Tuesday, November 3, 2009

"The Carley Ruler"

I remember in elementary school how I was always expected to keep the inside of my desk neat, and neat is exactly how I kept it.

On the left side of my desk I kept my textbooks and notebooks stacked on top of each other. Largest on the bottom, smallest on the top, with the entire stack pushed to the far back left corner of my desk.

The textbooks all contained my name written in the section that the borrower was required to fill in. My name would be filled in, always neat, always pristine.

On the right side of my desk would be my pencil box, usually a Spacemaker pencil box in whatever colours were my favourite at the time. I am not sure if they make them anymore, but I remember those boxes with the round, evenly spaced raised circles on the top. Inside this pencil box would contain everything that I needed for school: sharpened pencils, a pencil sharpener, an eraser (white was always my preference), and a wide array of Laurentian pencil crayons, each with my name written across the white band found on the center of each pencil crayon.

I remember one year my pencil crayons were stolen. I saw them later in class when a girl was using them. She had carved my name off of the back of each one of them, the white personalized band was now raw wood. On some of them I could still see the edges of some letters; a curve of a “C” on some edges, the end of a “y” on others, as if they were still acknowledging that they were mine.

The very front of my desk would hold the requisite thirty centimetre wooden ruler with my name written in black marker neatly on the back. I still have one of these rulers today in my current desk.

The names on the pencil crayons, in the textbooks, and the name on the ruler were all signifiers saying “this is me, these are mine” in extremely neat printing. Not just the items, but a signifier of who I am.

I have not changed much in all of this time. You would think that things would be much different now. Some things are; the old textbooks are long gone, so is the desk, even the pencil crayons. Yet, I noticed how similar my desk and its organization are today to that of my childhood.

The small wooden desk with the round hole cut out of the corner has been replaced with a beautiful and carefully selected white lacquered desk. The orange plastic chair is now a softly cushioned pink upholstered chair. Atop the desk is a white MacBook, just as shiny and white as the desk, and to each side is an antique clear glass lamp, both with white lamp shades. The contents of the desk have essentially remained the same. The center drawer of the desk contains neatly piled textbooks, notebooks, and folders, still to the left side of the inside of the desk. The right side of the desk has an organizer that is filled with pens, pencils, white erasers, and that same ruler from elementary school. The ruler looks essentially the same, just like my method of organization, just like me.

I always hear people talk about how a person can change, but I don't think that you can. People are who they are, no matter how different people wish they could be. We may grow older, get new desks, but we remain the same. You are who you are, even in something as mundane as the way that we organize our desks.

The Carley on the ruler from ten years ago is the same Carley today.

The same printing, the same me.


  1. Your post was very precise, clean, and properly organized -- just like the desk you are describing. This post made me laugh, probably because I know you, and how always organized & careful you are about your belongings, especially your Macbook (now it all makes sense!) This is post is about so much more than just your desk and the instance of someone stealing and using your pencil-crayons; it is a metaphor to a reveal a part of your personality. It's amazing how you describe everything so clearly from such a long time ago (like your pencil crayon brand, the exact positioning of the items on your desk, etc.) and I felt like I was back in public school again. Your ending works well because you connect it to the beginning by saying "we may grow older, get new desks, but we remain the same." Nice work.

  2. In this post you reveal a lot about you, perhaps how you expect to be percieved or maybe even how you percieve others. You want everything to be "just so". I would like to see more about your reaction to the person who stole your pencil crayons, so I can make a decision about the message you are sending in this post. Maybe it is about you, maybe it is about the girl who stole your pencil crayons and maybe it is about people in general. I need a little more information.
    You were very effective in the sense that I felt like I should sit a little straighter as I read your post and I felt that I needed to hide any of my disorganizion. I was "At Attention" when I was reading.

  3. A really interesting post here Carley, one that I enjoyed!

    I think one thing that I noticed and that stood out to me here was the solid organization of your writing. The sentence structure was quite fluid, and the ideas expressed in each were very concise, contained and free of mess... And As Kayla noted, this would make your blog structure a good deal like your subject matter-- That's interesting!

    Also, I really thought you effectively portrayed the permenance of ownership. You are you always, and even your pencil crayons can't *really* be cleared of their ties to you (when you see the partial letters remaining)...This is a very interesting message.

    The link between who you are and what you own, or how you treat those items was a really interesting take. Of course, the link as well between your literal writing style and your identity was another intriguing point--

    All of this was quite enjoyable to think about. You led me to some very different places, thoughts-wise, when thinking about "what is identity. What is "you" " and I enjoyed that very much.