Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Organize This!

My system of organizing should probably be filed under "C." Not "C" as in "Curiosa," but under "C" as in "Chaos." (Not that I really ever file anything ever, but we all have to start somewhere, don't we?) It was not an overstatement when my college roommate aptly gave me the nickname "Hurricane Curiosa" during the year we shared a flat in Seattle.

I've always been a big fan of the statement, "My mess is just an extension of my creativity." Another favorite is the adage, "Love me, love my mess."

My system of organizing goes something like this:

1) Drop things roughly in the same spot on the floor every time so you know where to find it when you are in a mad dash out the door
2) Pile everything onto the couch when you vacuum the floor, moving it gradually back to the floor as you need a place to sit
3) Never cook at home so you never have dirty dishes
4) Put the CDs back in any empty case you find so next time you are hunting for a particular album everything's all set up for a rousing game of "Hide and Seek" (otherwise known as yelling at the cat, "Where the hell did you hide my Norah Jones CD?" only to find it in the Casablanca DVD case. Where Casablanca is currently residing is another problem all together.)
5) Under the cat, next to the other book, upside down, third in the pile of papers is actually a viable storage alternative

Am I the only one who ponders the question, "Why bother vacuuming today when we are just going to have to do it again next monthweek?"

The need to do it often and over and over again is one of my biggest pet peeves with cleaning. It's a vicious cycle. You clean, and it just goes ahead and gets dirty again. That seriously irks me.

I'm also the kind of person who has to make to serious mental effort to squelch to the impulse to move something out of place if things are extremely orderly. If things are too neat, I can’t think straight. I can’t find anything either, but that’s not really the point, is it?

I keep saying that “it could be worse,” referring of course to my own spectacular cleaning ability (or in other words, my ability to make a mess appear out of thin air). I could be thoroughly baffled by the concept of a “vacuum cleaner” and be utterly confused when presented with a toilet brush, but at least I understand theoretically what I am supposed to do with them. As it stands now, I maintain a distinct distinction between “dirty” and “messy,” shying away from the former by doing the bare minimum to keep the health and safety inspectors away but proudly embracing the latter as, once again, “an extension of my creativity.”

So what happens when Chaos Curiosa Style meets the Guy who Likes Things Far Neater than I do?

Now, don't get me wrong. Having a place for everything and liking to have things in their places is not a bad quality. It's just a slightly different approach to organization of one's things than I tend to take.

So what if he organizes his socks according to thickness as well as arranges his CDs in alphabetical order? There is probably more logic to that then my classification of socks according to "clean," "may or may not be clean, you might want to see if it passes the smell test," "dirty," and “very dirty…I wouldn’t sniff that if I were you.” [Luckily, due to my fantastic “long-term, sustainable, economically viable strategic planning” where shopping is routinely chosen as an alternative to doing laundry, I have plenty of socks so the likelihood of sniffing out a clean pair is at least 50/50.]**

My CDs, on the other hand, never have and likely never will be alphabetized, because alphabetizing them would require making sure that the name of the album actually matches the name on the CD cover, and that would take more time and patience than writing a PhD dissertation on the thermo-nuclear dynamic properties of flying pigs.

Thankfully, he has been infinitely patient, and has hardly said a word about the warzone that is my apartment. I'm gradually trying to make it more hospitable/habitable, not because he's asked me to, but because I want him to feel comfortable there. The net result is that I’m trying, and he’s doing a fantastic job of putting up with me and my mess. (I do understand that not everyone shares my "hang it on the floor" philosophy when it comes to care of one's items of clothing.)

My apartment has gradually become neater over the last few weeks, as he spends more and more time here, and his room is starting to look like someone lives there as I spend more and more time at his place. (Sorry about that). My attempts at “trying to be neat” may still look like the aftermath of a tropical storm, but it’s spic and span by the standards of three weeks ago.

I keep letting him know that I am holding him responsible for the transition towards…ewww….ohmigod…turnmyworldupsidedown...something even close to the definition of NEATNESS. I think he'll happily take the blame for that.

Instead of "love me, love my mess," maybe the adage should be, "love me, despite my mess."

**See Curiosa’s Guide to Financial Management.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have a need to vent and your desire to live in a messy apartment is a subconscious attempt to have something to grouse about.
Perhaps think about listening to a tune, the tune you wanted, when you wanted rather than yelling at the cat.
As you become more content with how things are going in your life you will be neater automatically because you not will need the distractions of living in a mess to maintain a superficial discontent. Trust me. "Your Hero"

12:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. Would the real Slim Shady please stand up? (Hint: It's not "Your Hero.")

2. Regarding the comment about distractions, I am reminded of the words of the latter-day philosopher Teng-Kiat Lee: "If so strong the force in Yoda is, construct a sentence with words in the proper order then why can't he?"

3. Luckily for you, rooibos is mostly caffeine-free. Hope you got some rest.


3:08 AM  
Blogger Curiosa said...


I don't need to subconsciously attempt to have something to grouse about. I can come up with plenty of things to grouse about consciously. But I don't think that the "neatness" will ever come instinctively for me. I've had a messy bedroom my entire life, and that, I think, is hereditary.
(See my post on the Packrat Syndrome.)


4:25 AM  
Blogger Kapten Napalm said...

Han är ett sajko. Stay away from the neatness Curiosa:D

11:20 AM  
Blogger Stefan Geens said...

So let me get this straight: You're spending more time at his place while he's spending more time at your place. Then the two of you must see very little of each other, eller?

9:50 PM  
Blogger Ms.Take said...

Different strokes for different folks, that's how it's always been and how it always will be.

Me, I can't study or think straight if my house is a mess. Either clean or leave the house are my only options. We probably wouldn't make great flat mates, you and I :)

10:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i mean ... wtf? Who gets pleasure out of advertising they're complete slobs? Is there any pride in that if you joke about it? Have they heard of washing their dirty laundry privately? (mean that both metaphorically and literally...)

11:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ok, delete the previous comment. Was a bit heavy-handed and uncalled for. By the way Curiosa, very witty posts you write. Maybe it's all envy cuz I cant write like that, wish as much as I did...

12:17 PM  
Anonymous Anna said...

I gave a sticker to my boyfriend with the text: "Order is only for idiots, geniuses can handle chaos"... :-)

6:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man, a tongue in cheek comment on a tongue in cheek subject matter really brings out your defenders. Evidently, some actually believe there is a correlation between being messy and being socially discontent. Me, I was just trying to say hello.
Oh well. "R" can continue to search the net for those who misplace words with or without the aid of "Yoda". Given what I have read in various journals, "R" will be kept busy as the "keeper of proper syntax".

1:32 AM  
Anonymous Ellen said...

I have a sticker on my fridge saying "A clean house is a sign of a wasted life". That's something I keep in mind all the time, and keep moving all the piles around. My sofa is so uncomfy, so I never need to bother about moving things from it, since I never use it.

12:51 PM  
Blogger Mel said...

Although I like my place fairly neat I clean I share your hatred of cleaning. Vaccumcleaning. Is. The. Dullest. Thing. Ever.
I put if off as long as I can, roughly 'till about the time when my asthma kicks in...

12:44 PM  
Blogger Calima elen said...


I really like your writing style, wish I could write that well :-) Also, my system of organizing is quite exactly the same as yours, except for number 3 since I really like cooking (but I'm lazy on the dishes of course) :-D

Too neat is just too neat, a house has to look like someone actually lives there. :-)

10:58 PM  

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