Monday, November 26, 2007


I am sitting at the computer, thinking I should finish cleaning the kitchen. The dishes are done. The floor isn't. Its unwise to walk in the kitchen without shoes. I'm longing for the Sunday morning when my overachieving sprinkler enlisted Phil to do the floor cleaning (Cleaning the Kitchen Floor 101)

The counter has all manner of things that don't belong there, including a half-full jar of pickles--what should I do with them? Are they still good? I'm not going to be the taste tester. So I'll leave them there until Phil throws them out. He will eventually. He's always saying, "Do you want to keep this?" about something that isn't worth saving and I always say, "No" and then he throws it out and I think why couldn't I have done that?

There is a respectable sized stack of paper on the counter and another one on the table. I love paper, truly love paper but once it's been used I don't know what to do with it. Drawings by the grandchildren--how can you throw those away? Love notes. Letters from friends. Stacks of drafts that have gone through either my personal history group or my critique group. There might be valuable suggestions written on them. Why didn't I deal with them the day they came home with me?

I want the Shoemaker's Elves to come in the night and deal with all my lingering papers. I don't want to do it myself. In my defense I did start on them today and then my husband came into the kitchen to fix his own lunch--probably because of that dog food crack he made several weeks ago (Why Old People Get Sick and Die) and he doesn't trust me not to slip an Alpo sandwich on his plate. So, his being there, underfoot, was the perfect excuse to give up and go somewhere else.

"Did I chase you out?"


"Well, blah, blah, blah," he said.

I really wasn't interested in his theory of why I had the right to stay in there and clean so I tuned him out. I simply didn't want to stay and work so I let him take the blame for the mess that didn't get dealt with. Of course, he is a reasonable man and isn't going to take the blame but neither was I so I will have to blame the cat.

I think I learned this not finishing business early on. Certainly as early as high school. Patsy, Dick and I got kicked out of Mr. Hunsaker's English class. In order to be admitted back in we had to write a 5,000 word paper on "Why I shouldn't talk in class." I didn't care if I got back into class or not but I didn't want to be the only one not in there and I knew Patsy and Dick were reasonable people so I sat down that night to compose my pathetic paper. I don't know what Patsy and Dick wrote but I wrote everything I could think of and still only had it half done. I was a smart mouthed teenager so three fourth of it was sassy. I finally enlisted my brilliant oldest sister's help.

"I can't think of one more word to write."

"How much do you have done so far?" she asked.

"About half."

She got a gleam in her eye and I knew I was saved. She wrote a poem, I'd pay money to have a copy of it but I didn't think it would ever be important and so I just copied it on the bottom of my paper and handed it in. It said something about my diligence, my devotion and the words, "Dear Mr. Hunsaker" were in there too. Then it said something like I've written 2,500 words and if he would just read it again I'd have made the required number of words. It was in rhyme and made me sound hard working and obedient. It lied.

I watched the next day as he read the last page. When he got to the last line he smiled. I was saved.

When I got the paper back he had written on the bottom, "This paper was 2,337 words long, not 2,500. He had counted every word! Who would have thought? I was a cheater even about the length of half of my required words.

And I'm still trying to get away with it. Send the Shoemaker's elves. You got in my space so I can't finish. It's the cat's fault. I have things I have to write. I'm too tired. I should just say I have an deficient tidy gene and call it good. I think I will.

Does it sound better to have an deficient tidy gene or to say I want to be a cheater and have things magically fixed, like they were in high school when I didn't have to write the other 2,663 words? I can't decide. One says I'm deficient and the other says I'm a cheater. I think I like being a cheater better because I can always repent but how can I repair a deficiency in my DNA? I don't want to be a cheater either. It gives me the shivers to even type the word. I just want it to be fixed and I guess I'm the only one who can fix it.

I need a class on Tidy 101. I sure hope I can find one on the Internet because I don't want to have to leave the house and go out in the dark and cold to take it. I'm boycotting the dark and cold this winter and I'd hate to have to go out in it and acknowledge that they actually exist.


Ekim said...

I live alone and have no cat so all the mess is my own. Clutter. It just seems to pile up on its own but I know that I must have done it.
I find it easier to clean at my friends house than my own.

Astromom said...

I can totally relate, more than you know. I have real made some efforts towards dealing with the piles. Like if I've read a thank you note or Christmas card 5 times (enough to keep it in my head), it is o.k. to through out. And when it comes to my children's papers we would be swimming through papers, but I somehow can't seem to get rid of all of them. I needed to read your blog today, I was looking at my boxes and piles and counter and thinking I must be the only one with piles like this in their house. But, it is true, I can get rid of it when I feel motivated, or at least bring it down, I can never seem to completely get rid of a pile. Anyways. I loved this blog

Kathie said...

Lynne, piles are the bane of a woman's existence, and they're usually our own. Isn't it ironic?!

CresceNet said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Hey it's Amy Shipp said...

Oh my heck~ This post made me laugh out loud! :D
What a crack up your house must be! Alpo sandwich? heehee.
By the way, next week I am getting a new "closet world" office. My husband is taking away my excuse of "if I had somewhere to file it, the paper/mail/letter/etc. would not stack up!" Wish me luck...
<3, Amy in AZ

I need orange said...

I have come to the conclusion that "tidiness" is not the problem.

The problem is "accumulation".

I think it *is* in our dna. After all, in (very) olden times, the woman who could accumulate resources was the woman whose family would survive the cold hard winter.........

Just as our bodies haven't had time to adjust to the easy (plenty-of-food) times in which we live (so nearly all of us weigh more than we ought), our need for saving Stuff has not adjusted to the plenitude of Stuff in our lives.

My most recent decision (after dealing with 41 credit card offers over the weekend!) is to leave the shredder out and plugged in and ready to go, so that when stuff comes in that should be shredded, it gets shredded rather than piling up waiting for a shredding session.

A decision I made some time ago is -- if I don't LOVE it, I can't accumulate it. If I just think it is OK, I can NOT bring it home, no matter how cheap it is........

I've done pretty well at bringing the accumulation to a near halt.

Which is a totally nother story from getting rid of stuff already accumulated, alas..............

Which I really really really need (very badly) to do.........

cnlpeterson said...

I totally agree with the accumulation theory - now I have the excuse that it's instinct!

Help - I'm drowning in clutter! Moving from 1200 sqft to 500 sqft has not helped at all. Though we have gotten rid of a lot and in all fairness if we moved back into 1200 sqft it wouldn't be so bad!

I'm done with school next week, but the kids have another week, so my goal is to get the house cleaned out and ready for the next, newest mess maker coming in Feb. Now if I could just figure out where to put all her stuff.....

Love you Auntie,