Step 1: The horror of the desk, oh the horror!
As our job descriptions grow ever more inclusive, the desk must be ever more accomodating. Chaos must be reared higher than before, as measured by inches of potential energy. Use the space above. A new idea? No, you know that, I know that. But design it yourself. You know your own needs, your ergonomics, exactly how far you stretch and yawn, how far you cant over in a faint, how many inches you push back paper to make elbow room, what things you need at hand. In this wooden shelf, I accomdated two realities: my life as a teacher demands two shelves, cognitized vertically -- daily class gear on top, supporting materials below on the lower shelf -- all done up in glowing wood to remind me that these office rectangles once began as flowing organic shapes in a world with no straight lines excepting the flights of subatomic particles of low mass.
In the open space below the shelf, you see a semi-vertical rectangluar surface, canted perfectly to take things demanding doing, and frequently used heavy books. When I am bored, I just randomly open the dictionary and read a word and its derivation, and associatively follow chains of meaning until I'm bored again. When students walk in and see the open dictionary, they know I am serious when I tell them to "look up the goddamned word if you don't understand it." The semi-vertical-leaning-stuff-shelf (the hyphen is your best friend) is free in horizontal space to better adjust to momentary ergonomic needs.
Yes, a yet third semi-vertical surface is present, another book-stand from my ancient days. I can't bear to get rid of it despite that it hasn't yet a well-defined function except to collect official memos from which I will be enacting nothing. Perhaps that's the answer?
Step 2: Typing stand: different yet not utterly distracting
This typing stand dates itself -- the little lip glued on at the bottom allowed just enough room to keep some 3.5 floppy disks, back when they were pretty cool. I never use these anymore, so now the strange elephantine creatures I carved quickly on a whim can be meditated upon. But I do use the lip to keep two stones: one a precious piece of feldspar from my former driveway that my then-3-year-old boy gave me as a gift, and the other a piece of obsidian that I from time to time try to flake into a projectile point.
"Wade, are you a hypocrite?" you rightly ask. You've noticed the stand is a bit lower than the screen. That's because years later I raised the screen higher on yet another custom wooden 3D rectangle thingie. I'll make a new one soon, with better carvings. What should I carve?
Step 3: Satchel/man-bag/writing surface/office survivalist general-purpose tool
This satchel proved very useful because my daily book bag inflates over the week into a bloated evil toad whose maw disgorges a steady stream of reponsibility. Even so, the daily book bag always has room for this mini-bag, which I use as a weekend overnighter briefcase, or a more manageable book bag fit to bring into a coffee shop for an hour or two of pleasant coffe ingestment, reading, and writing....or, in a word, a more psychically manageable carrier. I added this very week (Nov. 15, 2006) two grommets through which is attached a shoulder strap salvaged from an earlier book bag that now holds the anchor for my outrigger. More importantly, I added the incredibly useful clipboard with custom lip. Having stripped the clipboard of its steel spring clip, I riveted board to stachel, and with the lip I now have a comfortable platform for editing pages or resting a heavy book.
If you made the writing surface out of a kevlar and resin material, it could double as a targe or flak protection. Ever since some poor fellow was filled with 15 rounds at the friendly corner store 100 feet from my house, I have pondered that modification. But, no-- you almost never have your book bag handy at the moment of being shot.
When I am accused of being sissy-like with my small satchel, I tell the accuser I use it to carry my bowie knife, chest-hair comb, testosterone test kit, girly magazine, and whiskey. Yet I cannot help but think that the satchel wins the admiration of the occasional metrosexual, and if so, why wouldn't I accept such admiration in a world too often lacking good feeling? --wt