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There’s a neat freak inside. She’s just buried under paperwork

Submitted by on Wednesday, 5 January 2011 3 Comments

You know the mess is getting annoying when it’s bothering the slob in the family, a friend muttered as she stared at the pile of dishes in the sink.

It was only an afternoon’s worth, but with three kids and their two guests the toll from an afternoon can mount quickly.

I would have been facing the same pile at home, except I’d washed them hurriedly before we’d left for her house. It was my attempt to teach the guys a values lesson: Work before play. Neatness is a virtue.

Except my own desk screams “liar, liar, pants on fire.”

The bottom paper on the pile atop my printer is dated February 2010. The end of the stack on my laptop isn’t nearly as old, but that’s because that space is reserved for the “deal with it right now” pile.  Right now dates back only a few months.

Yes, I have a filing cabinet but the packers dented it when we moved and now one of the two drawers is difficult to open. A crowbar would help, but that would be just one more thing to clutter my alleged workspace. I’ve been meaning to buy a bigger, sturdier mover-proof cabinet, but the purchase keeps getting bumped down the priority list when one guy or another outgrows his shoes.

So I drown in my papers on a daily basis, freaking out when the guys go near my desk. “Don’t touch that pile! Believe it or not, I know where everything is in it.”

“You do?” Big Guy will ask. “Really?”

Really. Sort of. I know what pile I left it in, and I can find what I need with minimal use of words the guys aren’t allowed to say. And I can find it more quickly than they can locate their shoes every morning.

I was not raised like this. My mom has a tall secretarial desk in her dining room, with boxes of neatly organized canceled checks, tax forms and other important paperwork. It’s probably in chronological order. Remnants of our childhood are neatly stowed in the attic or in the closets of our former bedrooms. They’re probably in chronological order, too.

I do go through brief periods of recovery. Just before we moved, I handed my husband a pile of color-coded folders. Some contained documents he’d need to arrange for housing, while others were forms required to register the guys for school. Every where he went, paper handlers were impressed. “Wow,” they’d whistle. “Your wife is really organized!” He chuckles to himself, because he knows the truth.

I also go through spurts where it drives me mad, but I’m never bothered enough to get rid of it once and for all. There are too many other things to do that are more interesting than sorting year-old paperwork. I’ll do that the next time we move.

At least the crapalanche on the dining room table is gone, but only because we actually eat there now.

“I’m not a dirty person,” my friend said in her defense. As if defense is necessary – she’s seen my house. “I’m just not a very tidy one.”

I hear you. Oh, do I hear you.

Copyright 2011 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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  • Nigel Legg said:

    Must be something in the name! It sounds just like our home. We spend varying amounts of time trying to keep up but the paper mountains and the three mess makers we sometimes call children tend to defeat us most of the time!

  • Debra said:

    On rare occasions – and it’s usually when they want something, like a friend to sleepover – mine will actually help. But not often!

  • Keep your hands off my desk. Please. | 9to5to9 (author) said:

    [...] built-in book case where I could neatly stack the files that won't fit into the dented cabinet that never is going to get replaced because they guys always need something. I'm thinking that system would work much better than my current method of keeping their hands off [...]