During the Reign of the Oak King
March 1997 – Fall in love with the mother of all destroyed late-Victorian houses. Buy house. Re-construct house. Think graduate school would be a good accompaniment to soak up the spare time.
August 1997 – Rent out previous house to save money. Camp in Victorian house while re-constructing and managing graduate course work. Get fired from horrible teaching job = rejoice/panic.
September 1997 – Get hired to teach college English courses. Produce one poem per week for graduate school. Decide adding a baby would be fun.
1998 – Baby+Victorian House+Graduate School = Not Quite Enough. Sign on to be editor-in-chief of literary magazine. Type twenty page papers with baby on lap while shouting instructions to carpenters.
2000 – Graduate coursework done, time to sit for MFA Comprehensive Exams. Carpenter and painter make great nannies. Think to self – I could pass my exams and write my thesis if I had an office away from baby+carpenter+painter+MADNESS. Ask universe for magic.
March 2000 – Disturbing dream about the Space Shuttle landing in back yard.
April 2000 - Clear day. No wind. Carpenter and crew working. Sudden crack and hair standing up. Giant oak tree splits at the union and comes down – taking out an outbuilding and narrowly missing carpenter. Carpenter stands up, dusts off, grabs chain saw.
June 2000 – Outbuilding now studio courtesy of the Oak King (and State Farm Insurance, but really my carpenter).
And that is how I came to have a studio and office in an outbuilding. The space used to be a one car garage so it’s long and narrow. In my space I have all of my sewing equipment, my desk, plenty of cupboards, and my favorite books. I burn incense and play my music (which ranges from Loreena McKennit to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs depending on the day). I know my good fortune is courtesy of the universe and that my “room of one’s own” where I can do all manner of creative endeavors is rare and precious. My kids are not allowed in there except by invitation. Sometimes they stand on the outside of the doors and look in longingly as I shoo them out to play. Over the course of years I’ve decoupaged the walls with images and pictures - mostly gardens and topiary. I like color so I surround myself with it. I would never use such strong and feminine colors in a family space, but in my own space I can.
On one side there’s the remaining garage and on the other is an apartment where random relatives sometimes live. Glass doors open out into the garden and are framed by roses on one side and a rosemary bush on the other – the inside of my door is painted the exact shade of the roses courtesy of the Home Depot color-match system. My desk is made up of old doors I’ve decoupaged and painted then covered with glass – the legs are wrought iron window guards formed together with tubes in-between to hold rolls of paper. Everything in the studio is re-claimed from somewhere else – my desk was built in trade with my carpenter – he got my old wrecked Mercedes and I got this amazing work space. Because of the work I do I have a super-huge monitor and all kinds of office equipment hidden all over. I didn’t just clean my desk for the picture – I actually usually keep it like that as I get disturbed when things aren’t tidy and neatly organized. I love my space. It’s where my heart beats truest.