BEB #6: My Desk in 15 Objects

by Sienna Brancato

1) Reading Lamp
Confession: your battery died last year, and I never replaced it.

2) “Espresso Patronum” Mug
You have served me well on many late nights and early mornings. 

3) Jack the Bulldog Stuffed Toy
Mysterious crushed left eye, a gift from a high school friend.

4) Packets of Multivitamins
I don’t take you nearly as often as I should. 

5) An Empty Cardboard Box of Instant Oatmeal
I think my logic is that if I leave the empty box there long enough, then I will remember to buy more oatmeal. Disclaimer: It has been there for two weeks.

6) Container of “Empowermints”
For before exams or on difficult days when I could use a bit of strength.

7) Half-finished Jar of Peanut Butter
The result of stress-eating by the spoonful during midterms.

8) Poe’s Prose Tales
A collection of short stories that belonged to my grandfather. I read it as the first anniversary of his passing approaches.

9) Neon Green Paper Airplane
Gift from my 8-year-old cousin when he came to visit last week.

10) Orange Major-Declaration Form
Still waiting to be returned to the Dean’s office. Why can’t I make myself do it?

11) A Few Old Copies of the Voice
Because it’s nice to look back on something you’re proud of.

12) Blue Bossier Hat
Shameless plug.

13) Leather Journal
Thoughts, lines, musings, observations, and more blank pages than I would like. 

14) Dry-erase Calendar
I haven’t updated you since the first week of September. Whoops. 

15) Alarm Clock
Through no fault of your own, you’ve woken my roommate many times (sorry for never hearing you). 

I use my desk primarily as storage space, instead choosing to do homework while sitting on my bed with my husband pillow (I recently learned the uncomfortable name for this trusty, supportive friend). As a result, random objects tend to pile up on top of it, but I’ve never been one who’s bothered by clutter. 

My bedroom at home contains perpetually scattered book piles (I swear, they’re organized. It’s just that no one else is privy to my bizarre and convoluted organizational methods) and miscellaneous debris gathered over the years. 

Since coming to college, I feel this compulsion to have my life together all the time, which can translate into a need for organization and neatness. Of course, this is not to claim that all college students keep their rooms neat, but that neatness is a symbol of success. The logic follows that if you can keep your room tidy, your whole life must be together, too. Subsequently, I feel guilty if my side of the room gets messy or if clutter takes over my desk. 

But it’s not always realistic to try to keep your life together—your schoolwork perfect, your extracurriculars rigorous and strategic, your social life robust and satisfying—or your room neat and tidy at all times. There has to be some allowance for mistakes, some permission given to breathe and to let things go and to slip up and to rest. 

Nothing against compulsively neat people, but I am just not that way, and I never will be. Even the smallest and most seemingly insignificant object can hold significant meaning, depending on where it came from. I prefer to leave a trail behind on my desk, the story of a semester already half-spent. 

I’m sure my roommate would love to hear me say this, but I’m advocating for an embrace of the messy, the untidy, the collected, the left unfinished, the not yet done, the never will get done. Take joy in the mundane. Take a second to look through the piles of accumulated debris, and save things. Sometimes messes don’t need to be fixed. There are things I want to remember. 

Michele Dale