Sunday, April 29, 2007


On Thursday afternoon, my company packed up our offices and left the Time & Life Building forever (as tenants). I've been in mourning for the past month or so. Not for our floor, which to be honest, was falling apart--it was scheduled to be renovated about a year ago, but the sale came through and the renovation was cancelled, of course. Not for my office, even though I'll be moving into a cubicle (the offices are apparently nicer, but also smaller). Not for no more free Time Inc. magazines (no more People and Entertainment Weekly!). Not even for no more Time & Life cafeteria. I'll miss all that, but what I'm really in mourning for my commute. I've walked to work every morning through Central Park for over two years (my route is highlighted here), and I've cherished it. Every morning, rain or shine or snow, I've walk down The Mall, and it's an incredibly calming, beautiful way to start each day.

I could never predict what I'd encounter. Here's a picture of a fog on The Pond from a year ago:

And a snowy day picture:

Earlier this month I savored seeing a swan on The Pond:

and then the next day saw two raccoons in a tree in The Mall:

On Thursday morning I made sure to leave the office early to savor my walk. It was the perfect morning.
I made sure to stop and smell the flowers.
My new commute will be walking down 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and Lexington. Not exactly the most beautiful walk, but I'll have to adapt. And I'll have to get to Central Park as much as I can on weekend.

Last week was spent purging my office, trying to cut down on paperwork, considering that we'll have less storage. It was a trip down memory lane, finding papers and cards and art samples and looking through old book files and correspondences. It's hard for me to throw things away. I always think that someday I'll wish I still had the item. Classic pack rat reasoning, I know. But I'm not so down on myself after reading A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder--How Crammed Closets, Cluttered Offices, and On-the-Fly Planning Make the World a Better Place by Eric Abrahamson and David H. Freedman. A few bloggers were talking about this topic a while ago, because there was a NY Times article about it. One of my favorite analogies in the book is about the organizer who used the example of how much more quickly someone can find a specific card in a deck when it's organized. However, if you took into account the time it takes to organize that deck, it isn't worth it anymore. And furthermore, what use is a deck of organized cards? You have the shuffle them to play a game. I know this is simplistic, but I like it. And anyway, I think I'd work better in an office that looks like this:
than an office that looks like this:
Of course, it's all about balance, and I certainly occasionally run into the problem where my mess is so overwhelming that I find it hard to find things. But in general, I know where things are in my cluttered desk, so I'm going to stop giving myself a hard time about my mess. It's my perfect mess.

We go into the new office today at noon, and today will be spent unpacking. We've only seen artist renderings and layouts so far, so I'm looking forward to seeing our new home. Pictures of the new place to come!


Anonymous said...

It's always hard to leave a place with good memories and a happy routine! Happy "office-coming" and may the new place offer the same kind of good feelings!

roz said...

What a beatiful route you had. Sorry that you'll have to let it go. I was in NY recently and missed getting to visit Central Park. Next year!

gail said...

What a wonderful trek to work! It's a place I've never been to, but hope to go to some day.

"The Perfect Mess" sounds like it was made just for me. I love the deck of cards analogy. I'm going to have to remember to use that one! It seems like right after I clean things up I can’t find anything.

Good luck with your move. Hope you end up with a cubicle with a view!


Rampian said...

I have a feeling Central Park is the only thing that keeps Manhattanites sane. It's the one thing I miss most about New York---Central Park and the Met (though the Met is IN Central Park, so maybe they count as one thing?) Your courageous sharing of a messy office has inspired me to place a photo of MY messy office on my blog. Yes! Who says those hyper-organized types do better work? Long live the messy disorganized types! Life is messy doggone it! --Abigail (editor at Tricycle Press)

Greg Pincus said...

May you quickly make your new office the perfect mess for you, Alvina. And the new commute... undoubtedly joys will be found there, as well, since you strike me as someone who always finds a way to truly see the world. Even through a mess.

Rita said...

Nice, illustrative photos.


Elaine Magliaro said...


I love your photos of Central Park.
I hope you get acclimated to your new surroundings soon. You'll have to show us your new route to work.

fusenumber8 said...


I'm going to miss that place. Sure, you had to walk through a metal detector just to get upstairs, but the view! The walk! The cool photographs on the wall!

Here's hoping your new home is just as cool.