“It’s All Mine” ~ Viki Julian Gonia’s View From the Keyboard

Viki Julian Gonia teaches in the Fiction Writing Department of Columbia College Chicago, and writes a column for her local paper. Yep, a paper that still exists. Fighting the good fight. Just about everything interests Viki; she has a very good eye for the everydayness of things, the way the world’s spin affects our daily balance. Her voice is authentic and friendly, her words funny and often slightly barbed. She writes in the comfort of her home.

Viki: I have two main writing spaces in my house. The first, my “office,” is in the basement. When I bought my little house a year or so ago, my first priority was to create a space for writing that was my very own–something I’d longed for, and kept trying to create (unsuccessfully), when I was married. I hired a guy to come tear down some walls and carve a space. I put together cheap bookcases from IKEA and set it all up and then promptly abandoned it. Weird, huh?

I think that I realized that the whole damn house is my very own (the day I closed, I walked from room to room with my arms opened wide and proclaimed, in every space, “MINE!” like a 2-year-old with sharing issues). I didn’t need to try to carve my own space because it’s all mine.

But, just a couple of weeks ago, I reclaimed it. Organized (mostly–I need a little bit of chaos) the piles of papers. Cleared away my son’s soda cans. Swiped the dust from the desktop. I get most of my “business” writing done there, like writing my newspaper column.

Then there’s my living room. Lavender walls and feminine furniture–it’s a girly and comfortable room. I like to sit on the floor with my back against the sofa and a cat or two at my shoulder and a dog at my knee, or at the desk, where I can look up and out to the backyard. There’s nothing in this space that I don’t love. If I were a living room instead of a human, I would be this room.

Something I’ve written recently in this space:

She pours another vodka tonic, turns up the music, picks up items off the display shelves–a glass bottle of the kind he uses to store the Sands of Beaches, which contains a crumpled dollar bill and on the bottom of which has been written “AVJ” and “Tip” and a smudged date, the family golf and bowling tournament trophies. She wonders why he hung the painting of the Old Ormond Hotel near the window, where it would be faded by the sun, and ponders stealing it for herself. She chuckles at the photos he’s printed out of his grandchildren, stuck in cheap frames he’d picked up at the WalMart, and the poster of  the U of I football team, her brother, thick-necked, his blue-and-orange jersey tight across his chest, in the second row.

She thinks, oddly, about the strangeness of her father’s idiosyncrasies, about his carefully placed mementos, the lightning rods on the roof of the house–a huge expense to address the fear that he might be struck twice after the time in the 70s when Mother Nature tore a hole in the roof of his business, pushing him further into struggling times. His stacks of books–Wealth Without Risk piled atop Raymond Chandler collections, beneath John Grisham novels. His telescopes and books full of constellations, his need to have things be a certain way not because they look best like that, but because that’s the best way to remember everything he never wants to forget.

More from Viki on her blog vikibabbles.com. Thanks for sharing your space, woman. Reminder to the rest of you: still soliciting submissions to View from the Keyboard. Guidelines at the right. Oh, and Happy Spring Sphere Day.←

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