I really really like the alphabet. And numbers in sequential order. And dates. And categories. Some of you will read this and say something along the lines of “Whaaaa?” And some of you will read this and nod your head knowingly and feel a kindred spirit at work.
My love of order comes from my dislike of chaos. Also, the only thing that irritates me more than Annoying Orange and Fred is having to spend 30 more seconds than is absolutely necessary looking for something. I have written about these topics before, and, if I typed them in correctly, you can find my previous whinings by clicking on the links.
Seriously, folks, I barely have enough time to shower, much less complete all the tasks that are on my Important Things To Do Yesterday list. I can’t waste any time looking for the tools I need to do basic things. That’s why, in my universe, everything is alphabetized and categorized and in date order. Unfortunately, I am not often allowed to live in my universe, as I live with three other people for whom the concept is baffling. You might call me O.C.D. I might call myself C.D.O. (which is like O.C.D. but with the letters in alphabetical order like they should be – ha ha). I recognize that my need for this sort of order borders on pathological. There is absolutely no reason on Earth why the red and blue plastic plates from Ikea that we regularly eat off of should go in the dishwasher in a red blue red blue etc. pattern. So I don’t get mad at anyone, or even say anything when they do something horrifying like blue blue red red red blue blue blue red blue. I just silently open the dishwasher and rearrange it.
I know better than to impose my sickness on anyone else. I don’t ask anyone in my house to understand my systematic categorization of the books on my shelf (subject, then alphabetical by author, with paperbacks separated from hardbacks) I merely ask them to put books to be shelved in a pile so I can satisfy my own neurotic tendencies. Which, by the way, I believe to be a positive, because despite the fact that I have about 200 books on the shelves, I can find any one of them in as long as it takes me to walk over to the shelf. Wouldn’t it be a great world if everything was like that? Sigh.
But I digress. A good bit of basic organization isn’t as ridiculous as my dishwasher and book system. Some of it just makes sense. My family went away during the fall break from school, and I stayed back because I had to work. While I was home alone, I went into the pantry to get a can of soup for my excellent gourmet dinner. What you need to know is that I have a Stay At Home Husband who is in charge of grocery shopping. (As a result, we have precious little food in the house that isn’t in a box or a can or flash-frozen, but that is a topic for another day.) We have a walk-in pantry, and I walked in, and saw that there were cans on various different shelves on various different walls. So, I drove to Lowes, bought some big wicker baskets and some smaller plastic buckets, and took everything out of the pantry and organized it. I found that we had no less than six bags of tortilla chips, four of which were opened; about 16 cans of Spaghetti-Os; three big boxes of salt; four boxes of brown sugar (three opened); and countless other duplicate items. I combined the duplicates as best I could, and organized it all on the shelves. Snacks go in this basket. Drink mixes and coffee go in this one. Cans are all on the bottom right. Baking supplies are all together, lined up nicely so we can see what we have before buying it again. This was in October, less than two months ago.
This weekend, I cooked two kinds of soup, taco soup and barley soup. For the taco soup, I used tortilla chips as garnish. When I went to take some to work today, I had to hunt for the tortilla chips, and finally found them behind the baking supplies. Of course, when making the soup, in getting a can of corn, a can of diced tomatoes, and a can of beans, the three cans were in different parts of the pantry. I ask you -- how hard is this? If it is round and encased in tin, it goes here. If it is crunchy, it goes here. And you don’t have to remember these rules, you just have to put like with like. I remember from basic high school chemistry that like molecules attract each other. Why don’t cans of Tomato Soup? We are fighting nature when we don’t do this, folks.
A few months ago we actually hired a professional organizer, the fabulous Dana Levey with Feel Better Atlanta (http://www.feelbetteratlanta.com/ ) who, among other things, organized the shelves we keep in our basement that have the extra supplies on them. (My husband will buy at least four of anything that is on a buy one get one free sale, at least eight if it is “new and improved”. This means that we are thoroughly prepared for the Zombie Apocalypse, but I digress.) She didn’t do anything fancy. She put the cans in one place, the snacks in one place, the dish detergent in one place, etc. This morning, I went downstairs to get some grownup cereal (defined as having at least one gram of fiber and less than one cup of sugar per serving and usually having some unappetizing name like “Twigs and Gravel – now with more woodchips!”) and, as is typical, there were things crammed on the shelves in bags, so you couldn’t see what they were, and so you had to step over them in a most unladylike fashion to get to the shelves and, gasp, I found several cracker boxes crammed in between the cereal boxes.
Like with like, people, like with like. It isn’t that hard. This is a chaotic world. Let’s create order where we can.