Wednesday, January 24, 2007

In A Nutshell
VII

In a Nutshell

A place set aside to answer 201 autobiographical questions from a mother for her daughter. This may take awhile...join us if you like.


7. A habit I picked up in the early years was:
organizing things. I'm not certain that I picked up the desire so much as was born with it. I seem to have noticed how things could be arranged and adopted or adapted these techniques at an early age. The alphabet has long been my friend; I alphabetize books, spices, and canned goods, as well as files. Size is a natural for things like pots and pans that differ in that dimension. The color spectrum serves to organize my closet (well, first I divide things by category, then by color). Sequence is useful for arranging photo albums as well as to lay out ingredients for a recipe. If you use the item and then put it immediately away, should you be called away from your task, you don't have to wonder if you've added the salt yet. Mama has said that I was born with a copy of the alphabet in one hand and a color code in the other.

I also like to see things in containers. When we lived in Puerto Rico I borrowed stole all of Mama's shoe boxes so that I could use them as dividers in my dresser drawers. Since Mama keeps her shoes in their original boxes (unlike me, who keeps them sorted by color and heel height with shoe trees in them), she came looking for them before I had even completed the project. I still remember her carrying her boxes back to her room, shaking her head, and saying, "Would it kill her if a sock should touch her undershirt?"*

I like to keep things where they are used. Burn ointment belongs in the kitchen, since I have yet to burn myself in the bathroom. During the days when I baked a lot, all of the baking supplies and equipment were kept together, close to the counter I used to mix and knead. I use scissors and Scotch tape a lot of places, and I have a number of them so I don't have to go looking for them. Measuring spoons and cups are cheap and it is helpful, to me, to store the most common one that I use in a given ingredient in that container. Like a one cup measure in the rice and a third cup in the Malt O Meal. I also have multiple nail files and clippers, grabbers, pens, and paper. I live in a two story apartment, so I have two brooms and two vacuums and two dust pans. You just never know when having a vacuum on the top floor would allow you to clean a small spill that might get ignored if you had to go fetch it up the stairs.

The first time Julie brought Ted to meet me, we went out to dinner and when I was putting my change in my wallet, I arranged my bills by denomination ($1s in front), face front and heads up and Ted smiled and said that now he knew that Julie was, indeed, my child!

I divide my grocery list into categories (staples, produce, baked, dairy, non-food, frozen).

Yes, I know it sounds compulsive. I totally understand why Monk returns and hangs the umbrella so that all the handles are facing the same way. On the other hand, I don't care how you keep things in your space, whether that is your house or your part of the shared office. It's not my stuff, it's not my business. So, I'm not as difficult to live with as it might seem.

* And it's a good thing that happened in Puerto Rico, when she hadn't many pair of shoes because if it happened today, when she has been buying expensive shoes and taking excellent care of them so that they last decades, she would have had to have a dolly to get all the boxes back in one trip.

5 comments:

Joy Des Jardins said...

I have to laugh J...I'm similar in some ways. When I start to feel I'm getting compulsive about something I have to remind myself....organized is good. We all have our little systems, don't we? Whatever works.

J said...

I think I need to get some lazy susans for my spices...my spice cabenit is a MESS, and the shape of it makes it very hard to find things. Really, I'd like new cabenits, with room in the doors like spice racks, so I can have them right there, all alphabetical and nice. I have dreams of such organization, but not enough will to keep them maintained. Sigh.

KerrdeLune said...

This feels so familiar to me - on the surface of it, I organize things so that I can remember right where they are and find them easily when I need to, but during these dark winter days, the desire to clean and polish and arrange things in an orderly fashion is taking on a life of its own.

gawilli said...

I am not near as organized as I used to be when I lived alone. It became much eaiser to lighten up rather than continue to try to organize someone who wasn't the least bit interested!

kenju said...

I am very much like that, MG, especially about laying out the ingredients of a recipe. Sometimes I am told that I'm compulsive, but I prefer to think of it as organized and efficient!