really Late Movie Reviews: Double Dare

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I woke up this morning thinking about a movie I watched last night, and I knew I had to tell you all about it.

As we browsed our sad little watch-instantly netflix queue with trepidation*, Jack remarked, “is that Xena?” Yes! It was! Sort of. I had recently added a documentary called Double Dare to the queue, the story of the recent (circa 2004) career trajectories of two stuntwomen, one a veteran and one  a newbie with one credit to her name so far – that of being Lucy Lawless’ double on Xena: Warrior Princess.

First it’s plucking the nostalgic heartstrings of that easier time before I really gave  much thought to what wave of feminism I belonged to and got together with my best college friend Telf regularly to watch the new episode of Xena. But it’s much more that made me like this film. I felt like I got inside what “real” people see of the dealings of Hollywood, from Jeannie Eppers’ attempts to get stunt coordinator  or unit director jobs (but ultimately just continuing to get stunt driver jobs and the like) to seeing Jeannie and Zoe Bell waiting for phone calls and watching reality television in mild horror to seeing the decision process for the stunt awards.

I remember when I first knew who Zoe Bell was from watching Death Proof, which took place well after this film was made. I thought I would loathe Death Proof but as usually happens I am totally proven wrong about Tarantino. (It was the same story with Kill Bill, which incidentally was Bell’s big break in the US.) Women are the big stars of these films, and their character’s personalities are writ large. And come to find out they give great opportunities otherwise largely unavailable to stuntwomen.

So this morning I woke up thinking about Sucker Punch, a movie I haven’t seen but that was touted a bit (and reviled a bit in some quarters) for being a female-empowerment flick, with a big female cast of heroines (or victims, depending on which reviewer you read) so I thought, that must have employed a lot of stuntwomen! I guess if 4 is a lot, out of 27, that’s true.

Recently we made time to go out and see X-Men: First Class. I have come to enjoy seeing comic book movies if for no other reason than that Jack is a comic geek, so I love listening to him explain the absurd family connections and plot weirdnesses and comparisons with the comics. As it turned out, I was also Fassbender-ized by the film (he was good!!). This film has about 4 major female characters (if you’re feeling generous about Angel**). There are about 78 stunt people credited on IMDB. There are 6 stuntwomen.

So that’s why I feel like Double Dare is a really important film. It’s not news that our culture is unbalanced, Hollywood is particularly weird, and women have trouble getting jobs in careers that are historically male dominated yes even in the new millenium. But this film shows success, frustration, and best of all the spirit of women to do these things and succeed no matter what. I’m reminded of several quotes from Tina Fey’s hugely successful book Bossypants:

“I’ve known older men in comedy who can barely feed and clean themselves, and they still work. The women, though, they’re all “crazy”. I have a suspicion – and hear me out, ’cause this is a rough one – I have a suspicion that the definition of “crazy” in show business is a woman who keeps talking even after no one wants to fuck her anymore.”


“So my unsolicited advice to women in the workplace is this. When faced with sexism or ageism or lookism… ask yourself the following question: ‘Is this person between me and what I want to do?’ If the answer is no, ignore it and move on. Your energy is better used doing your work and outpacing people that way. Then, when you’re in charge, don’t hire people who were jerky to you.”

Now, I’d like to have dinner with Tiny Fey and debate that a little bit, but I think the conclusion we would come to is that it’s not for the hatee to spend their time and energy educating the haters. I mean, some things can’t be ignored, right?

Anyways. I give this documentary 5 stars. Have your girl- and boy-children watch it. But fair warning, they do say “fuck” sometimes, because seriously, people get hurt! It’s stunts!

* Browsing the netflix queue usually feels like one of those my closet-is-full-but-I-have-nothing-to-wear moments, so we look for something to watch from things that are not on our queue. Surely the dictionary of obscure sorrows has something on this.

** I asked Jack if her name was Angel, “The lady with the wings?” and he said “Yeah, the wasp stripper.” Believe me, he meant it to point out how lacking her characterization was!

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Submitted Without Comment

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“Although inking or tattoos are popular among adolescents and gang members today, many health care organizations have decided that tattoos cannot be made visible to patients. A survey of health care providers, medical and nursing students (n=513), found that no respondent group had positive attitudes towards tattooed indivduals. Women’s attitudes were more negative than those of their male counterparts and were extremely negative toward tattooed professional women. Ironically, this study was done to assess attitudes toward tattooed patients (Stuppy et. al. 1998). There are no data to suggest that a tattoo will enhance a professional image.”

From Barbara Cherry and Susan R. Jacobs’ textbook Contemporary Nursing: Issues, Trends, & Management

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Summer Schedule

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I am so super bonus excited to be spending three nights a week, four hours a night at school drawing. Drawing! For a grade! I know it’s early days yet but I feel like I’m going to be sad when the session is over. Yes, I spent most of the class today learning how to draw a cup. But honestly. I didn’t really know how to draw a cup. And in fact I think it may still be beyond me. The teacher frequently cracks wise (including puns about “too loose” vs. “Toulouse”) but has an old fashioned love of phone calls. He says that he’d be up if we called at 4am, but his dog wouldn’t, and we should not wake up his dog.

I particularly love his love of journals, seeing as how I have one that I am sometimes obsessed with. He went on and on tonight about what you could put in it and I was so pleased with myself that I’ve already put all those things in the journal I already have. Well, not original poems. Other people’s poems only.

My other class this session is a simple 1 credit nursing class, known as “Trends” in which we all get depressed about The State Of Things Today and Further Wrongs Not Yet Righted. I am trying to convince my project group to do a thing about good samaritan laws if for no other reason than I saw an auto accident the other day and wondered if I should stop, and then seeing that there were a LOT of people leaping out of their cars to help, and then mildly freaking out, and then spending most of the drive home wondering about liability.

I am half an RN! If the run on sentences above are too much for you, recommend that I take a Xanax before I speak with you in person! I have verbal jazz hands right now.

Other Niblets:
– Currently obsessed with the idea of getting a Last Unicorn tattoo.
– Watching Twin Peaks again and basically it’s like watching for the first time, I remember nothing!
– I’m posting at almost 4am because our whole household is on insane summer hours. I am not sure how to fix it without getting a real job.
– I had a Magnum ice cream bar and I guess it’s pretty good but I can be satisfied by far less expensive Neapolitan over fresh banana.

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Well, why not?

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I spend a lot of time daydreaming. When I’m in my best frame of mind, I can do this for hours, and it keeps me  awake long after I needed to go to sleep. (Of course when I’m in my worst, I’m up worrying.) I can daydream about the best outcomes for a conversation I’m going to have, about my ideal home floor plan*, a completely ridiculous idea for a visual art piece**, how to manage to continue getting degrees for the rest of my life, or what having a dog would be like.

So when Genie posted her Blue Skies Living Out Loud request, I was like, yes. I am this!

My psychology is a complex balance between caution and creativity, though. I have the part of me that’s all “You can’t be a professional musician, that’s impossible, or nearly enough that your eggs should be in a different basket.” or simply “They’re all going to laugh at you.” I also have the part of me that’s like “I know that last time I tried to learn to skateboard Genie got her arm fractured and Mary got her ankle broken, but I’m going to learn how to skateboard, and being fat and 35 is no reason not to!” I like to think this is good, and not insane.

(Leslie, my much younger classmate and current nominee for best person***, said “I would not be getting on no fucking skateboard. You will get your shit broke!” As I just found out that another classmate had to drop out of the program because she broke her arm and you can’t care for patients with a broken arm, I am shelving the skateboard idea until after my final exam. DAMNIT.)

I actually think that all this blue sky business came to me more naturally as I got older. People think about getting older as a time they have to give up their dreams, compromise, sacrifice. I think I did WAY more of that in my teens and twenties. Why? Oh, always for a dude. Should I scrape together everything I can and go to the best university? No… no I should go to Tech, there is a cute guy there. (Actually, that was probably it’s own twisted life-ruining form of blue-sky thinking.) Should I do the best work I can at my job and then maybe get them to help me pay for grad school? No, this relationship really needs my energy now. Not that I regret those things; everything happened the way it was going to happen. Just that nowadays, the only limits to my blue skies are Jack’s reasonable feeling that he’d like to keep living in Maryland.

Fortunately, there’s still plenty for me to dream about right here.

I just wrote this scholarship essay where I boldly stated that if they chose me, they might be funding the person who helps make sense out of the way we provide mental health care in America. I mean, I don’t have a clue how I would do that, but it could happen! Anything could happen. If I try hard enough (and have enough crassly fabulous good luck), I can make whatever happen. I just put in a volunteer application with the LVFD to be an EMT. I would not have even thought about that before this year. And I know (well, I know NOW) there’s a physical exam, but who says I can’t start doing stairs and lifts today and get ready?

Maybe I’m just riding a high from getting through Med-Surg I. Maybe I just have more unstructured time now (Jesus, I need a job this summer****). Maybe all this blue-sky daydreaming is my way of procrastinating on all the plain hard textbook reading I should be doing for mother-baby. Well, even if it is, I think it’s a good use of my mental energy. I recommend it to anyone.

* It has to have a loft overlooking the living room so that it’s basically like having a treehouse inside your house.

** On my old commute to Annapolis, I used to drive by this empty field on the Crownsville Road exit. After a while I came up with ever increasingly grandiose plans for a visual/performance art piece to install there and cause traffic accidents.

*** All of my study buddies and lab partners are getting nominated by me, for sure. Where is that best person ballot box?

**** Hey anyone – got a job I could do this summer?

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I’m alive. I don’t really know what to say, or where to begin.

It was a rough summer. I withdrew from the accelerated program – mental and physical health issues – and by the grace of the nursing faculty, I got right into the traditional 2 year program. I might be considered lucky to have the summer off (other than the few weeks I spent losing my hair and mind and whatever in the accelerated program) but it was not a fun time. But that’s over.

Getting the right medication and half a semester later, and so so many other things, here I am working my little butt off to get through the first semester of nursing school. Jumping hurdles and managing anxiety and learning drugs, drugs, drugs, drugs. I have a new family – my student cohort. I spend more time with them than with anyone else. We share so many feelings, and we are open and sharing with each other about everything, pretty much right away. We all come from vastly different backgrounds – military. Moms. Seasoned waitresses, chefs, ballerinas. We come from here, from California, Africa, Jamaica, and many other places. We’re all desperately afraid we’ll be part of the 15% attrition from Fundamentals to Med Surg. (I don’t know if that is the real attrition rate but it’s not far off.)

So, what about my family from before this? I still try to talk to them regularly. I made time to have lunch with Jen and Pam. I called April and Genie to make sure I don’t lose track of them. I made it to a party or two, even though our instructors told us there wouldn’t be time for that. I worry about Thanksgiving & my parents – shouldn’t I be studying? I just don’t feel like I’m going to know until that day. That’s how I feel about everything right now – one day at a time. The only thing that gets planned in advance is Nursing school stuff.

Oh, and of course I got married, duh. Maybe that deserves its own post?

When I take the time to pick up the Nikon and take some photographs, I really really miss it. But since June that’s maybe gotten 20 minutes of my time.

There are plenty of random thoughts. Like I thought needles were going to be my biggest fear about this job. That could not be further from the truth. I haven’t given a real person an injection yet, but that will probably happen next week, and it is so at the bottom of my list. These days, for the record, they don’t let you practice on each other. At least not at my school. I hate our uniforms. They are all white. I love my psychiatrist who used to work at a famous psych hospital that I wish I could work at someday, but it doesn’t exist anymore. I love my therapist, who was a Hopkins nurse in a previous life, and who understands all the stuff I bring to her. I mean how lucky am I??

I want to apologize to anyone I speak to in person for the next two years and possibly rest of my life. I am just really excited about everything I am learning so if that is all I talk about, I swear I am not trying to show off. I am just full of information that is shooting at me like a fire hose and trying to make sure I remember it. And it’s all I get to think about, other than the times I am emptying my brain by watching crime dramas.

I am stress eating like a mofo. I have gained 10 pounds since school started. Not loving that, but not sure what to do about it either (and “just stop eating so much!” is not really working). My worst fear is getting sick and having to miss a class or clinical session. I have all my shots but I’m just wondering when the inevitable cold is going to take me out.

We have a budget now based on our single income and we are – learning. My husband (still weird) is trying to eat better, so there are 4 tupperware containers of lentil soup hanging out in the fridge.

I got a Kindle and I love it. I LOVE IT. No regrets there budget notwithstanding. Probably deserves its own product endorsement post as well.

I don’t know if I have missed blogging or what. I guess I don’t know what it means to me anymore, though I don’t want to stop journaling, I should be writing down what I am going through. But this summer when I lost my shit I could not be on the internet. Feeling like a massive failure in public was just too much. I think maybe if I blog though I will be less annoying in person.

Here’s to Exam III, Exam IV, Finals, and Acute Care clinicals at “Baltimore Grace”. December 15th is not that far away… and then maybe I will take three full days to clean this house because right now it is a horrible sty.

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So school started…

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Oh has school ever started. To say that the accelerated program is not a walk in the park is an understatement. It’s definitely more like a walk over hot coals. While people are throwing hot coals at you from secret unseen alcoves.

They are very strict in nursing school – presumably because in the real world, if you are late for your shift and you cause another nurse to have to stay late on their shift, you deserve to be shot. And fired. In whatever order works at the time. Because of this it feels like the course leaders giveth with one hand and taketh away with the other – “We want you to succeed, we are here to help you” vs “ONE MINUTE LATE IS DEMERITS AND SIX DEMERITS YOU ARE OUT OF THE PROGRAM”. But if you stop and talk to a clinical professor for a minute, they will tell you that you can do it, and you’ll be OK, and that 30 seconds of reassurance – well, they mean the world to you when you started day three feeling like you were going to throw up from anxiety.

One of the things I knew would happen with the accelerated program is that I am no longer the “smart girl” in the class. The whole class is smart people. I knew this, and yet, could not quite predict how it would feel. A little like drowning in information I guess.

I mean, all spring I thought, “when things get hard I will just think about my miserable desk job that I hated, and it will renew my energy”. Well I am surprised at how quickly I entertained the idea that maybe that miserable desk job wasn’t so bad. But nothing worthwhile is easy, and I have to remember – and sometimes this is hard – that helping people, caring for people, is what will feed me. Not sure I believe in a soul but feeds my soul, let’s say. Actually, I wish I was religious, because prayer and discussions of a higher being pulling me through hard times would feel pretty good right now.

So if you see me, you can probably treat me like I am Going Through Something, because I think I am. I know I am not the only one who feels this way (already shared “can’t wait to see my therapist” stories with a classmate). I hope our class develops a healthy “never leave a man student nurse behind” mindset.

Some songs that have lifted me from very bad mood swings this week, the start of a Nursing School Playlist if you will:

Come Sail Away by Styx – because singing “CAAAAARRY ON!!” at top volume helps.

Fire and Rain by James Taylor – for possibly the first time in my life, I need the kind of soothing that James Taylor offers.

Shambala by Three Dog Night – because I want to believe that “everyone is helpful, everyone is so kind” right now, because people being mean would shatter the fragile mental health I am working on.

Misfit Love by Queens of the Stone Age – because Josh Homme doesn’t fuck around, and that’s a quality I would like to have. Hearing his voice is like hearing pure ambition to be who the fuck you want to be in voice form. To me anyways.

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The Office Is Done

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Six weeks ago I replaced the carpet, transforming our former guest bedroom into a blank slate for my new home office, with the goal of having a peaceful place for me to study first, stretch out/work out and sew things second. Sorry guests, this means we are slightly less hospitable than we once were. (Though it would be nice to finally use that sofabed as a sofabed for once, after having it almost 7 years!)

I had only a vague idea in my head. I’d been lurking around the Unclutterer Workspaces flickr pool for over a year. And I had some leftover pieces of furniture that had to live in this room whether I liked it or not.

I went to Ikea for two massive remodeling runs. As much as I swore I was not going to go to Ikea for this, I have come to loathe furniture shopping and the Ikea website makes the whole process simple and less loathesome. After a reconnaissance trip (you have to sit on everything first!) I was able to set up a cart that had the locations for everything on the local store’s self-serve shelves and print that and it was a breeze.

Putting it together was less than a breeze and thank goodness for Christie and Jack or I would have broken everything.

I was going to go for a more old-fashioned look, back when I thought I could find the kind of desk I wanted lurking inexpensively in an antique mall. Nope. Modern it is. Originally I was going to go for a futon/loveseat type thing, but I hated everything I looked at and I went to every furniture joint within a 50 mile radius. So I decided to move the toddler-strangler upstairs and get a second chair and create a little seating arrangement.The desk & shelves arrangement is basically exactly what it was on the showroom floor where I fell in love with it.

You can see a 360° picture set on my flickr, just click through below. People with more design sense than me – I welcome suggestions. It’s not perfect – like I wanted to paint the little drawer set white, but got lazy. Nevertheless, I look forward to getting into my studies here. :)

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