Trying to Get Organized

depth of field photography of file arrangement

There are people, and you’ve likely met some of them, hell, some of you may even be some of them, who are, and there’s simply no polite way of saying it, organized. You know the type. The types who always take out the correct recycling on the right night. Who never misplace their car keys or ATM cards or young children.

And these people, when they are not busy alphabetizing their receipts, schedule some time to look down on those of us who are disorganized, although that term is now considered offensive; Unfortunatley, the preferred nomenclature is still being beta-tested, so, for the moment we’re stuck with “disorganized.”

Anyway, the “undisorganized,” as I call them, insist nah that becoming more organized leads to more efficiency, which paves the way for less stress, more free time, and more mental, emotional, and physical space, which in turn begets a feeling of calm and optimizes creativity. Personally, I think that’s asking a lot from, say, Post -It Notes, but I confess I have alway found a certain logic to their argument.

For example, I’m 53, but if you subtract all of the cumulative time I’ve spent looking for my wallet or car keys, I am only in my late 20s.

It isn’t easy for me to be organized. And it’s not like I’ve never tried. A couple of years ago, Netflix instructed us to throw out anything that didn’t “spark joy.” I dove into that project head-first, but after discarding all of the non-joy-sparking items I owned, I ended up naked in an empty apartment.

Worse yet, it wasn’t my apartment.

Regardless, my friends, family, therapists, pharmacists, and more than a few extroverted strangers have assured me that, whatever I am doing now in terms of, as they put it, “stumbling blindly through the final decades of your life,” needs a serious reset.

So, I determined once more to go into this organizing thing, and go in whole hog. Well, in total candor, 3/4 hog, as there are parts of a hog that realistically would only hinder my organizing.

I was also told the first thing I should do is make lists. And so I dutifully set about doing so, some of which I share with you now:

My Dogs:

  1. Daisy
  2. Donovan

So far, so good. “This is EASY!” I thought with glee. But then, I was overcome with worry that Donovan might someday resent I listed him second; they say animals can always sense these things, so I compiled a second list just cover my bases (which wasn’t easy to do, dear Reader, as I couldn’t find my base covers anywhere, because I’m disorganized).

My dogs (In Descending Order of Size)

1) Donovan

2) Daisy

As you might imagine, I was pretty tired by now, but knew I should keep going, as the only thing standing between me and living a life of efficient bliss was the discipline to compile just a few more lists.

Now, as you’re no doubt thinking and I came to appreciate only in retrospect, I should have drilled down more on what exactly these lists should focus on. It’s easy to realize that in hindsight, but I think we’ve all felt the peerless intoxication that can only come from going on a list-making bender. I quickly rattled off another:

Ten of my worst attempts at dissing someone in a Facebook thread and/or Sick Burns I’ve yelled at fellow motorists:

1) The draft picks on your fantasy sports teams seem at best arbitrary!
2) You know nothing of my inner longings!
3) You’re left-handed & hence an aberration!
4) You’re right-handed & hence banal!
5) You would make a tedious Master of Ceremonies, regardless of the occasion being celebrated!
6) You are seldom punctual!
7) Your cousins are on the whole more successful than you.
8 My knowledge of trivia regarding the Titanic leaves yours woefully wanting!
9) The color schemes in your home are trite! TRITE!
10) You seem the type of person whose taste in music I would have little regard for!

Inspired, I immediately wrote down another:

Ten Cities I Have Never Spent Time in with Danny DeVito*:

  1. Winnipeg, Manitoba
  2. Lisbon, Portugal
  3. Stokeley-on-Thames, England
  4. Budapest, Hungary
  5. Evansville, Indiana
  6. Rennaissaince-Era Florence
  7. Montpelier, France
  8. Montpellier, Vermont
  9. Montpelier, Idaho
  10. Battle Creek, Michigan

* This was my first real snag. The problem with this list, I realized early on, is that cities are big places, and therefore the only way I could know for certain that beloved character actor and national treasure Danny DeVito and I hadn’t spent time together in any given city was to list cities I have never been to, or, in one case, a city I’ve visited several times, but during a period in which neither of us was alive. It was a foolproof idea, if you thought about it, but only if you thought about it very, very quickly.

By now, I’d started to wonder exactly how these lists would make me more organized. I’d now made several, but didn’t feel any more organized. In fact, I lost four pens while writing them. And I was writing on my laptop. Which I lost twice.

But, I trenchantly observed, the whole reason I’m making these lists is that I’m not organized, I’m the last person who should try to figure that stuff out. Armed with that piece of unassailable reasoning and a long nap, I pressed forward.

Ten Catchphrases/Idioms/Words I Have Tried and Failed To Make Popular Again

  • “It’s raining men!”
  • “Huzzah!”
  • “Saaaay, what’s the big idea?”
  • “The cat’s pajamas”
  • “Victrola” (I feel technology was working against me on that one)
  • “23 skidoo!”
  • “You sank my battleship!!” (I tried to make it too sexual, in retrospect)
  • “Silence, knave!”
  • “Your milkman is hard to converse with at parties!” (That was more something I made up myself as the ultimate mic drop dis, but it never caught on.)
  • Routinely referring to strangers “Mack.”

I was feeling pretty good about these lists, especially as I’d lost two more pens and was sure I was making progress.

However; I was quickly disabused of this confidence by my so-called friends. “The list,” I was told with what I maintain was an unnecessary display of exasperation, “Should be about taking inventory of your possesions and getting rid of what you don’t truly need.”

Well sure, it makes sense once someone phrases it like that. So I gave it one more shot. Things I should get rid of. Ok:

Ten Household Items I’m Hanging On To Only Out of Sentimental Attachment And/Or They Are Also Nicknames I’ve Encouraged People to Call Me:

  • My curated collection of novelty fly swatters shaped like hands.
  • A 1:1 scale Lego model of all of my Lego sets
  • The Paint Stripper
  • The Long Extension Cord
  • The Widowmaker (now this was something I knew I should chuck, because, as some of you may know, The Widowmaker is not a standard household item. It is, in fact, a large rollercoaster, which I had won in a contest a few years back by succesfully naming the astrological signs of all the Vice Presidents. Now, was it a good conversation piece? It was a great one. But still. Organizing was going to require some sacrifice.)
  • The Freezer (I decided in the end to keep this. It’s a kick-ass nickname, and it’s an invaluable visual aid when I hold my presentations to convince people to call me by that name)$
  • My vast collection of Civil War reenactment uniforms, weaponry, and paraphenalia, even though I don’t participate in Civil War reenactments.
  • The Old Weed Wacker
  • Most of my living room, a.k.a., “The Chia Pet Sanctuary”
  • Lazy Susan

Once again, when I shared what I had done, my efforts were met with scorn, derision, and in one unfortunate case, a restraining order. I came to realize that while being organized made some people more efficient and calm, there are others like me for whom the act of organizing is a great stress inducer. And while a clean, organized life gives some the illusion of control, it is just that: an illusion. And I refuse to live that kind of lie. Not lies in general, obviously; I’m obviously willing – need – to live many other kinds of lies. But that’s straying from the topic.

Published by Jack Canfora

I'm an award winning and losing playwright and screenwriter; I'm a dad of two great kids, an aggressive spoiler of dogs, and hopelessly addicted to baseball and The Beatles. I have no recollection of ever having worn a mullet, yet photos in the 80's say otherwise.

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