I once blogged about my writing practice and process, and I feel this is a nice dovetail: my writing desk and space. We all need to carve out our own little nooks in this world, and this tiny corner is mine.
This where I do all my writing: all my short stories, all my blogging, and all my freelance articles are done here, including a little doodling and reading now and then. I decorated it like this because I think it reflects me and my personality best. Some people prefer really modern, sleek, office-y, stainless-steel-type designs, and others prefer a kind of non-descript, antiseptic look. But I wanted my space to be peppered with all of the things that inspired me, visually and spatially, and all the things that really mean something to me.
For example, these are my Lebanese grandparents making-out on their front porch in Montreal circa 1948. I typed out that Bukowski quote on my typewriter. All the picture frames were bought from London flea markets, but a few I found discarded on the sidewalk. Who throws out gorgeous picture frames?!
That photograph in the foreground of the two 1920s women pushing the pram: I have no idea who they are. I found them discarded on the flea market grounds in Brussels right before the sky opened up and an incredible tempest washed everything away. I feel like I saved them.
Those are Belgian telegrams, and also some French postcards ad German letters, which I bought from their respective flea markets. I typed out the quote at the bottom, and I found the image of the typewritten quote at the top online and then printed it out on photographic paper at a pharmacy in London.
I got the antique iron keys from a friend who bought them for me when I was living in Copenhagen. I typed out the Dumas quote, and it sits on a small blue photo album from the 1940s that I bought in Paris. The vase & saucer I got at a London flea market, and the typewriter ribbon tin I bought at the Brooklyn flea.
The pill bottles in the foreground I got at a flea here in Toronto. The red-cover books in the background are all travel guidebooks from the 1920s, 30s, & 40s. It’s so interesting to read about “where to find a public bathhouse in London,” or about how many Francs you can get for your Crowns, Half-Crowns, Shillings, and Sovereigns. There’s even a section on why French customs strictly prohibits British matches from entering the country, but you can bring your own cigarettes. Also, air travel was so new, that they don’t really mention it. They only mention taking the ferry from Dover to Calais! The guidebooks have fold-out maps and even photographs. Looking at Amsterdam then and comparing it to now is such a mind-fuck.
That’s a Bukowski quote.
I bought that cigar box from a flea market in Düsseldorf. I put all of the small monochrome photographs that I bought from flea markets around Europe in there. A note about the photographs: I don’t know the people. I am assuming they’ve all passed, seeing as how their personal family photo albums were for sale on flea markets. I buy them because they look so happy. I like their faces. Also, sometimes going through private photos reveals some interesting secrets, as I wrote in an essay for VICE recently … And if they’re not in the cigar box….
… they’re hanging on my wall. From left to right, I bought him in Brussels, him in Copenhagen, and her in Paris.
That babe second-from-right is my Mum when she was 18. The rest, left to right, Brussels, Brussels, Berlin, and the child on the right is from Amsterdam.
These ladies are so old, they’re beginning to fade, but I love them all the more because they’re so bad-ass. On the left, I bought them in Paris and on the back it’s dated June 18, 1929. On the right, I bough her in Brussels, it’s dated August 18, 1922. She’s so fucking cool, I can’t even. I’m all out of evens.
Bought both from Brussels. Street scenes and street photography from the early 20th century are so amazing to me. I love the composition of the left photo! Right photo on the back is dated May 1942 and it says they just returned from shopping.
There’s my gorgeous bee-yooot. Read this for the story behind the provenance of this baby.
Some of the books that really moved me that are resting on my desk are All That I Am by Anna Funder, The Reader by Bernhard Schlink, The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway, The Dark Room by Rachel Seiffert, and Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières.
I feel like I become a different person when I sit down at this desk. Outside, I’m gregarious and silly and hungry and moving and yelling and dancing and what not… but here, I am something else.
I have a lot more upcoming publications yet-to-be-announced, but now you know where I was when I wrote them.
Remember to update your links and visit the new home of ChristineEstima.com!
Amsterdam is a magical city. Modern and inviting, yet also capable of transporting you into time lost to the ages.
First of all: TYPEWRITER PORNOGRAPHY!
They wouldn’t let me touch it. I WAS DYING TO TOUCH IT.
It even had that old-book smell. They really should bottle that smell and market it to people who are secretly old ladies . . . like me.
I want to put this one on a chain and hang it around my neck.
FONT-SPLOSION! Look at that gorgeous typeface.
This Smith-Premiere was so badly damaged, I think some of the keys had capsized. Also, someone dust that thing, for the love of Gawd!
Speaking of old-book smell…
I found these at the Boekenmarkt that is held once a week near Het Spui in Amsterdam.
Haha, oh the funny things people used to write about.
Best-seller, no doubt.
*Slowly backs away*
GASP! Weird postal crayons made in Czechoslovakia that I have no idea what to use them for! MUST HAVE!
I’m being serious.
I’m sorry, did I just walk into a screensaver?
Back to typewriters! I found this hanging on the wall at Bar Bukowski, which I also visited last year.
I think Bukowski’s books in general are misogynistic, male-bravado, wank-fests, but his quotes taken out of context are damned good.
This reminds me of Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks.”
I actually photographed this little red building back in 2006 but I didn’t record its location back then, so I had no idea how to find it again. I just used my directionally-adept nose and some intuition, wandered around for 2 weeks until I finally found it again. If you don’t know why this building is important, take ANY WALKING TOUR in Amsterdam and they’ll tell you. It’s the smallest building in the entire city.
It has the same depth as other buildings, but it’s only a metre and a half wide. Just long enough for me to lie down in. Someone was working at their laptop there…so yes, people live there.
This wasn’t Amsterdam, it was the Delft… but holy gorgeous amazeballs postcard idyllic nostalgia-ultra-acolyte!
That’s it, I’m moving to Holland. Us old-lady-grannies-in-young-lady-bodies gotta stick together.