05 February 2015

Best Nest You

I can't think of a better way to maximize the value of a space than to fill it with books.  Knowledge is the first step on every road worth traveling (says the erstwhile epistemology student).  And though e-readers seem like an excellent development, power can fail, and they still haven't managed to back up every obscure volume, so I think investing in bound books is still worth your while.  I say this also as a heavy annotator.  Annotation is my way of responding, often over miles, and through centuries, to an author, which makes the enterprise of reading more than a mere academic pursuit, but a social one as well.  Books are like geocaches of theses, waiting to be unearthed and tested.  So dig in!

They also create a welcome, colorful aesthetic.  And each one is indexed to memories, whether to the provenance of an individual volume, or resonating with associations to authors, subjects, and ideological movements.

My book space is lit by lantern planets and string light stars. I work best with a single, desktop spot lamp, focused on my work, in a dark room.  Before bed, I read by the light of a single string of star lights.  I even have a Moon In My Room, thanks to my brother, Peter.

Welcome to my space.  As I've just cleaned, I'll give you a little tour.  Above is my work desk.  Yes, I do have two green laptops.  You can never have too many green laptops.  The green, wing-backed chair belonged to my great grandmother.  My mother, and now I, have taken to calling it the "over the river and through the woods" chair, owing to its brocade pattern, and its grandmotherly provenance.  In that corner are adult and children's literature, poetry, plays, and philosophy.
This bookshelf is dedicated to the blog, containing volumes on applied ethics, all matters domestic, and the fledgling philosophy of home.
The Hunt and Hearth bookshelf is next to my nest, which is surrounded by string lights and bed curtains.  I think everyone should circumscribe their sleeping space with bed curtains.  You really know you're in your sleeping space with gauzy bed curtains.  On my bed I have a blanket from each of my grandmothers, a blanket from my mother, one from my best friend, a husband pillow, and a boyfriend pillow, so I am well-tucked in.  Above my head is a mixed media piece by my youngest sister, Abigail, inscribed with the words, "Shimmer give you joy."  That piece stays above my bed wherever I live and indeed gives me joy.
Next to the bed is my history and public policy bookshelf, which also contains my Berenstain Bears boxes.  Ever since I read The Berenstain Bears and the Messy Room, I've wanted to have boxes with labels on them just like theirs.  They're a little worse for wear, but now I have Berenstain Bears boxes.  Above the history shelf is a pen and ink drawing by my brother, and my bag of tools, because sometimes I fix things with tools and install things like bed curtains.
Next to the history and public policy bookshelf is the closet.  To get more use out of this space, I took the doors off the closet, with tools, and shoved most of my clothes, except for the prettiest dresses, into green bins, and then fit two short bookcases into the closet to hold biographies.  In my opinion, biographies may be more entertaining than novels.  I learn a lot from real lives, especially the lives of women and political figures.  I hope to post reviews of some of my favorite biographies in the future.

A shoe rack rests on top of the biography bookshelves.  I enjoy being able to see my shoes.  They put me in mind of future parties and dances, and remind me that sometimes homework is better when done in heels.

I also found that pounding small nails into the closet wall, again with tools, is an excellent way to store long necklaces and statement pieces, to avoid tangling.  I haven't seen the jewelry armoire yet which can rival this method of storing larger pieces.
On the other side of the closet is my secretary, a desk devoted entirely to keeping me organized.  I make my own calendar pages, and display three at a time, which allows me to see an entire semester at once--to remind me of break, if I'm mid-semester; or to remind me of impending responsibilities, if I'm mid-break.  A longer view of the of the year is both better for planning and better for hoping.  This wall serves as a giant bulletin board too, with lists of things-to-do and papers-not-to-be-lost.  The mugs are gifts from dear ones which have gone the way of all gifted coffee mugs--long since dropped and shattered and glued back together and gamely holding colored pencils and markers and pens.

And finally, two more bookshelves.  Nearest the door are my school books and science books, and then a smaller shelf for reference books and foreign language books.  My grandfather made the heart shelf, which helps me get out the door, appropriately accessorized.  The painting on the left is by my best friend.  She made it in high school before we knew one another, yet its depiction of a blonde girl practicing the violin astutely represents my childhood.  My sister Ruth painted the castle in elementary school and I've been fond of it ever since.  I imagine walking up that lawn, after a long day, to its turrety keep.

Photojournalist Roderick Field is credited with saying "[h]ome is the canvas on which you are free to paint your wildest and most beautiful dreams."  This is my one-room version.  In a slightly larger version, I would add a microscope and other noninfectious laboratory paraphernalia, a quiet place to write music, room to grow and serve food (for more on urban agriculture, see my friend Lindsey's blog, Necessity Is the Mother..., and Dickson Despommier and Vincent Racaniello's Urban Agriculture podcast), room to dance, have parties, and perhaps nest guests.  Stay tuned for future incarnations of my home "canvas."

This is a space where, surrounded by favorite books, artwork, and gifts, I remember to love and that I am loved.  And recharging in love, this is a space I can venture forth from, a more engaged, productive, and loving member of society.  Build the nest, the home around you, that makes the best you!