messy-deskI returned from the trip to California with a fresh lease on inspiration. Spending time with creative people has an infectious quality, and I felt a surge of wicked energy surging through my body as I arrived home. I later realized that that surge was just my crappy knee acting up after sitting on an airplane for several hours, but that’s neither here nor there. When observing The Author’s enclosed work-building I like to call the Kiosk of Chaos, when I saw him interact with writers and watched the exchange of ideas being bandied about, it made the whole concept of writing seem less solitary than it feels at times. As someone who thrives in social settings, I find it maddening that in order to come up with halfway funny essays, I essentially need to be alone. I’ll roll out to the shop, start about three different carpentry or welding projects and bounce some ideas off the cats, but mostly they just stare back and look as though the only thing keeping them from murdering me is a lack of opposable thumbs. They really are no help at all.

I come back into the office and think some more about what you and I might find humorous. I’ll waste time on Facebook. I’ll make the bed and another pot of coffee. All of these are solitary pursuits, despite the tank filled with disgusting mutant fish that sits next to my desk. So, in a nutshell, yeah, it was great to be able to go out of town and watch these folks in motion. I came home all spun up to write, and then, as I crossed the threshold into my office it hit me.

I could totally qualify for the show “Hoarders”.

This show, on A&E, examines the lives of compulsive hoarders and their disgusting environs, usually filled with all manners of detritus and pet waste. There are no pets in our house at the current time (save for the nuclear-blast-survivor-looking fish) and there is no human waste of which to speak in the office, so I’ve got that going for me. What on earth I need all those cardboard boxes for is a mystery (kindling for the shop stove). A knee brace (in case it hurts), old telephone books (good for target practice), a childs’ guitar (for when the mood strikes them as I’m playing), back issues of Classic Trains and Esquire (weird tastes, yes) and a half-full flask from a recent wedding all catch my eye as I enter. The Wife won’t even come in without good cause, and I don’t blame her. Maybe this is a subconscious way of keeping out intruders; they’ll be so baffled by the chaos, they’ll choose to loot other places in my home. Plus, they probably have all the cardboard boxes they could possibly use.

My sense of shame is usually defeated by laziness, though; I wait until I begin to step over things to get in here before I declare it a disaster scene, thereby qualifying for federal aid. I have yet to hear from the government as to their helping me in the cleaning up the disaster scene, and thus the cycle continues and next thing you know there’s an empty cough drop bag taking up residence on the floor, not three feet from a trash bin. When the disaster scene relief team (in the form of the National Guard) fails, again, to make an appearance, I briefly consider lighter fluid and a match as a means of office renewal. I could get over the loss of the mutant fish, but I don’t know if I could ever replace the apparently priceless hose clamp that’s decided to live on my desk for the past three months. It’s become a part of the family.