birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

The Hand-Me-Down Coffee Table

The coffee table that I look out at from where I lie on the couch is a knockoff Noguchi that was left to me by my ex-husband. He said he'd left similar table with several of his previous ex-girlfriends, and that the next one he got would be real.

The table's wood (or wood-like?) legs are two pieces that are joined at a central pivot, looking a bit like a Calder sculpture. They hinge outward, like a V, supporting an organic-looking, triangularish glass top. According to my ex, the difference between the real and the fake is something about how the legs are carved or fit together. I don't know. I just like the way it looks.

It's certainly not a very kid-friendly table, although I never quite got around to childproofing and somehow our son managed to grow up without having any major incidents. I didn't even realize that the top wasn't actually attached to the base until someone else's kid came over and leaned on the top, toppling it over.

On top of the table are a jumble of things that I really should neaten up before the housecleaner comes. I used to think it was crazy to do prep work before someone came to clean the house, but now I understand: I pay her to clean, not to neaten. I should figure out where these things can go: crayons (some in a zliploc bag); two bottles of paint (had considered using them for a third-grade art project, but couldn't find brushes); kid scissors; toy cars; a stack of unread magazines; a homemade light saber from someone's birthday party; books I aspire to read; various remote controls for various entertainment options; my phone, in a rare moment out of my hand; and a wineglass, just out of reach.

Dear Thomas Wolfe: Yes, You Can

Work. Space.