Bedside Table

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Christmas 2017

One peek at my makeshift, colorful bedside table is all you would need if you wanted to know my preferences and personality. It’s a big deal for me, a little space to call my own. More than special, it’s a necessity.

I’ve been in transition for a while now. When I set up a cot in my mother’s tiny apartment a year ago, I made it a priority to create a makeshift bedside table out of a plastic storage container. Soon after, I acquired a pretty, pink and white basket to put my important Stuff in.

Having a place for my Stuff was much more than practical, it was calming and comforting. It gave me a sense of ownership and control over my environment when I possessed neither. It spoke. It said, “These are the things that matter to me.” I carefully selected them. I chose them according to their practical, personal, and aesthetic value.

Books were central to the arrangement. My goal was to fit as many as I could, while still leaving room for other objects. I stacked them neatly, spine-side out, beside the basket. Then, inside the basket, I arranged as many as I could fit–covers outward. It was an ongoing process, and it largely depended on my current mood and interests. Spiritual, self-help, and psychology went inside. Poetry and fiction were outside. They were a constant visual reminder of what I was striving for– a life of reading, writing, growth, healing, and self-awareness.

I didn’t read the poetry and fiction as often as I wanted to. I got stuck on the self-help. It was a difficult year. But the others were there waiting for me until I was ready for them.

Because I had no space to write, my bedside table also served as a desk. I kept two containers for writing utensils. There was a decorative, etched glass which held my favorite colored gel pens. Love gel pens. The other was a tiny, blue-painted metal pail. It was for my markers, mechanical pencils, and twist-up colored pencils.

Later, I needed a place for jewelry, so I found a small blue and white bowl with a chevron pattern.

At the front and center was a small stack of writing pads. It included sticky notes and a to-do list pad with the words “happy thoughts” written across the top.

The final touch was art. Behind all the books, I placed a watercolor painting of a beach scene. I made it one day at my daughter’s place after a fun day at the beach.

This small piece of furniture turned out to be more meaningful to me than it had ever been at any other time in my life. I’ve since then dismantled it for what hopefully will be a permanent transition to my new (and first) home.

Reading: Preferences

One of my goals in the coming year is to read more and to make a daily habit of reading.

Deciding what to read has been a challenge for me.

I come across many book recommendations, but in all honesty, I don’t always agree with them.

I’ve always feared this was a liability as a reader, a writer, and an educated person.  However, I’m just now realizing that I don’t have to worry about feeling guilty about not reading something that just doesn’t interest me.

Sometimes I find a subject or genre interesting, but I don’t enjoy a particular author’s writing style, or their perspective is so opposite from mine that I have difficulty appreciating it. I do believe it’s important to be a well-rounded person and to be able to see the world from different points of view. However, I don’t think I’ll be reading much military fiction, romance, or young adult fiction in the near future. They’re just not for me.

I recently came across a free novel by Ernest Hemmingway. Even though I recognize his skill as a writer, I know I’m probably not going to enjoy Islands in the Stream. So I’ll be passing it along.

Preferences are something that I’m going to need to pay closer attention to if I want to succeed in my goal of developing a reading habit. As with any other choice that we must make about how to spend our time and energy, reading material is no different. I’d like to be self-aware and discerning, and I definitely plan on making more conscious choices in my reading selections this year. I am hoping this helps me as a reader, a writer and as a person.