Sunday, February 3, 2013

Confessions of a Reformed Neat Freak

I love cleaning. It represents the pinnacle of responsible household activity. So many things out of place, so many items crying out for categorization and proper placement. I hear your cries, my children.  I'm coming for you. I am your salvation.

I led a monkish existence when I lived alone. Only the basics survived under my roof. I allowed a bed, dining room furniture, and a futon for guests. I borrowed books from the library. My hard drive held all my movies. The hardy little PlayStation Portable served as my video game console.

Then I moved in with Fiancé. Here, I saw the peril of home ownership: stuff. SO. MUCH. STUFF. Laserdiscs, VHS tapes, DVDs, Blu-rays, boxes of paper, boxes of unknown content, textbooks, paperbacks, hardcovers, board games, pictures, shirts, sweaters, mom jeans, pants, coats, costumes, suits, XBox games, D&D paraphernalia, knick-knacks, mismatched glasses, expired alcohol, expired medicine, I've-never-seen-that-before thongs, Mason jars, office supplies...and that's not even counting an entire room of things in the basement.

My head exploded. So much stuff, none of it mine. I couldn't go on a cleaning rampage and donate everything to Goodwill.

Evolution favors not the strongest or the fastest, but the most adaptable. I adapted. I took the 65% closet space allotted to me and obsessively organized my clothing by Professional, Casual, Flirty, Formal, and Hobo. I stacked my important papers, all arranged by subject, in the space under my bedside table. I sorted what books I had by size. I won a petition for a space exclusively for my bags. I put my shoes in a space-saver and classified them according to seasonal use.

Why have I been cursed such organizational skill that my own mother sends me her stuff in advance of a trip so that I may pack her suitcase for her? Did some childhood trauma involving insight into entropy and chaos forge in me some determination to exercise control over my surroundings, preferably with the help of a label maker? Did I inherit it from my grandma, who makes a list of all the contents of the refrigerator and tapes it onto the door, for the benefit of anyone who could possibly be interested? Did I learn it from my sisters, who painstakingly organized their beauty items in small, easily accessible pink trays?

Whatever the case may be, I know I am now a reformed neat freak. Reformed neat freaks are those individuals who have no choice but to accept the lower different neatness standards of those with whom they co-habitate. We conceal our tics whenever we see stacks of board games on a chair instead of on shelves on the entertainment center. We secretly indulge in our fixation for neatness by conducting unannounced raids on cabinets and refrigerators, and throwing out items years past the sell-by date. For health! For safety! For the ability to argue for neatness by pointedly putting four bottles of grape jelly side-by-side where the culprit will see them as soon as the culprit opens the fridge! See, if the fridge had some semblance of order, one would know that one already had three bottles of grape jelly!


In the meantime, I continue to joyfully clean the bathroom. A sparkling tub provides comfort and reassurance. A hair-free floor promises prosperity. Neatly lined beauty items, one side for him, the other side for me, allows for efficient ablutions. Yessss, my precioussssss, we must have the neatnessssss...

This post brought to you by Puppy Bowl IX!

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