I Have An Epic Trash Desk, and I Am a Little Ashamed

I guess I kind of buy the link between creativity and disorder.
Publish date:
March 11, 2015
office, clutter, Mess, Messiness

Sometimes I worry that you guys think I'm getting my life a little too on track, what with my newfound financial stability and responsible momhood and all that. But nope! I'll never be one of those moms on the playground in Park Slope who look like Jenna Lyons and probably always mail their rent checks by the first of the month. (Who am I kidding, those bitches obviously own.)

Anyway, whatever, I am a garbage person and that's fine. For the most part, the chaos is limited to inside my head (and purse). I keep a fairly clean apartment. Every few weeks I have to clean a mountain of clothing off my bedroom chair, but that's about it. My desk, however is a whole different story. It looks like this:


Before I wrote this story, I took to Twitter and asked other people to send me pictures of their messy offices to help me work up the courage to show mine. And people were all like "OH I FEEL YOU GIRL" and sent me a picture of their desktop with like, TWO WHOLE COFEE CUPS on top.

It felt sort of like before I realized people were ACTUALLY seeing a gold-and-white dress when I thought the whole thing was just some kind of weird Internet joke meant to mess with people's minds. Oh no, wait, you actually think that desk is messy?

I would like to mention right up front that my desk is not UNSANITARY. In fact, I get really grossed out when somebody leaves like, a half-empty cup on my desk. My desk doesn't have any food or beverage mess. Nothing is rotting or decaying in my drawers. It's just clutter.

There is a storied connection between a cluttered desk and a creative mind. Mark Twain, Steve Jobs and Einstein were all said to have disaster desks like mine.A recent study showed that clutter can actually drive creativity. "Disorderly environments seem to inspire breaking free of tradition, which can produce fresh insights,” say researchers led by the University of Minnesota’s Kathleen Vohs told the journal Psychological Science. “Orderly environments, in contrast, encourage convention and playing it safe." Orderly environments also apparently encourage healthy choices and generosity, according to the study, but that's beside the point. Clutter 4 lyfe, clean desks drooool and so on and so forth.

Not that I feel any actual pride in my messy desk. A few months ago, Jane thought it would be funny to compare and contrast my desk with Eugenia's (neat orderly) desk to make a contrast between organized Managing Editor types and feral children like me. When she brought it up, I got all butt-hurt and said something like "You know, I actually don't think it's very funny when some people make fun of other people for their messy desks." Then I sat back down and sulked between the piles of books and makeup and weird old resumes for jobs we're not hiring for anymore and stuff. (Please note from this anecdote that I am SENSITIVE about my desk, so please be gentle.)

So yeah, I'm a little ashamed of my mess. But I guess I kind of buy the link between creativity and disorder. Work is the red-hot chaotic center of my life and I suppose what happens in my brain there sort of looks something like my desktop. Not in a bad way, just with everything all smushed together and making weird connections and spilling out over the edges like when I'm still thinking about a story at home and I forget to do some quasi-important household task. Nothing lives in neat boxes, my brain is always stirring everything into an idea gumbo.

I'm sure plenty of creative people have neat and tidy workspaces, that's just how it feels for me. But I'm probably just trying to justify my garbage desk, which Lesley just confessed she's secretly impressed by:

She also gave me the name of this post. Epic trash desk! That should be a band name. Anyway, I usually hate it when people make dumb jokes using the 12-step construction, but in this case I am actually admitting I have a problem, so: My name is Emily McCombs and I have an epic trash desk.

Also, now that we're transitioning away from Say Media, I'm trying to take a small bag of stuff home every day, Johnny-Cash-in-"One-Piece-At-A-Time" style. This is also how I plan to bring home a copy machine.

Now please show me your shitshow workspaces so I can stop dying of shame. Is there a challenger to my trash desk throne out there? Anybody?