arabesques and coquettes


This is my Viennese door for a week, guarded by a lion and a mystical symbol of some sort that I pretend means, “Kindly fuck off, Jalina is hard at work in here.”


 All of Vienna is splayed out on top of the desk, and my pen reaches from the old town to Yppenplatz, the “Soho” area where I’m staying. My blue pen forms a second river through the city, a secondary Danube. I haven’t actually done any work here. I keep trying to become the sort of person who sits pert and erect at desks and diligently gets work done. But follow me past the ambient lighting (below) and to my bed where I actually do my best work.


The Moroccan lamps turn the rectilinear wall/ceiling space into a Gothic cathedral with arching rib vaults. Blurred arabesques dance along the ceiling, inviting our gaze to dive in and make ripples. I love the play of light here so much. This apartment has a coquette heart; throwing light and shadow like lipstick and spritzes of perfume.


This is my real desk. I felt very guilty about my recumbent lifestyle for years until I read Nabokov’s Speak, Memory, and various interviews in which he unapologetically admit to his recumbent preferences. He didn’t even like to eat at restaurants because he’d rather eat Roman-style, in a triclineum, sprawled on a couch. Me too, a thousand times me too. As for a desk, he wrote on his pillow, beneath which was kept his index cards. He’d flip through them during bouts of insomnia, or take them into the bathroom so as not to disturb his wife. The pillow and the bathroom were his desk as much as anything else. Sometimes my bed, my lap, my hand is my desk. I write notes on my hand when there’s no paper, so it’s my desk and my work both.

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