Sunday, June 14, 2009

Organized Mess

My 'system' of household organization, if it can be described as such, is an Organized Mess. This may sound like one of those head-scratching oxymorons, like Act Naturally, Virtual Reality, Only Choice or Microsoft Works. But, in reality, it is more like a complicated algorithm or quantum physics: what looks like one big jumbled mess to one person actually contains a perfectly logical, linear truth to another person.

Take, for example, the Everything Drawer. I grew up with one, and as far as I know every house in America has one. If it doesn't, it should. When I cannot find what I'm looking for, and its not in the Everything Drawer, I decide it probably doesn't exist or wasn't really what I needed anyway. A sampling from our Everything Drawer reveals: a cow bell, a remote control, diaper cream, various and sundry medicines, scotch tape, string, cough drops, pencils, a thermometer, an ear syringe, a puzzle piece, ribbons, and much, much more.

My husband periodically pesters me to organize the Everything Drawer. I politely explain to him that doing this would upset the Universe's precious balance and create a wormhole that would suck every useful item we have in our house into the permanent vacuum of space.

There is also the Important Drawer. This drawer's purpose is just how it sounds: everything Important goes in there. Permission slips, registration forms, the odd unpaid bill, bank statements ... you get the picture. The Important Drawer is like my own personal rip-cord. If it is Important, it is In There. If it isn't, it wasn't Important Enough and it must be somewhere on the kitchen counter, where it will be unearthed or stashed away the next time we have company and need to look like Normal People. I would take a picture of it for you, but on the off chance the City of Boston reads my blog I don't want them to see my unpaid parking ticket. But at least they would know I consider it Important.

This system rarely fails me. There is one qualification to all this, though. Items must make it into the house to begin their journey through my Organized Mess. Any item left in the car is Gone Forever. I struggled valiantly for years to keep my car free of clutter. I have decided that my time would be better spent engaging in less futile pursuits, like understanding Tax Code.

Then, of course, we have Laundry. The bain of my existence. My arch-nemesis. I have a precarious hold on my Laundry System. It goes something like this: (1) if the article of clothing belongs to my husband, wash it, fold it, and put it away so he thinks I do laundry. (2) if the article of clothing belongs to one of my children wash it and put it in the Clean Pile in the laundry room. The Clean Pile can be accessed several times a day, as needed, and at the end of the day items are placed in the Dirty Pile and the process begins again, like a Perpetual Motion machine. Laundry is done with such frequency in our house, to me it seems like the ultimate exercise in Futility to fold everything and put it away (perhaps even more futile than finding a lost item in my backseat). I don't want to talk about what happens to my articles of clothing; it would upset my carefully constructed Denial.

So I'm not going to change my Organized Mess. I can't tell you how, but I always know where everything is. My kid's left shoe? In the playroom in the toybox under Chompie the Dinosaur. My daughter's Leapster? Under the bed, behind the pile of books I asked her to clean up days ago. My phone charger? Oh, wait. It is in my backseat. Oh, well.


  1. In Candadian parlance, it's commonly referred to as the "junk drawer".

    You sound like you have much more sophisticated systems we I do. I'm taking notes!

    And how do you know where everything is? I often remember THAT I saw it. Somewhere. But can't remember which of 3 levels of the house it might be on, or whether it was in my purse, in the car or under a cushion in the living room.

  2. I have an everything drawer too.... I can always count on it to find what I am looking for.

  3. I happened to come across a tweet with this post in it, while working at cleaning out the everything drawer in my desk. Yes I admit it I have several everything drawers. (Actually one in every room except the living room. There I have a basket. Shhh..) Having realized the error of my ways, I swept everything back into the drawer, closed it and now feel truly liberated! Fighting the nature of the Universe was really hard work!

  4. Yep, we have a 'junk drawer' too! I also grew up with one. It was a large, top drawer in the kitchen.

  5. Ok, You are funny....and though I'm currently living in what we quaintly refer to as 'camping' decor/living status, due to renovations, my desk is my 'if it's going to be somewhere, it's there' place. If we can't find it there we assume it's in one of the hundreds of boxes we have lining the walls! So, you're officially on my read list for blogs--anyone who is part of the DaMomma crew and writes so brilliantly/reality enjoying as well, deserves readership! Keep up the good work--and as they say in France, Bonne Courage!! :)

  6. This post is genuis, my friend. You are a writer.

  7. Hi El. Liked this! My everything drawer is so jam packed that I can't fully open it!

  8. So Can one have an everything table or everything room, because it seems like I do!