Trying to organize a natural state of entropy.

I have a hard time keeping my house and work areas clean. It is not that I don’t appreciate a clean work area or house. Now I know the first reaction is, ” Well James, you are a bit lazy”. While such amazingly inaccurate lies offend me…nope, couldn’t get through it with a straight face. I am a bit lazy, but that is not the only reason for the “clutter”. 

When a stranger walks into my work area, they see a mass of prints, specifications, and books. They cannot comprehend the “mess”. I have had horrible, horrible people “help” me by ‘straightening up a bit’. What they do not understand is that the items may look chaotic, but they are usually in a specific order. If the helpful (evil, time wasting) person had asked, I could have told them the exact order of the specs, prints, and projects. The specs and project files are arranged by schedule, urgency, and amount of my time required for the project.  They don’t ask. They just turn into the opposite of the shoe cobbler’s elves and make me have to hunt and search for drawings when I need them.  

The textbooks are arranged in order as well. Most commonly used are in the middle on the upper left, with the categories changing further right and left based on frequency of use. This confuses people because, apparently, you are supposed to have your books on the same side as your dominant hand, with the most commonly used on the furthest dominant side.  That doesn’t make sense to me for a variety of reasons. One reason is that i separated my shoulder a few years ago and certain positions hurt more than others. The other reason is that I step back and to the right when I get out of my desk chair. A bookshelf would smack me in the shoulder if it was on the right side. The last reason is that is how I like my stuff, leave it alone.

My cluttered life extends into my home. The home clutter is a different animal. Part of the home clutter is due to my schedule. I get home from a nice long 12-15 hour day and (strangely) my first reaction is not, “Oooh what can I clean tonight”. It doesn’t help that I often travel out of town for weeks, or even months,at a time.  I usually only get things “clean” when I am expecting company. Now before you get grossed out or call the psych ward, I am not a hoarder. You won’t open my door to a stack of ancient newspapers and rats. I usually clean the food fairly quickly and I am not even sure where to buy a newspaper anymore. Anyways, there are plenty of other reasons to call the psych ward, not including my imaginary friends that are all named Roger (and are some form of bunny). My “cleaning” method is similar to a child’s. All stuff gets stuffed in closets or hidden under a bed. Doors are always supposed to bulge outward, right?

A couple months ago, my sister decided to hire a house cleaner while I was out of town. At the time this seemed very sweet. Since then, I have been searching for things since then. Tonight, I found 30 pairs of socks. In the house cleaner’s defense, most of my stuff is still in boxes and she was just trying to make it more organized. I feel like I got home after an overly ornery cat hid a bunch of my stuff. “Where are my phone chargers, you psycho?”

I have people visiting this month. With that knowledge, I have decided to finally unpack. Yes, my stuff has been packed in boxes since April and it is December. Yes, I have a garage that could store the boxes. I think it is just annoying me. One annoyance is that i had to pack things up four weeks before I expected. I basically just piled everything into boxes as fast as possible. I have about 20 “miscellaneous” boxes of unidentified stuff (mostly junk). Unfortunately, I do not have near enough space in my home for most of this, so I am having to throw a lot of things out. Since I don’t have any of my boxes labeled, I am playing a horrible game. remember the kid’s game where you would turn over a bunch of cards with symbols on them, then flip them and try to find matching pairs? Unpacking my house is similar to that. “Why do I have computer cables for hardware that are 20 years old? I haven’t had the hardware in 15 years.” “What is this weird piece of plastic? I guess I will throw it away”. Usually the last sentence is followed two weeks later by “Oh no, where is that little tiny piece of plastic that supports this entire shelf? Oh it is that part I threw away a while ago. Yay me”.

I am not sure why I clean when company comes over. I assume it is to delay the inevitable intervention. It may also be because people fell less comfortable in a strange house when it is messy. Social norms say that I am supposed to make people feel comfortable as guests in my house. Apparently, “Just throw stuff off the couch and have a seat” is not as comfortable as having a completely clean couch. I will never understand people.  (And, because I know you are wondering, I have three imaginary friends named Roger. One is a pookah, one is animated, and one wears a weird mask.)



1 thought on “Trying to organize a natural state of entropy.

  1. As one of the “horrible, horrible people”, I commend you for trying to make your guests feel more welcome. You could just have an open house once a year and let people know that this is the ONLY time you will be receiving guests. That way you’d only have to clean once a year! 🙂

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