Editor's Note

Caution: Tchotchkes at work

Comfort Dorn
March 13, 2020
tchotchke (noun) \ˈchäch-kə, -kē; ˈtsäts-kə\: knickknack, trinket 
Origin: Yiddish tshatshke trinket, from obsolete Polish czaczko
First Known Use: 1971
  • — Merriam Webster Unabridged

On my office windowsill I have a plastic margarita glass full of paper umbrellas, a small pot of succulents, a pottery jar wearing a scarf and hat, a plastic butterfly ring, a fidget spinner and a sign that reads “Crazy cat lady.”
These are my office tchotchkes. They’re usually more spread out, but I wanted to pose them:

Comfort Dorn

We all have these things, right? The random objects that accumulate in our workspaces and make them our own. Look around your desk/office/lab. What do you see? You can probably tell a story about where each of these non–work-related things came from. 

I didn’t even own a cat when I got that “CCL” sign; my boss got excited after I visited the animal shelter and ordered it for me. Now I’m branded.

Why am I writing about this?

Regular readers might recall that we devote our August issue to the topic of careers.  We invite you to submit essays and articles related to your career path, sharing what you’ve learned. We want to know what works (and what doesn’t) as ASBMB members seek and find the jobs that fit.

We still want those serious, useful articles and essays (deadline: June 15), but we also want your tchotchkes. 

Take a picture of the knickknacks in your workspace (bonus points if you’re in the photo too) and then tell us their story: Where did you get them? How long have you had them?  What do you think about/feel when you look at them?

You don’t need to write a lot. Keep it under 100 words. Then send your picture (as a jpg file) and words to ASBMB Today by that June 15 deadline. We’ll share them in our August 2020 issue.


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Comfort Dorn

Comfort Dorn is the managing editor of ASBMB Today.

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