I started a new job recently. I have a very nice office, with a very nice view. However, I spent the first few weeks there convinced I was dying, with an aching back and an everlasting migraine which included severe nausea.

My massive desk only fits in my office in a way which requires my back to be towards the door. This doesn’t sit well with either my Shui or instinctive lioness-like need to have the best vantage point at all times.

The back on my chair is too low and doesn’t support my upper back or neck. I have damaged discs in my neck and therefore am very fussy about having a chair which reaches the back of my head.

Because of my desk placement, which I can’t change, my chair also sits directly below the air vent. The air vent has signs of mold. Also while gazing disdainfully at it one day, I noticed a number of ceiling panels bloated and stained with water damage.

So this is my very longwinded way of saying that my work environment isn’t the healthiest, physically.

I’m currently on a slow quest to improve it.

One of the first things I did was buy an inexpensive fluffy blanket scarf at a nearby boutique while on my lunch break. When my air vent kicks into overdrive I impersonate my great grandmother and and use it to wrap a babushka around my head, neck and shoulders.

I’ve added a silver framed photo of my son, for obvious reasons. I thrifted the frame at Goodwill. It appeared to be new and I think I paid, $2, maybe $3. Life Lesson – Thrift stores are the best places to buy picture frames.

I also have a little little array of scented hand sanitizers from Bath & Body Works, which I have a love hate relationship with. They are inexpensive when on sale and the mild vanilla sugar scents don’t trigger a migraine. However, I still don’t like hand sanitizers. Before Covid I refused to use them, convinced they were destroying all the good bacteria in the world. BB&W also has a really cute Halloween line. I got a gold skull bathroom soap holder from them last year which I use all winter long. BB&W used to contribute to Republican politicians but since the rise of Donald, the CEO openly declared the Republican party nonsense and has dropped political contributions drastically, giving primarily to Democrats or not at all.

I have noticed that most people at my organization have fancy hepa air filters in their office. I may ask for one at the next staff meeting. But I don’t trust those either and get annoyed by the constant ssssssssshhhhhhh noise they make.

In the meantime I have brought in a luscious baby Monstera plant. Since I have great big sunny windows there’s lots of natural light and it gets nice and warm. I keep the blinds partially closed so it doesn’t get too intense. My goal is to work in a jungle environment and I will keep bringing in plants until you can hardly see me camouflaged among them.

I also enjoy relaxing, ambient noise. I keep a youtube video feed going on one of my monitors and the following are my favorite channels:

I’ll try to add to this last as I discover more.

And that’s as far as I’ve gotten in my office redo. On my list to acquire:

  • A soft cushion for my chair, possibly gel. If anyone can suggest something good, please do!
  • Possibly a new chair entirely, unless I can figure out another way to support my neck
  • A footstool, to raise my feet up off the ground a bit while I’m sitting/working
  • A Persian carpet, so I can pretend I’m either on MTV Unplugged or I’m The Dude. It really ties the room together
  • More plants. Many more plants
  • A little diner curtain to cover the window on my office door
  • Framed art for the walls. Thrift-stores will be my primary source. However there are some historic family photos I’d like to bring in, as a reminder of how far my family has come since my ancestors first came to this country
  • Toys. Yes so many toys

This is actually the subject matter that lead to me writing this post, but I got sidetracked and it took me awhile to get to this point. I grew up in the 80s when capitalism was everywhere. So many movies were about work! Wall Street, Trading Places, Working Girl. There must be hundreds. However, the two working movies that stuck out to me, and also featured people I identified as role models were these two: Big and Jumpin Jack Flash. Not only did I love both of these movies but when I saw Tom Hanks and Whoopi Goldberg’s characters on screen I said to myself ‘When I grow up I’m going to be just like them’. Coincidentally, both of these films were directed by Penny Marshall.

What did they both have in common? Toys.

Tom Hanks character, Josh Baskin, is literally a kid in a grown-up’s body. And he gets a computer job, working for a toy company. When I saw this movie I said, ‘That’s it! That’s what I want to do!’ He got to test toys in his office and his magnificent NYC loft was furnished with a bunk bed, a trampoline and soda machine. I could think of nothing better.

Whoopi, or Terry Doolittle, works for a bank, also working with computers. In both of these movies computers were very new, and not many companies were using them yet, and if they were, it was in a very limited fashion and not many people had the skills needed. Terry’s desk is adorned with little toys and colorful items. Her daily outfits are playful and relaxed, and her apartment is a creative person’s nirvana, filled with little treasures. Again as with Big, I saw her in the movie and said ‘That’s going to be me one day!’ Also in this movie she intercepts a message from a British Intelligence Officer and spends the rest of the film tangling with the KGB.

And I have never strayed too far from my idea of what it means to be a happy and self-actualized adult. I am playful. I march to my own drummer. I own toys! I am colorful. I am relaxed. Though I’m not a boy trapped in a man’s body nor do I tangle with international espionage.

But I do keep my home and work environments colorful, comfortable and playful. And I’m currently on the lookout for the inaugural toy to grace my new office.

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