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Thursday, June 5, 2008

The messy organizing freak: split personality or charming quirk?

For someone so unadept at keeping house, I am surprisingly (some might say annoyingly) neurotic about organizing.

My computer files are organized in folders, sub-folders, sub-subfolders, so are my favorites. My spices are in alphabetical order, with the spice mixes all on one side, separate from the single spices. When I do my grocery shopping I place all produce in one bag, all frozen foods in a separate bag, all refrigerated foods in a third bag and all dry, canned and packaged foods in a fourth. And if I buy any beauty products or toiletries, they go in a small paper bag inside the dry foods bag.

Now, to me this just makes sense, because it makes putting stuff away a piece of cake, and avoiding leaving something that goes in the fridge at the bottom of a bag with dry stuff in it. Oh, who am I kidding? I'm weird. I am messy, I have to actually force myself to put things away every now and then just so I'll be able to find them again, but if anyone helps me put stuff away, they HAVE to put it exactly where it belongs or it irritates me to no end. I should be thankful for any help I can get, right? Instead I prefer having no help to having to move things to the places where I think they belong.

My poor husband, who has been putting up with me for 11 years (I do have some good traits, you know), after almost 2 years in this house still doesn't totally get where everything goes when the dishwasher is unloaded or the groceries are put away. To me it's very simple: the burgundy plates on one pile on the lower shelf - next to them the lavender plates and then the everyday white plates. The chinese tea set, the bowls and the mayan-inspired dinner set on the middle shelf, the white porcelain dinner set and Croatian coffee set on the top shelf obviously, because they are only used for special occasions. What is so difficult about that?

Or the arrangement of pots and pans in the kitchen: frying pans in one pile, pots with one long handle in another, pots with 2 short handles in a third; lids on the higher shelf, baking dishes in the other cabinet (on the opposite side of the kitchen).

I don't know, to me there is a logic to all this - but I guess it isn't apparent to everyone. My friend K. thinks this is where my Virgo personality shows up, my mom thinks I'm just concentrating on the wrong things and thinks that I'm neurotic just for doing a weekly menu and shopping list, but understands some of the organizing points (and questions others). The only one who understands me is my cool aunt Rox, except it has always been sort of an in-joke in the family, how high-maintenance she is because she wants her things just so - so I'm not sure that her support gains me any points.

Meanwhile, in my universe there is a technique to organize just about everything: kitchen cabinets, pantries, closets, drawers, office shelves, computer files... but when it comes to cleaning, my biggest accomplishments are more often done in form of very specific checklists, compiled and typed up, with check boxes and bulleted or numbered item lists - afterall, for a messy organizing freak like me, writing a list is almost as good as actually doing the stuff on it. So after all that typesetting is done, and my gorgeous checklist is ready and printed, I'm ready for a break - my new book and a cup of tea are waiting for me on the side table, right next to the comfy sofa where I have my pillows just so.

Being misunderstood can be very tiring.

2 comments:

Fashion Paramedic said...

I'm a VIRGO too!!

My husband has decided to stop doing all things related to INSIDE the house, because he knows that I'll only re-trace his steps and do things my way. Like loading the dishwasher . . . Um, are we the only ones who know that plates and bowls don't belong in the top rack? Please! :)

Henry K. said...

Hmmmm, I agree with your friends, you are crazy! Jk! lol

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