Pimp My Desk

8 Nov

About six years after I started working in this library I decided I needed a change. In the spirit of Xzibit’s Pimp My Ride, I endeavored to do the same thing with my desk, except on a budget and sadly with less underglow. I wanted to spruce up my environment in a way that would make me excited to be at work. Or at least, you know, help my enjoy my time here even if I’d rather be back in bed snuggling with my husband, my 25lb cat, and my then-baby Isobel.

If you share a workspace with other people (librarians, I am looking at you) then you might not be able to pimp the whole desk. Maybe only a corner. Maybe not even that. As a solo librarian, however, I make up for the fact that I do all the work by decorating my desk however I damn well please. I have an office but I never use it, instead preferring customize the hell out of the circ desk.

Part of the reason it took so long for me to get around decorating my desk is that I hate clutter. I hate that you have to take care of clutter and that most of the time it serves no real purpose. But what I do love is cuteness. And I decided that if something is cute and it’s making me happy, it is serving a purpose. There’s got to be a way to satisfy both my minimalist inclinations and my desire for cute.

This is what I came up with.

1. Photo Gallery: Hardly a novel idea, but still the best way to decorate your desk. Instead of buying frames I just taped my photos directly to the corkboard of the circ desk. I put them all at even spaces so it didn’t look cluttered. Although about 80% of the photos are Isobel-related, I was sure to include photos of Anthony and my friends and family. It’s nice to be reminded every once in awhile that being a mother isn’t the only thing that defines me. Students and coworkers love looking at the photos and asking me about it. In particular, this one of me and David at Halloween:

That’s right! A photo with me and a man! Who is not my husband! It should be noted, however, that 1. Anthony took this photo, and 2. David and I play for the same team. Not that I tell anyone at work that. I let them wonder. More fun that way.

2. Custom Motivational Posters: actual motivational posters are so terribly earnest and dire and frankly, full of shit. “Hang in there, baby”? THAT KITTEN COULD USE A LITTLE HELP, YOU CRUEL BASTARDS. I decided that since motivational posters are so awful I really needed to make my own. And you can too! For free! Here! I made the zombie one first and it’s been linked to from all over. I think it really resonates with the Zombie community. The other one is just a photo of my cat’s butt with the words “persistence” written below. It’s my Dadaist homage to motivation.

There’s always the pure joy of finding vintage motivational posters such as this and this and this. Don’t let a misguided sense of propriety stop you from displaying one of those beauties.

3. Terrariums: there is nothing sadder than a fake office plant. It’s usually full of dust and gum wrappers and very confused real spiders. The best way to combat the Dull Office Plant? Terrariums! Duh. My library doesn’t have the best light levels, but my small spider plant seems happy enough. If you live in an area where moss grows freely (I don’t) that’s about the best terrarium office plant around. It’s happy in a moist, covered jar and won’t mind fluorescent light levels. Don’t forget to add a little terrarium pal. I added a hippo.

4. Knickknacks: although I am ruthless in my stance against clutter, I have made my peace with some adorable paperweight-sized knickknacks. They make me smile and amuse the children. Melynda gave me these cute mushroom guys, I found this ridiculous bell (it matches my ridiculous mug!), and Angela gave me this gnome riding a beaver. I get a lot of compliments on them. Actually I get a lot of questions about the gnome. Mostly: “What animal is he riding?” To which I reply, “I will tell you when you’re older.”

5. Ridiculous mugs: these are one of my favoritest things to shop for. Like, ever. There’s nothing like going to a thrift store and finding a mug so weird there is no possible explanation for it. Or the explanation itself is as weird as the mug. I have collected a set of weird mugs for work that I am very proud of. It includes: Li’l Ricky, Star Trek (it was a present from Santa in the seventh grade. I was a nerd even then), “Love Brings Rainbows” (with matching bell!), and 70s flowers. Now that Anthony is starting his new job he’s requested that I build up a ridiculous mug collection for him. I can’t wait.

click photo for the story of li'l ricky

6. Mouse pad: this was the only item I really spent any money on. And even though it’s an adorable Jill Bliss mouse pad from etsy, it was still quite affordable. It looks a little worse for wear these days, but I still love it.

If your desk space is pimped and adorable, or if you desperately need Xzibit to come and make over your space, post a link to a photo of your workspace in the comments. I’d love to see what your desk looks like. If enough people want to pimp their desks and show off the results, we can make a group on flickr to celebrate our awesomeness. Fuck yeah!

(And just for my husband:)


14 Responses to “Pimp My Desk”

  1. Dan November 8, 2010 at 9:15 am #

    The corkboard along the desk is great! I just assumed my boss’ role and with it her office (I now technically have TWO offices in the basement to myself, which is sort of lonely), so I pimped mine out a bit too. The desk itself has the obligatory pictures of my son (though not my wife: suspicious), a photo of me and the brewery guys and some Bone figurines. Oh, and Ho-oh. Because I’m still 14 inside.

    (You’ll notice the picture, which looks remarkably crappy all things considered, includes a shot of me replying to this post. Because I’m fucking meta.)

    My favorite part of my office is on the wall to my right, though, which is a signed print of this xkcd strip. It’s either hilarious or completely unintelligible, depending on whether or not you know SQL.

    • LittleBig November 8, 2010 at 10:59 am #

      LOVE IT. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Cookbook November 8, 2010 at 11:08 am #

    Love your workspace. LOVE IT.

    • LittleBig November 9, 2010 at 6:46 pm #

      THANK YOU! I wish I would have taken before pictures. It was damn depressing.

  3. Gen November 8, 2010 at 11:58 am #

    Oh, the motivational posters! Love your take on them. My now husband had a real one when we first started dating, and I told him “this may be a dealbreaker.” Poof! No more motivational posters.

    • LittleBig November 9, 2010 at 6:45 pm #

      Dude, I LOVE that that was a deal-breaker.

      (And that he gave them up for you. How romantic!)

  4. dingey November 8, 2010 at 2:44 pm #

    I need, desperately, to pimp my workspace. However, I always tend to err on the side of clutter, even in my unpimped workspace. I’m a little thrown at how COMPLETELY unpimped most peoples’ workspaces are in my current office. My little series of abstract expressionist masterwork postcards that I’ve managed to tack up have already confused one or two people….

    • LittleBig November 9, 2010 at 6:45 pm #

      I hate to break it to you, Dingey, but those people are probably robots.

  5. Marie November 8, 2010 at 2:59 pm #

    Suitable inspired. I’m convinced my writing goes not well because the feng shui (which means lack of pimp in Chinese) of my desk is off. Plus, I just found out that, as a freelancer/ sole trader, I can write off expenses like desks and assorted desk-pimp products.

    • LittleBig November 9, 2010 at 6:44 pm #

      “which means ‘lack of pimp.'”


  6. Shelby November 27, 2010 at 5:08 pm #

    (In the same annoying yet excited spirit that one comments “FIRST” in, I’ve so been there–that library.. okay, moving on from that now…)

    I love, love, love your desktop background. As someone with an English degree (where people corner me and ask me to spell stupid words and then say–“You have en English degree so you should know, right?”), I love it when I meet other people who loves reading (and talking about reading) as much as me. But I’d say a librarian wins the reading battle in this one, though. 🙂


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