Writers' Rooms: Rebecca Rosenblum

I have what I’m supposed to want now—a room of my own. It even has a big sunny window, a napping futon, a bookshelf, and a closet where I can hide all my messy files. It’s a lovely room but, meh, I’m not that crazy about it.

I’ve spent my adult life with my desk in the living room. Actually, for a long while, the living room was also the bedroom, dining room, and everything else. Even after I got a multi-roomed apartment, I often ate meals at my desk while noodling away at a story, talked on the phone at my desk while the story glared at me, read, goofed off, watched videos and pretty much everything else at my desk. Honestly, I almost never used my dining table or my couch unless I had company. Writing was the background, the theme, and the alternative to everything else I did at home.

But now that I live with my husband, I have to have some boundaries, some parts of the day that are exclusively for one thing or another, and some parts of the apartment to go with those. Even though we are both writers and both semi-obsessive about it, I don’t think regular attempts to eat meals at my desk would go over very well. Hence my nice office and his similar one, down the hall.

It’s only been a year, but so far I haven’t really adjusted to the setup. Just as I want to be writing while I’m doing almost anything else, as soon as I start writing I want to do all the other things, too. I get lonely in my office, not because I mind being alone, but because I know my husband is here, as well as our cat, and I don’t want to miss out on what they are doing. I come wandering out, ostensibly to get a snack, to find everyone peaceful in the living room—the room for life activities—and I try to make idle conversation while ignoring that a) I’m interrupting a good book/nap and b) I’m supposed to be writing. When I get too embarrassed, I get my snack (usually breakfast cereal) and go back to my lonely chamber.

I know where this is heading, because I have seen these genes play out before. It seems to me my father spent most of my childhood in the half-lotus in our living room with a stack of essays to grade on his knee. Upstairs, his huge gleaming wooden desk sits unused except as a resting place for the pencil cups and paperweights I made him at school, which he never used. He allegedly shares that office with my mother, who offers even less pretence of using it—her desk doesn’t even have a chair. She does all her work at the kitchen table, within clear sight of my father in the living room (they took down the door).

So, um, yeah. Will I learn to appreciate my lovely office? Well, I’m typing here now, which is a good sign. But I can hear my beloved making some sort of interesting noise in the other room…I’ll be right back.