Friday, December 10, 2010

Where is Your Office?

            “You need to get out of this house.”

            “I’m fine,” I answered impatiently. I have my office set up in the dining room, and I’m perfectly happy there. For 16 hours a day, my posterior can be found resting in a back-pinching rolling chair that my grandmother wanted to get rid of back in 1983. It was one of the first pieces of furniture we owned when we got married.

            “I bet you won’t be able to stand up straight when you finally get up,” my husband predicted with a frown.

            “You’d lose that bet,” I argued, stifling the involuntary groan of mortal agony that hit when I stood up as straight as Barbie in her packing box. So there. I win. Kind of.

            “How much writing did you get done today?”

            “Not much. I’m having trouble thinking of a topic.”

            “That’s not surprising,” he replied. “You need to be around people to get ideas. Why don’t you spend part of the day at Starbucks? They even have free WiFi.”

            “I don’t think so,” I sneered. I used to shake my head in disbelief at my colleagues who actually got up early enough to stop at Starbucks for the privilege of paying $5 for a cup of coffee. And on a teacher’s salary! That’s just nuts, right?

            What’s even more insane is the fact that a few years ago I bought a green tea frappuccino at the Starbucks inside the Forbidden City in Beijing. I found the irony delicious. Regrettably, that Starbucks is no longer there. Seems the Chinese had some slight problem with what they called the “desecration” of a valued historical site.  Go figure.

            But how many days can you sit in front of a computer screen writing nothing? How long can you suffer for your art by sitting in the torture chair?

            So a few months ago, I decided – all on my own, mind you – that I’d get out of the house for a while and check out my local Starbucks.

            “It’s a great day at Starbucks in Snellville.” (That’s in Georgia. The city motto is “Everybody is Somebody in Snellville” and I swear to you that it’s the absolute truth. If you want to be Somebody, just come to Snellville.) My barista was smiling at me from behind the counter.

            “What can I make for you?” she asked.

            “Tall nonfat chai latte, please,” I answered, smiling for the first time all day.

            “Coming right up.”

            I took the bag with my computer to one of the armchairs and got it out. By the time it was up and running, Bethany had my chai ready. “Thanks, Bethany,” I called to her over my shoulder as I headed back to my chair. She gave me a half-wave, already busy making someone else’s day great.

            Now I nod to the regulars – those people who use Starbucks as a daily office the way I do. I settle in to do some serious writing. When it comes down to it, that $5 latte is the cheapest rent I’ve ever paid – and I can drink it, too! It’s here, in this cafĂ© bustling with people, that I do my best work.

            Even the chairs are comfortable. I’m so glad I thought of it!