In My Own Little Corner.

JesterjpgSomething happened to me last month and I’m still struggling to wrap my head around it– my friend Jean offered me the other half of her office. O-F-F-I-C-E. I’m struggling to get my head around it because I am not, by nature, an “office” type. Whatever that is.

I have spent exactly one month of my adult life working in an office– as an intern under Michael Bauer at the SF Chronicle Food Section. And even he fled when I was but two weeks in. To Antarctica, specifically. “The only place on earth without any god damned restaurants,” he joked. At least I took it as a joke.

But you know what? I’m not going to worry about whether I’m the office type or not. It doesn’t matter. I have a specific, carved-out space for writing, which it turns out I very much need. I’ve committed myself to showing up at least four times per week. It means I have to put on pants. It means I have to leave my apartment. It means I have to start writing enough to justify the expense of a writing space.

It’s pretty damned wonderful. And the best part?

IT’S ABOVE A <EXPLETIVE> BOOKSTORE, which means that people who sell used books for a living are my  <expletive-expletive> landlords. How’s that for a <expletive>-great coincidence?

DeskI have my own, dedicated desk, where I eat my lunch and keep important things like heavy foreign language dictionaries from college I cannot bear to toss, stamps, pens, and shiny cardboard tubing that once housed confetti tossed by Rip Taylor?

Every morning, the first thing I do is sit there and write a postcard to someone. I bought a collection of 50– each with an image of a different bird saying something fairly upsetting. I consider that my warm up– so much less intimidating that sitting down to write a proposal. It’s also a good excuse to update my address book.

Book StackHaving an office is also useful because it allows me to take stacks and stacks of books out of my small apartment and put them somewhere that exists by (thanks for selling ’em, Green Apple!) and for the writing of the things themselves. I keep a special stack of them immediately to my right, for two, very simple reasons: 1.) They serve to remind me that I do not completely suck and 2.) Gloria Upson was so very right about books being awfully decorative, don’t you think? The dirty French slang books add a certain <explétif> je ne sais quoi, and The Matter of The Mittens is simply there to remind me that I need to return it to my friend Julie Michelle.

Tea ThingsOccasionally, Jean makes me tea because she is kind and for no other reason. I have brought my own tea things in, but she does not care for my choices. She much prefers the herbal varieties, ones with far less ammonia and rodenticide than I’m used to. Please remind me to add these to my shopping list. And to save my receipts because I can now write off office supplies. Except I’ve had no income for the past year, so I probably needn’t bother because I won’t be paying any taxes. But do remind me for next year. Set an alarm on your calendar. Thank you.

Schubert'sOh, and there’s one more important thing, which I can’t remember if I’ve told you. Remember the memoir thing I’ve spent the past almost-year working on  avoiding melting down over? I had a long, productive talk with my absurdly patient agent and have decided to shelve the mother-<expletive>. I’ve moved on to something more pleasant. A new topic. One that doesn’t make me want to kill myself. I consider this a step in a healthier direction. And it’ll be a hell of lot more pleasant to read. Early stages yet, but I’m working on the proposal. At my office. At least four times a week. And if I’m good, I can treat myself at the Swedish bakery across the street with a slice of fucking Princess cake.


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About Michael Procopio

I write about food and am very fond of Edward Gorey. And gin.
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14 Responses to In My Own Little Corner.

  1. Anita says:

    Seems awfully grown up having a room of one’s own… or at least a room of Jean-plus-one’s own. Congrats!

  2. Liz Ditz says:

    Invite me up for lunch so I can admire your office.

  3. Virgina Woolf posited that a writer needs “50 pounds a year, and a room of one’s own”.

    She was addressing women writers who belonged to the “subterranean of 19th century women writers which Mary Shelley alluded to. In the 19th century, professional women writers were called “scribblers” and ridiculed for the ink stained fingers.

    I believe ALL writers, irregardless of gender must have “a room of one’s own” to create, summon the muse. Getting away from your residence, in a separate place to write is of critical importance.

    Oh dear, I am verklempt to learn you had ZERO income for the last year. Oh vey, boychick, I hope someone performs a mitzvah and you are blessed with financial abundance in your life. You deserve a multitude of wonderful things in your life.

    Michael, if you did not exist, it would be necessary to invent you!

    Kind Regards,

    Colleen Marie-Blanchefleur Whalen

    • I am now envisioning a group of lab coat-clad scientists at Dow Chemicals circa 1970 looking thoughtfully at a test tube held up to the light in their quest to develop…me. So thank you for that.

      The lack of income last year was disappointing, but it was also by choice. I swear it.

  4. julie says:

    Oh, my. Green Apple books, not wanting to kill oneself, bad tea, putting on pants. It sounds so familiar, was I there? Thank you. Some of us, as you are well aware, are still getting up and putting on our pants and going to work and wondering why but can’t quit just yet. Please keep writing missives, even if they are here and there, now and then. Solidarity helps. Kindness with the written word is bigger than (and better than) religion.

  5. MaggieToo says:

    Oh Michael, my heart did a little tha-thump when I saw the Green Apple mascot in your top photo. That was one of my favorite refuges when I lived in San Franicsco 20+ years ago, and I’m so pleased to know it’s still there. And now, with you right upstairs!

    One little amusement: when I Google-mapped Green Apple, the street view photo had the face of the wooden mascot pixelated out. I guess you can never be too careful.,+San+Francisco,+CA+94118/@37.7829747,-122.4647161,3a,75y,3.2h,90t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1sa33qrghIJEMzKHubM5OE1A!2e0!!7i16384!8i8192!4m13!1m7!3m6!1s0x8085873c6cb138ff:0xa48cf7bca9d6e951!2s506+Clement+St,+San+Francisco,+CA+94118!3b1!8m2!3d37.7831919!4d-122.4647031!3m4!1s0x8085873c6cb138ff:0xa48cf7bca9d6e951!8m2!3d37.7831919!4d-122.4647031?hl=en

    • How strange. Do you suppose they developed a program that first recognizes faces and then subsequently blurs them? Whatever will they think of next?

      Also, I should clarify that my office is not above Green Apple, but above the Green Apple annex, which may be the more important of the two buildings, because it houses the break room and toilet.

  6. Susan says:

    God bless Jean! Sounds like this is exactly what you needed – a place to call your second home.

  7. amanda says:

    so happy for you, my heart always lifts when I see a post from you.

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