Friday, January 28, 2011

The Workspace

In an attempt to blog more, I have stolen an idea from a friend (an idea which she stole as well) with daily suggested writing topics. Said friend and I decided to make this a five day a week occurrence on any given topic. Said friend also chose the most boring topic to start. I'm going to refrain from reposting the list of topics and just go with it. Thanks a lot, S, for choosing "your workspace."

My workspace sucks. There has been a long pause since I typed that. Where to begin? Probably with the positive. I have a great sized cube, an L shaped desk that's a decent size, and cube neighbors who are usually working from home. I'm shoved back in the back corner of the office where there is little traffic. I am usually by myself. I enjoy blasting music in my headphones. It really keeps me going. I love my new Betty White calendar for the year, and I have a photo of my husband and dog, one of my best friend's daughter, and a photo of my best friend's store. I have a map of Europe that I drool over on a regular basis, willing myself there. I have photos of Kyrgyz soldiers. Yes, that's right. 1. I want to go to Kyrgyzstan. 2. I like military uniforms of the wintery wool variety. I have a few cards from a vendor we work with in Kenya.
Since I work with books, they pile up. There is no avoiding this...this is what we do, we all have piles of books. I am also a post-it freak. I won't remember anything unless I write it down. I leave cryptic notes to myself, and there are piles of reminders around me at all times. Should I become old and senile, I will already be used to writing notes to myself. I have always been like this, since I'm a visual person.

So, I'm generally elbows high in things that are made of paper.

The L shaped desk is annoying. I can never decide where to place my dual monitors. For years, I sat in the corner of the L. Since I have a tendency to suffer in silence, it never occurred to me to move my monitor and get myself out of the corner until my shoulder started to bother me from all of the neck craning. I am the type of person (is there a type of person?) that can sit uncomfortably and be so distracted I don't notice it until minutes later. A high pain threshold is to blame. It sounds outrageous, but I can literally sit uncomfortably for a long time.

I'm starting to see the merits of furniture and flat working surfaces as I age. Sitting on the floor is also a habit of mine (outside of work) that I have started calling myself out for in the past few months. When your 15 pound weenie dog is sitting stretched out on the couch while you're on the floor, you realize something is out of balance. My disability kind of feeds into all of this, since I have a delayed sense of feeling, sometimes, in knowing when I'm uncomfortable or should be sitting another way, and since sprawling out on the floor was easier for me when I was a kid with casts on my legs. I could put everything I needed around me and crawl to get whatever else I wanted to use at the time in my room without having to hobble around my bed on crutches. Doing stuff on the floor was a habit that never really went away and was comfortable (I think?) up until recently.

Calling yourself out in your head for these things feels as ridiculous as it sounds. "Why are you sitting on the floor? Why are you sitting like this? Wouldn't your arm stop hurting if you moved your mouse pad?" Sometimes, since I don't have feeling, I don't realize the restrictions of a human body. I always stumble when I try to bend sideways to move around things. (No one's knee moves out to the side...why should mine?) A few times in the past few years, I have thrown out my back for sitting ridiculously. It always happens when I bend my leg out to the side and make a sudden movement the other way to reach for something. The last time I hurt my back for sitting this way was the last straw and the beginning of constant assessment of the way I am sitting. It's annoying. It's also for my own safety. It's also because I came to the realization that this is not an indicator of my inability. The knee-bending was a literal light bulb moment. I'm always asking my husband "does this happen to you in your normal body?" It's a strange place to be after almost 3 decades on the planet. I always made the assumption that my body was to blame, and that there "everybody else was doing it", which was not always the case.

But since getting out of the corner, it has helped some of the neck and shoulder pain I've been having since a stressful holiday travel season. It also helped for me to raise my chair a few inches. I'm always the one in the conference room who sits in the chair and goes rolling because my feet don't touch the ground. I've found I don't always have to be at the lowest setting, and it's more comfortable. Using the side of the L for my mouse keeps my arm upright and on the desk. I still fiddle with the monitors. It could stand to be decluttered in the near future, but I think I'm learning how to sit.

So, in my normal fashion, I have taken a topic and managed to talk about something else entirely. 

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