Let’s Talk with Diane A.S Stuckart

Handy Little Things
By Diane A.S. Stuckart

I have three desks in my home office.

Do I need three desks? No. Can I get rid of at least one of them? I’d like to but moving them into the office originally was hard enough. Wrangling even the smallest one out again would take a good week or more of packing up and rearranging. Besides, I’m a writer, and desks are a tool of the trade…not to mention handy lounging spots for the requisite cats who must hang out with me. Beyond that, those desks have become personal time capsules of sorts. Every so often, I dig through their drawers and find odd little things that I’d forgotten I had, but for some reason had felt compelled to hang onto. You know, because they might come in handy one day.

One item is a weird screen cleaner-slash-pen that I picked up at a long-ago writing conference. It looks rather like a Sesame Street ™ character with a shock of blue hair you use to brush away the dust from your computer screen. The pen doesn’t work – I’m not sure that it ever did – and one of the cats chewed the pen cap in the shape of feet, so that it doesn’t even stand up anymore. Why I’ve never simply tossed it in the trash, I’m not sure. Maybe because every time I run across it, I clean off my screen with it and think, oh, how handy.

I also have a quarter pint of Fireball cinnamon whiskey that a friend gave me stashed in one desk. It’s been there probably two years now, and it’s still 2/3 full. Good stuff, but a swig at a time is all I can manage. I save it for those late nights writing when I’m falling asleep and need something to jolt me awake again (they call it Fireball for a reason!). Definitely handy! I also have a gris-gris bag I picked up in New Orleans from a Voodoo shop…this while researching my first historical romance back in the 1990s. It’s supposed to bring me good luck (which everyone would agree would be handy).

But the best thing I have stashed away is the cheapo plastic pencil sharpener that I won twenty years ago at a Dave and Buster’s restaurant by playing Skee-ball. If you’re not familiar with this old-style arcade game, it entails rolling a small ball up a ramp and “jumping” it into numbered rings for points. The more points you score, the more tickets come streaming out from the game’s ticket dispenser. Of course, you need hundreds of tickets to trade for one of the big prizes, and that night I only had enough to choose from the top shelf of cheesy rewards. Being a writer, I saw the pencil sharpener sitting with the other knickknacks and thought, how handy.

And, funnily, it really has been. Every so often my husband will whip out a pencil for a home repair project, discover its lead is broken, and call out to the heavens for a pencil sharpener. And, each time, I’m able to triumphantly dig out my D&B sharpener from my desk. In fact, if I were forced to get rid of all the accumulated “stuff” in all my desks, that sharpener would be the one thing I’d fight to keep.

Because it’s, you know, handy.

Do you keep stuff stashed away just in case? What kind of handy things are in your desk?

Comments

  1. Joan Lipinsky Cochran says

    Great column and boy, this was appropriate for me. I keep thinking about getting rid of my third desk — the antique rolltop that is now in my “guest” room. I have two others in my office, one for activities of daily living and the other for work. The rolltop comes into play when I really want to hunker down and write because I love the desk and also there’s an entire queen size bed to spread my papers on. Also, I find lots of fun unexpected things in there … the most recent a hunk of plastic with a shell in it my husband gave me when we first met (he was a grad student and poured left over melted plastic in it from his pile of research materials

    ).

    • Diane A.S. Stuckart/Anna Gerard says

      Hi Joan, glad you enjoyed the column. A memento from the hubby is definitely something to keep. I’m hoping at some point if our remodel plans go thru that I can move the roll top into another room. But I may have to hire someone to do the literal heavy lifting. 🙂

  2. I had a whole collection of those brush-topped pens. I gave them away when we moved, along with lots of other stuff. I’m glad I kept what I did. I still have enough mementoes to clutter the shelves in my new home office, which has two desks. Each item in here is special to me and related to my writing career. These are our treasures.

    • Diane A.S. Stuckart/Anna Gerard says

      Nancy, you are right. Though I have found over the years that the thing I treasure most are old photographs of family that occasionally turn up. LOL if I see another of those brush top critters I’ll grab one for you. 🙂

  3. maggietoussaint says

    This post connected with me from heart to heart. I totally get having multiple desks in your office. The way publishing works where one book is being marketed, another is being edited, and yet a third is being written–well you need all that space to keep the associated items separate. I truly loved the idea of your husband calling out to the heavens for a pencil sharpener. Even though I use fewer and fewer pencils every year, I have small pencil sharpeners in my office, kitchen, and other junk drawers, just in case I need them. “Handy” is a good catch-all word for treasures such as these! As for what I keep handy, its the regular stuff for the most part (can never have too many binder clips) but I have a similar small tool that looks like a micro dust mop that cleans my keyboard and screens, and then there are my stress frogs. They are also small enough to fit in your hand and are actually leather bean bags in a frog shape. I won’t touch them for months, then I start tossing one back and forth between hands and my muse sparks. So, definitely handy.

  4. I keep all kinds of things that clog up drawers until I can’t take it anymore. The thread bits you get with sweaters and buttons for blouses. I toss the thread, but keep the buttons. I don’t think I’ve ever used any, but balk at tossing, because they could come in handy. LOL

    Mary
    M.E. Bakos

    • Diane A.S. Stuckart/Anna Gerard says

      Lol, I’m with you on the buttons, mostly because my mom and grandmother and probably great grandmother all had button jars. I toss mine into my own button jar. 🙂

  5. I stuff and keep all kinds of stuff in my desk. I have an old fashioned ruler, old time white out, scissors, tacks, paperclips, pencils, pens, pins, erasers, Mechanical pencils, protractors, stickers, paper, Lead pencils, rubber bands, what used to be my Grandfather’s swiss army knife(I inherited that when passed away), I have so much stuff in my desk it’s literally falling out of my drawers. I even have wallets, cross-stitch projects, empty containers, purses, old fashioned fan, etc… My prize item is the swiss army knife since it used to be my Grandfathers.
    Please enter me
    Hope I Win

    • Diane A.S. Stuckart/Anna Gerard says

      I have a mini Swiss army knife I bought in Switzerland almost 20 years ago, and it’s handy, for sure. But it’s so nice that yours belonged to your grandfather!

    • Diane A.S. Stuckart/Anna Gerard says

      Sorry, Crystal, no drawing this week but the next BLB raffle will open October 1. And check the weekly posts in case the individual authors offer one. 🙂

  6. Before our recent move, our realtor sent in a home stager who pointed out everything we needed to get rid of before the house went on the market. Since we assumed we’d be downsizing, we ruthlessly got to work, donating a huge portion of our possessions to a charity-based re-sale shop. Now, every so often, I look around for something, only to remember that I had donated it. And the funny thing is, instead of downsizing, we wound up upsizing! My new office is twice the size of my old office and mostly empty!

    • Diane A.S. Stuckart/Anna Gerard says

      Sadly, in our move from TX to FL, my office downsized to a space at least half the square footage of my Dallas office. I’ve not yet recovered from that! I envy you your space!

  7. cherylhollon says

    I had to laugh out loud. I keep all sorts of handy things in the center drawer of my desk. Some are dear to me and as you say, some are very handy. My prize is a lovely white magic eraser that I need now and then. It’s perfect.