Sunday, December 18, 2011

Table Fountains, Shoddy Retail, and Trouble with Object Permanence

Table Fountains, Shoddy Retail, and Trouble with                               Object Permanence

Yesterday I figured I would dash off to the mall real quick-like, knock off all my Christmas and office-deco shopping, and be home in time for a long session of writing in the afternoon. Oh, the naivety, the absurd optimism! The entire ordeal turned into a 10-hour long trek that ended with me wearily slumped over a Denny’s breakfast special, while my bruised left knee groaned and turned three shades of purple.

The problem wasn’t the gifts. The problem was the seemingly mythic table fountain that I have become obsessed with obtaining for my office. My office is a bit of a Feng-Shui nightmare, a smallish, dim, cave-like affair stuffed in the back of a large work-space area and a kitchenette. I finally managed to clear out 30 years’ worth of dead files, grime and clutter that I inherited when I started the job a few months ago, and in its new lovely emptiness, the space has been calling to me: I need flowing water! I need color! I need something bright and beautiful on the back wall! I need deep green plants! 

I am trying to give the space everything it wants, but it is a slow and clunky process. In retrospect, I think that I’ve been ruined by watching too many home-improvement shows: Benevolent, gifted folk show up out of nowhere, whisk into the hapless owner’s space, whirl around with a little paint and fabric, and viola! In mere minutes, the living room is magically transformed from dull and shlumpy to beautiful haven! It all seems so effortless. The perfect objects materialize out of nowhere, and no one gets sore feet or bangs their knee on a metal shelf. 

In the spirit of such magical haven-making, I have been determined to find a nice stone table fountain; the perfect stone table fountain, in fact. The very table fountain that will single-handedly provide clarity, groundedness, and serenity to my workspace, and by proxy, to me. The table fountain that will be the exact alchemical magic needed to soothe my anxiety and allow me to flow calmly through my work day, handling daily crisis’s with ease and grace.

Well, that fucking fountain doesn’t exist.  

I’m not going to name names, but the first place I tried was in the mall, at that one specialty retail shop that is known for fancy wine-opening gadgets, Shiatsu pillows, and fluffy slippers. And that was pretty much the extent of their inventory. (Sadly, they’ve really taken a nosedive. They used to have truly innovative and interesting products, but no more.) Then I tried the gardening and home sections Big Home Improvement Store One and Big Home Improvement Store Two. Store One’s floor worker just shrugged indifferently in answer to my inquiry, and Store Two’s clerk snapped that there was “no more inventory.” I tried three large generic department stores, and two big famous local gardening shops.  I had a moment of glorious hope when I found a small neighborhood store devoted to lawn and garden art, but that was quickly crushed when I realized their cheapest fountain was over $150.00 and featured a stone Buddha. (Displaying religious symbols of any kind in my office isn’t a good idea.)    

I finally found a single, slightly shoddy ceramic fountain in Generic Department Store Four. It wasn’t ideal, but I figured it would do after a little gussying up and some personal touches. I finally made it home at 6:00 p.m., opened the fountain, and discovered it was missing the pump. 

I slogged all the way back Generic Store, waited in the return line, and told the lady that the pump was missing from the fountain. She said, “Huh. Well just go grab one from one of the other fountain boxes” But,  I explained, that would leave someone else in the same situation I was in, with a fountain and no pump. *Sigh*.

In the end it all worked out, because when I was looking at pumps, I happened to find a very nice blue ceramic globe fountain tucked away on one the shelves—complete with working pump! I took it home and tested it. It’s pretty. And I am certain that is will do exactly everything I expect of it, and transform my little bat-cave into a soothing paradise optimally designed to support my spiritual and professional growth.

Serene, graceful, clear-thinking me—here I come! 

--Kristen McHenry

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