a stand-up gal

So, you may have heard. Sitting down is pretty much the worst thing you could ever possibly do for yourself.

When you sit down? Your risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, common cold, allergy, leprosy, rash, scurvy, hangnail, and bad hair goes up a whopping 237 percent. When you sit down? All the electricity in your legs shuts off. That’s right: sitting down is effectively your signature on a permission slip that states, “Let my legs fall off!” Just like that. Tomorrow, you are probably going to wake up with no legs, the flu, and a cowlick even the strongest hairspray can’t tame.

Think about all the people you’ve known who have died. Did you ever see them sit down? YEAH, THAT’S RIGHT. 

Last year, when I started working from home most of the week, I decided I should take the matter of standing into my own, er, feet. Just so I could have something to feel all uppity about; at least until they start releasing articles about how detrimental standing is to your health and how sitting actually sends your body into “active hibernation mode,” which adds countless years and benefits to your life in addition to increasing your probability of winning the lottery and making you more attractive to potential mates. 

Seriously — you get fuller, brighter plumage when you sit down as much as possible. Look it up, it’s science.

Like I said, I decided to capitalize on this standing thing, because I love feeling superior. It’s like insta-god status when you stand up. Try it, the next time you’re hanging out with friends. Stand on your chair and point at them and laugh. Say things like: “You all look so tiny and helpless!” and “How’s the weather down there?” and “YOUR LORD DEMANDS A SACRIFICE, PRESENT ME AT ONCE WITH CAKE.” They’ll be so jealous they didn’t think of it first!

The first thing I did after I decided to conform to embrace the cult lifestyle was to get on the internet and look for a standing desk. I had visions of sipping coffee and wearing a cute frock while standing at a desk made of reclaimed wooden barn beams. And just now I had to go and look up “frock” because I realized even after all these years of casual usage I still wasn’t quite sure what it meant; I always kind of liked to think it was an adorable abbreviation of the beloved children’s television series Fraggle Rock. I mean, I’m sure Brangelina sit their brood down to watch Frock every night while they quaff bat’s blood and doodle out their next matching tattoo, amirite? Frock also strongly reminds me of the word smock, which always makes me think of the wildly funny Calvin & Hobbes comic strip. But the thing is, I looked it up and I found that one of the definitions of a frock is, indeed, a smock:

frock [frok], noun
… 2. a loose outer garment worn by peasants and workers; smock. …

What do you even know about that? There remains corner of my brain where my knowledge hasn’t yet been washed away by bourbon!

But what were we talking about, now? RIGHT. STANDING.

So I had these grandiose visions of a gorgeous standing desk upon which I could place my Macbook Pro, and I’d be wearing a delightful frock, and my coffee would be vanilla-flavored, and then my life would somehow be complete. Except that after several minutes of internet searching I realized some things:

  • Desks are, like, totally expensive!
  • And the cheap ones are ugly!
  • Both the nice ones and the ugly ones take up a lot of space, which is at a premium in our house!
  • Flavored coffee weakens my street cred!
  • Squirrels!

What did I do? I’ll tell you what I did. Friends, I went out and got a miniature table made. To put on top of another table.

Oh, yeah. Jealous much?

Yep. This is where I spend most of my working hours. Standing in front of my dining room table. Feeling all smug.

Pros of this setup:

  • The miniature table can be quickly stowed in the closet for those times guests are coming over and we need to pretend we’re normal people who use their dining room table for normal purposes
  • Centerpiece of conversation for those times guests come over and we forget to stow the miniature table, the highlights of which include “Why would you ever want to stand up while you work?” and “That’s totally weird”
  • The kitchen is right on the other side of that wall, which enables me to eat ALL OF THE SNACKS
  • I can surf the internet for pictures of squirrels while STANDING UP
  • Aforementioned godlike status; a towering inferno of righteousness rained down daily on my imaginary subjects
  • Probably spend a little too much time alone
  • CAPS LOCK

So there you have it. This is how I came to be a professional stander. I don’t like to brag, but I’ve gotten pretty good at it. And do you know what? You can, too. 

Unless you want your legs to fall off.

35 Responses to “a stand-up gal”

  1. Just when I was starting to wonder what happened to you (no, you cannot take 2 weeks off without clearing it with me first), you return with this gem. It is tremendous. Also: Fraggle Rock is awesome, and flavored coffee is a sin.

    (seriously everyone, go youtube the theme song to Fraggle Rock and tell me if that doesn’t brighten your day right up)

    (also, I had to scroll up several times while writing this comment, to ensure that you *did* actually write about Fraggle Rock and I didn’t just hallucinate that part)

  2. Sitting gave me acne!

  3. ah. I am the opposite. I lay in bed while working. I’m totally going to die before you.

  4. Aside from the fact that your mini table would put a computer at approximately my hairline, I love it. You are way beyond stacks of books and empty ink cartridge boxes (which is how we used to stand at our desks back when you kids were whippersnappers). So stylish!

  5. I hope that my working-from-the-couch death likelihood is going to be balanced by the fact that I run the stairs, do pushups, and squat whenever I go to the bathroom. And I drink a loooot of water.

    I love your mini-table. I believe there’s a drunken I-believe-I’m-channeling-a-standup-comic rant in your future if I’m ever near it in person.

  6. If it hasn’t already been decided, you win at life.

    Secondly, just to drive you a little more batty with the frock thing, it’s also a men’s coat. I imagined you throughout this post standing wearing a man’s Victorian frock coat drinking your vanilla coffee looking up squirrels on the internet. Even better visual I tell you. Also, the men in white coats might be coming for you soon.

  7. Good point on the CAPS LOCK. Very convincing. Also, very clever set up you got there, I like that you can move it into and out of standing mode whenever you want.

    When I was hanging out with the brain trust (aka. group of women with lots of letters after their name), the standing desk business came up, as it inevitably had to, with sitting being the new smoking and all. Well one of the women works at an injury research centre and the people there who specialize in tendons are apparently against the standing desk because it can injure your tendons over time. Sigh. Not that I’m completely convinced by that – you can find anyone who is against anything. But maybe Lauren is onto something with the lying down?

    I’ve concluded that doing anything at all for 8 hours straight is terrible for you, be it sitting, standing, dancing, walking, or breathing.

    I try to stand up when I’m on the phone as a way to vary things up a little bit and drink a lot of water so I have to walk all the way down the hallway to go to the bathroom. But I’ll probably get leprosy and scurvy anyway.

    • Wait, standing damages your tendons? Huh? That seems a little… stupid.

    • Oh no, I’m pretty sure I breathed for almost 13 hours yesterday, what do I do now!?

      When I found out about the dangers of sitting, I was almost relieved. I was all, “THIS TOTALLY EXPLAINS MY BAD HAIR!”

  8. In an attempt to try and be as cool as you I’m now standing at my desk while I write this. I also have the Fraggle Rock song stuck in my head.

    I do like your setup, but here is a question, do your feet hurt at the end of the day? Maybe because I wear the wrong shoes or stand on tile I find my legs/feet get really sore if I stand all day. Not in a tired muscle sort of way, but a did I just get bludgeoned with stones/what the heck is going on sort of way. Maybe I just need one of those rubber mats to stand on.

    • I find my feet hurt by midmorning! Part of it is that I do a lot of high-impact cardio and sometimes I just ACHE. It’s weird, though — overall I feel like I’ve backslid as time goes on. In the beginning I could stand for pretty much all day — I wouldn’t sit down until 8:00pm. Now I find myself taking sitting breaks every few hours.

      I could do a lot to help myself. I stand barefoot on thin carpet and I could use cushioning and foot support. Been thinking about getting a thick gel mat and possibly getting some kind of special supportive slipper shoe, since I don’t like wearing shoes in the house.

      • (Hi, catching up here…)

        The first thing I wondered was how your feet felt at the end of all that standing. I feel like I’ve been having foot/shoe comfort issues lately and I’m not sure what the best solution is, short of buying several pairs of unsightly old lady shoes. Know of any awesome, cool-lookin’ shoes? Seeing as how you don’t wear shoes while you work, though, you might not have the answers I’m seeking…

        On the gel mat front, I really really really want one of those super squishy kitchen mats. It would be so nice to have for the holiday cheesecakeathon that’s coming up! Those things cost a shitton, but if I were working standing up all day I’d probably invest in one.

        Also, how often do you take sit breaks?

        (Also also, my dad has a walking desk — aka standing desk attached to treadmill — at his office. It’s a really funny thing to picture. Dark suit, all lawyered up, finished off with white sneakers.)

  9. OK, this isn’t totally weird. I often write parts of things by pacing up and down and memorising it as I go, as well as writing in my head while I walk from place to place. I don’t think I’d ever get a little table like yours though.

    But it looks cool!

    • You can memorize as you go!? Smart woman. I find that I have to write immediately or I forget. If I’m in the shower or something where I can’t get to pad or computer I will sometimes repeat the same three sentences over and over just to try not to forget.

      • Only bits of it. (This skill is especially fickle when my illness hits hard.) But yeah, the gist of things. Certainly the most important bits.

        David Mamet and Aaron Sorkin both write pacing and memorising too, so I’m in good company.

        Frock is a dress. Smock is what I wore over my school uniform as a kid/wore to art class so I didn’t get paint on my uniform. Seriously, I should find a photo.

  10. I always thought a frock was a dress. I’m going to continue thinking in that manner because, well, I want to do so.

    Also, I hate squirrels. There. I said it.

    • I am not even sure why I like them so much, given that they’re essentially fluffier rats. They make my mother incredibly nervous.

      PS A frock is still a dress! The first definition is “a gown or dress worn by a girl or woman.” Which is a little too gender-normative, if you ask me.

  11. Dooood! My husband is totally part of this cult, too! And he keeps making ME stand up with him when I work from home because he, like, cares about my long-term health or SOMETHING (jerk). Perhaps the worst part is that he is way too cheap for a classy setup like yours, so he just places a large clear plastic storage bin from the closet onto the desk each day and pops his laptop on top of it. I am personally Not A Fan of gazing into the bin of miscellaneous gift-wrap supplies all day, so I am taking this post as a sign that it’s time for an upgrade.

    • Haha, when I go into the office I use cardboard boxes! My boss said she’d get something classier but I’m only in there once a week, it’s not enough to spend money on there. But yeah. I just found out what height I needed and put an order in with a woodwoorker to make the little table, since I wasn’t finding anything pre-fabricated that would work/that I liked.

  12. Eff standing, man. What’s the point of working from home if it’s not to lay in a pile of pillows and cheetos while I work?

  13. I worked will standing for several weeks because I was desperate to find any position or set-up where I could type without pain. Standing at my kitchen counter was the best (I am short), but I did work with an ugly set-up of books and binders for quite a while too. Your set-up looks very nice though….

    Thankfully I am typing less these days, but am still having pain while at work. I don’t have the right set up there and I’m not sure they’d go for a standing set-up since my desk is in an open space…. Ah well, it’s only 3 days a week.

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