The Mess Of The Desk

clutteredI have a drop-lid desk.  It’s very small and sits in the corner.  When I go away for any length of time, I organize it, shut my computer off, push it back in its place and close the lid.  My desk becomes an attractive piece of furniture — until I get back.  Unfortunately, once the lid is closed, nobody knows what goes on in there, and every time I come home and open it up, all hell breaks loose.  This is what I invariably find.

Mail — Here’s the deal: my bank pays my bills, my job is electronic and my friends (normally) live in the 21st century — so — I don’t get mail (except one monthly magazine that hasn’t figured out my subscription ran out in the 80s.)  However, the minute I leave my desk for more than one sleep …
Every pizza joint, realtor, Sham-Wow salesman, car dealership and landscaper has a burning need to tell me how cool they are.
Junk food throughout the known universe is on sale.
The federal government suddenly has two new pension options they want to share with me.
Tony, from high school, found some old photos he thought he’d just “send along.”
Great Aunt Vera got the dates mixed up and sent, not one but two, birthday cards — three months early.  (Yay!  Lottery tickets!)
And the whole stack, teetering on self destruction, just needs the vibration of my footsteps to slide backwards into, and get irretrievably tangled up with, the other evil — paper.

Paper — Clearly, the 3 or 4 hand-written notes-to-self I left neatly in the corner were overcome by separation anxiety and panicked — ’cause there’s paper everywhere.
Post-it notes, in colours I don’t even own, stuck in places I never stick them.
Telephone numbers, written on scraps of paper — without names, area codes or explanation.
A napkin with the address, 1641 Vine #202, written in scrolling script.  (Holy crap! The “i” is dotted with a heart!)
Receipts — lots of receipts.  (Who bought the toilet paper, mushrooms, ice cream scoop and hand sanitizer?)
The warranty card from a can opener that broke two Christmases ago.
A refund cheque from Costco.
The airline itinerary I couldn’t find.
And one cryptic message (in my handwriting) that just says, “Freeze the meat!”

Then, after fighting with the paper for hours, I make the mistake of turning on my computer.

WTF? Nobody gets 282 emails in a week!

Life Hacks: A Personal Journey

lifehacksI’m not in love with Martha Stewart or anything (that would be weird) but I’m a total sucker for Life Hacks — those simple little strategies that would organize my life.  For example, if you pin your socks together when you wash them, the dryer won’t eat one — plus they’re already sorted and ready to go back into the sock drawer when they’re dry.  This is a brilliant time saver.  Full disclosure: I don’t pin my socks together — doing laundry is a big enough pain in the ass without dickin’ around with pins and socks.  However, I know in my soul that if I did pin my socks together, my life would be way better.

And this sock situation is just the tip of the iceberg.  I know there are thousands of people who take the time to place their electrical cords neatly in toilet rolls — for easy and convenient storage.  They’ve colour-coded their closet to simplify their morning routine.  They keep their pasta in brightly-labelled Pringles™ containers and have a pre-printed itemized grocery list tacked to a bulletin board they made from used wine corks.  These are the people who show up for work in a re-purposed wardrobe, looking as if they just escaped from GQ magazine.  They have a 12 grain healthy lunch they made the night before and a dozen hand-decorated cupcakes to share.  They keep all their business junk in a cute little tote made from old ice cube trays and can find three different sizes of paper clips at a moment’s notice.  I could be one of those people.  I really could.

The problem is I never remember to save my old toilet rolls, or Pringles™ containers or any of the other bits of useless crap these Life Hackers are always using.  I don’t have a handy supply of tacks, staples, string, wire, old picture frames, fabric, wool or canvas.  I don’t have pinking shears, a sewing machine or a grommet maker, and I haven’t spent enough quality time with a hot glue gun to do more than glue my fingers together.  Let’s face it, Life Hacking is an expensive proposition that takes a lot of time, effort and planning.  So even though I know my salvation runs through toilet roll Purgatory, the fact is I’m too broke and too damn busy to actually get organized.

I Hate My Stuff

stuffI’m getting overwhelmed by my stuff.  Not the regular stuff, like tables and chairs or the fridge or the microwave, but all the bits and bobs that have accumulated in my life without my knowledge.  The stuff that showed up one day and just never went away.  The second letter opener hiding in my desk, the plastic container shaped like an Oreo cookie, the Lake Wobegon cup, the book of British Hallmarks that’s two millimetres too tall for the shelf, and on and on.  This isn’t stuff I need, or stuff I even ever wanted; it’s just stuff that belongs to me.  And it’s all good stuff.  It isn’t broken or anything — or useless — like those electronic cables to nowhere neatly wrapped and arranged in the bottom drawer of my file cabinet.  These are perfectly good inanimate objects that I just don’t know what to do with.  However, there are some options;


1 — I could just throw the junk away.  Not likely!  I grew up in a time when tossing useful things in the trash just because you didn’t want them anymore was a mortal sin — one that no amount of Hail Marys could cleanse. ( And believe me, the last thing I need is another sin on my soul.)

2 — I could recycle everything.  Unfortunately, I’ve always been sceptical about our contemporary out-of-sight/problem-solved approach to unwanted items.  Nobody has ever successfully explained to me what happens to things after they get “recycled.”  Personally, I think “recyclable” is just a feel-good word for trash that doesn’t smell.

3  — I could donate it all to charity.  Good luck with that!  I have a feeling there aren’t many poor people who really need or even want a set of My Little Pony shot glasses (Don’t ask!) So the fact is any charity I choose would probably only end up being a halfway house on the way to the landfill.

4 — I could pack it all in boxes, stash the boxes in the back of the closet, never speak of it again and hope the executors of my will don’t curse me for the coward I am, as they’re carting the crap off to the dump.


5 — I could just move the stuff around so it looks different and hope I can fool myself into thinking I’ve actually made an effort to finally take care of the situation.

Sounds good.  Problem solved!