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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

A Room With A Small View

My space is small. Formerly, a breakfast nook. Nook is a funny word. It is made even smaller because three of its four sides are covered by office furniture. The fourth side is the pathway from the kitchen to the dining room, making the navigable space snug enough to spin in my swivel chair and touch something in every direction.

I sit before a small wooden desk purchased for $30 in 1972 when I left school and moved to San Francisco. There are so many things sitting on top of it, I am left with basically zero desk space and when I need to write checks, or lists, or labels, I have to place my computer keyboard on my lap to make way for the paper.

There is a printer/fax/scanner. Big. Why did we buy such a large one? 

But its finest feature is the wall that I face while sitting at my computer. It is covered with pictures and postcards of things I like. Three reproductions of charts in French – jam making, chocolate and bread. A Man Ray photo, Vermeer’s Woman in a Red Hat, A sheep illustration from the school supply store. A postcard of the French 60’s band, Les Chaussettes Noires, two rhinos, an Ingres odalisque, a Manet, a Bonnard, amusing ephemera images of people dressed as lobsters, and a Chinese acrobat balancing a large pot on his head, a gallery announcement for a Vivian Maier show and one from LACMA, a framed photo of my brother and me in 1961 from his UCLA photography class project. A carefully removed label from a strange bourbon bottle, a $50 Monopoly bill, a cut-out of a fireman holding an axe.

They cheer me. Refresh me when I have to pay bills or work on endless spreadsheets. Or the tax prep. Ugh. I need cheering.

The collection spans years, decades, really. And there is more of it. So much more, filling the boxes and envelopes, the cookie tins from the 1950’s and spilling out in little piles on all the shelves and in all the cabinets around me. I just have to spin my chair.

My 'Hood

Yes, THE Richter scale