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2.9.04 No more office across town

For my whole career, I'd always had small offices. I despise office ostentation and my feng shui does not require cherrywood to keep my energy flowing.

But my feng shui does require lots of colored file folders, bright Post-Its and sparkly pens. As I combed through 8 packed file drawers in the office I was abandoning, I methodically separated the manila folders (the company's) from the colored ones (mine). Isn't that a funny way of "separating" from my job? On the one hand, it feels incredibly cheap. But after all, I am starting my own business and office supplies don't grow on trees (well, so maybe they do... but not outside my back door). And doesn't everyone in an office want crisp new folders anyway? My colored ones are worn at the edges, tabs bent and frequently re-labeled, the older ones faded. I like them. I like reusing them.

I have way too many pens. I could fill a shoebox with them. All that expressive potential...

And the books. I always bought my own books for work. It was a way of saying that I was in charge of my own education. My company was not letting me borrow its knowledge. I bought the books. I studied the books. I let them borrow my knowledge. Then I quit and took all my knowledge with me. Ha!

I'm not sure how I could have accumulated so many books in such a small office. I carted them home gradually in my blue canvas tote bag and they sat in stacks in the middle of my ground floor study. Gradually, I sorted through them. About fifty percent of them went to the For Sale shelves next to the washer-dryer. Some of them were just too trendy -- 6-week management bestsellers now hard to sell for a dollar. The other books on big corporate strategy -- bye-bye forever.

The books I kept were full of grand concepts I'm not done with yet. I'd tell you what they are but I'm too lazy to go check. I may be keeping them, but I still have no shelf space for them. They have been moved from the center of the floor to more compressed space under a table. I had the notion to go look for something the other night, got down on my hands and knees and realized I'd have to move stacks of Joseph Conrad novels and bird identification books from all the countries Jim has visited. Couldn't have been that important...

This was the great challenge of my first few days of retirement: integrating my work stuff with my home stuff. I no longer had to organize myself around moving between two places. This 3-story townhouse is everything now: home, office, workshop, studio. I was surprised at how disturbing the sensation was. Not horrifying, but jarring.

In addition to the books and office supplies, I had an extra TV and VCR, extension cords, power strips, office toys. I felt good but there they were all looking so homeless and displaced.

As of today, everything is put away. The ground floor study is tidy and ready for business. And I have found a bag that I take between my two studies -- ground floor and first floor. It contains my notebooks and a set of colored gel pens. It goes downstairs with my cup of coffee for my quiet morning ritual, then back upstairs with me for the rest of the day. Just like going to work.

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