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a little bit more about me

My name is Beth and I accidentally have found myself living in Arizona but I'm originally from Tennessee. My education is in history and anthropology, which means that I know a little about a lot of things and can hold my own at a cocktail party in mixed company. I work in museums, doing all sorts of things ranging from researching and writing exhibits to cataloguing absolute wickety wak. I love comedy, baking, photography, my daughter, dogs, and above all else, napping.*

* 2013 edit: Oh yeah, and my new son too.

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    Entries in architecture (4)


    Unfiltered Thoughts: My Small House & the Holidays

    I have a really small place, at least by some standards. Not NYC standards. Not San Francisco standards. But by middle-America standards. It's 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, and less than 900 square feet. It often feels like My Better Half and I are tripping over each other, and it certainly isn't big enough for all of our crap. 

    So now that summer's over, I was thinking about fall and the upcoming holidays, and was getting a wee bit anxious about My Better Half's family coming to visit. There will be 9 adults, 2 children, 1 baby, and 4 dogs. All in my less-than-900-square-feet place. My first thought was Where the hell are all these people going to sit?! I only have seating for 6*. We need to go get some chairs! Maybe people will stand all day. Because nothing sounds better than having 9 adults, 2 kids, and 4 dogs tripping over my newly crawling infant...

    But then I quickly replaced that thought with: Wait a minute. A better strategy is to take *away* some seating, thereby encouraging folks to go hang out somewhere else.

    *Unless you count tiny IKEA stools, in which case I can accommodate 10. Because everyone wants to sit on a hard wooden surface with no back support all day long.



    A Big Announcement, A Small Space

    Now that 2011 is here, I can finally announce to the world that I & My Better Half are expecting a baby on July 4! We've been quietly sharing the good news with family and friends, and one of the most bizarre questions I get is along the lines of "Uh, where's the baby going to, er, go?"

    Fair enough, I guess. My house is small, after all (about 900 square feet). One of my college friends once exclaimed that my house was "smaller than [his] first apartment after college!" And the second bedroom is currently a stuffed-to-the-gills office slash guest room (that has no room for guests). But last time I checked, babies are kinda small. I've come up with tons of places the baby can "go":  

    • In a bucket.
    • In a big tupperware.
    • In the bathtub.
    • In a dresser drawer.
    • In the oven. When it's not on, people. Calm down! 
    • In the laundry basket.
    • Or my favorite: I'll get one of those over-the-door shoe hanger things & rip out the seams between a few of the pockets. That'll be for the baby, and the remaining intact pockets will be for all their crap - pacifiers, diapers, onesies...



    Panic at the Workplace

    Today I learned that my workplace has a panic room. Seriously.

    It's on the upper level, which I've only been on a couple of times. Okay, but here's the thing about the overdesigned wonder in which I work. The upper level is all glass. The exterior walls are glass, the interior room partitions are all glass. Glass, glass, glass. And in keeping with the architecture, the panic room's walls are also...you guessed it!

    What's more, is that since the panic room is in the center of the building, it's basically a panic fish bowl.



    Unfiltered Thoughts: Architecture

    So my new job is in a private art gallery in someone's home. And by home, I mean overly designed architectural marvel. And by marvel, I mean that it's, uh, special. Unique. Ok, it's just straight-up fucked up, really. The building is shaped like a parallelogram. Well, actually, it's a rhomboid, not just a parallelogram. So there are no 90 degree angles anywhere in the building, and everything, from the furnishings to the fixtures, is custom-made. It may sound pretty cool, but there are some pain-in-the-ass quirks about it for someone who works in such a contrived and unusual structure.

    For starters, I work on the basement level. On the south end of the basement level, the ceiling (or the floor of the ground-floor level) is actually a series of plexiglass skylights that let in a lot of natural light. So much light, in fact, that they had to install custom sunscreens on all of them. Not only because of the light and resulting heat, but more importantly because the homeowners store their textiles on the south end, and textiles are easily damaged by light. Meanwhile, the north end of the basement level, where the offices and kitchen are, and where someone like me works 40 hours a week, has no windows or natural light of any kind. It's a mind-boggling arrangement. Valuable textiles' exposure to light should be minimized as much as possible, whereas natural light is good for a healthy work environment for people. So why they didn't just flip the arrangement, and put offices on the south end and textiles on the dark north end, is beyond me. I would say it's just a decision that the owners made after the architect left the scene, but I know how the owners work. They stay on their help employees, contractors, groundskeepers, and architects like a hawk. And there was a clear and conscious decision to place the office spaces on the north end. There are no rooms at the south end - the textiles are displayed along partitions, not walls or within interior rooms.

    Beyond the appropriation of space on the basement level, there's also an issue with the furnishings. Every single furnishing is a built-in. While my office is beautiful - sleek glass and dark black countertops - there are some problems. My desk is also a rhomboid to remain parallel to the interior and exterior walls. Have you ever tried to cut a perfect 90 degree angle on a surface that's a rhomboid? Give it a go and tell me how that works out for you. And everything is fixed. Also, the surfaces are all at a fixed height (which is exactly the wrong height for me), so I'm developing carpal tunnel. When I adjust my chair height so that the seat has me at the appropriate spot, there's only a couple inches clearance under the table. And try as I might, my thighs are not a mere 2". Finally, there are some major oversights in terms of accommodating basic needs. Because all storage is also built-in, there are no wall hooks, no closets. Where am I supposed to hang my jacket or put my wet umbrella?

    It's utterly baffling, because I'm left to think that either the architect missed some key details in terms of thinking about how people would work in and use the space (as this level was specifically designed for the homeowners' hired help), or that the architect's attempts to incorporate such improvements was entirely overridden by the homeowners.