Monday, June 21, 2010

Ordering people

posted Sun, 07 Oct 2007

My Serious Honey finally said the words I’ve been waiting so long to hear – the words any woman longs for and hopes for and imagines:

“When you get here next week, we’ll throw away all the old magazines I’ve accumulated.”


I am an organizer. I hate clutter. When you’ve moved about a gajillion times in your life and have had to do most of the moving yourself, you decide very quickly what you can live without. Me, I can live without almost anything. I need a bed and a table and a dresser, but I don’t keep books or magazines or letters* or Christmas cards or old clothes that don’t fit and never looked good on me anyhow. I do keep empty boxes and those cute little gift bags that you use instead of wrapping paper, but that’s because I am cheap and re-use them. If I didn’t have an attic in which to store them, though, they would be gone. Yes. I am that ruthless.

SH, on the other hand, has moved very few times in his life. He also has the clutter gene.*2 To his credit, his clutter is organized, but it is still clutter. He has a lot of stuff. Lots of old t-shirts that have sentimental value: “That’s the t-shirt I got from the first time I went to Summerfest!” or “From that project I worked on at Apple!” or “From that thing at college!” Note that he does not wear these t-shirts; he just has them.*3

But, as I said, his stuff is organized. The magazines are stacked neatly in piles 30” high. The old coupons that expired three years ago are all in one group on top of the boxes that have never been opened. Napkins are stuffed behind the knife block. His stuff has its place.

Still, it takes up too much room. There is nowhere for me to put my stuff when I am there (OK, he did clear out a lot of his closet and one dresser drawer and I am – mwah! – so proud of him for that!) and it’s hard to get around his office.

I am thrilled at the chance to clear some of the clutter out. I’m good at clearing and organizing: the temp filing/cleaning out the office job I had last week? They had budgeted over a week to get it done.

It took me three and a half days. I don’t know if they were expecting an idiot or if I am just truly amazing. I suspect the latter.*4

Even my friends tell me I should become a professional organizer. They point out that 1) I am organized and 2) I love telling people what to do. Getting paid to get people to bend to my will would be the dream job.

For the nonce, though, I will do it for love.

* Youngsters, people actually used to put words on paper, either by hand or with a typewriter, which is a machine like a computer but with no electricity or interweb involved, and then put the paper in an envelope with a stamp and let the US Postal Service deliver it. The getting of a letter was a special occasion and the letter would be re-read many times. Receiving a letter was such a special thing that some people saved their letters; after they died, their descendents read all their private business and sometimes even made the letters into books.

*2 Yes, it’s genetic. If tidiness and minimalism were the result of nurture, my brother would not live as he does.

*3 Although as the woman who keeps The Red Shoes just because she likes owning them, even if she never gets to wear them, I probably should not be throwing stones.

*4 A friend pointed out that I was being paid by the hour and should maybe slow down. Not a chance. I like organizing, but not enough to drag it out. The whole point is to get it done.

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