Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Tuesday: Desktop Management
Mea culpa. The Dog ate my Homework. I will be right on time next Tuesday, scout's honor.
Despite my children's opinions, I am not a neurotic neat freak. Any normal person coming to my house would realize this. I was brought up in a house that was, essentially, my parents' shared artistic project, and when I left anything lying around the family rooms, I heard about it. Thus, my room--up a ladder from the other living areas, and rarely visited by my parents--was messy. My first college room-mate found me annoyingly untidy. It really wasn't until I got my own room at college that I started practicing a certain amount of order, because I had no other space that represented me.
As I got older and the jobs I did became more complex, I found that I needed to keep my environment at least minimally tidy, not so much because it was easier to find things, but because I found it easier to focus in an environment that was not too chaotic. I'm fine with a fair amount of disorder, but go over the line and I start to feel oppressed by it. I know where the line between acceptable and oppressive lies--but I don't live alone. I live with three people (and a dog) who have different setpoints than mine for organizational squalor.
I was thinking about this because of my husband's computer desktop. The desktop of my laptop has maybe four files sitting on it, and the icon for my hard drive. The desktop of his computer has two or three dozen files on it, in no particular order. This seems to work for him; he can find what he's looking for, whereas I look at his desktop and my life passes before my eyes. It's his desktop, not mine. So I have to wrestle with my impulse to put things away, or at least organize the files in a way that makes sense to me. It's the same thing in the girls' rooms; I have a hard time going in to clean up and reorganize, because I feel strongly that the way things make sense to me is not necessarily the way things make sense to someone else. But if I don't get things tidied up, I do start to feel a little crazy, which spills over onto my ability to remember who has what activities that day and whether we have milk and butter or not.
So what are my options? I rarely go on the husband's computer, so I don't have to be offended by his desktop. I could, I suppose, refuse to go into my daughters' rooms. But what of the dining room table, which accretes mail, homework assignments, spare socks, bills and other nonsense with frightening speed? What of the kitchen counters, where half-used BART tickets and notes home from school and Scouts vie with dirty dishes? I am left with one of two conclusions/options: 1) no one else in the house sees these things, and thus it is for me to clean them up; or 2) everyone sees them, but hopes that someone else, which would be me, will clean them up. You notice that in the end, it all falls on me. Someday I will burst this bud of calm and blossom...