I'm not a woman who has bought too heavily into the beauty myth. I'm really ok with the fact that there are 15 year old girls with better bodies than mine. I'm not lured by the shimmer and sway of advertising or tempted off the cliff of low self-esteem by scented magazine pages. I'm 41 years old. I've carried two 10 pound babies and had them cut from an impromptu sun roof in my uterus. I've suffered a few injuries, taken some self-inflicted blows and managed to stay on the heavier side of good looking for a long time. Where my self image is concerned, I'm cushioned by realism and bolstered by the long view.
But I never feel smaller, more ashamed, more flushed with envy, more resentful or yearning than when I turn the pages of a Container Store or Hold Everything catalogue. These taunting publications play on my deepest desire, the promise of a better life brought about through rigorous organization of my unsavory crap.
I am lured to this organizational porn like a teenaged boy to smut. I am nothing but a dirty little whore who wants the clutter to be spanked out of me by nesting baskets, my nipples pinched in the firm velcro clasp of a Filofax. Big bins make me hot. I'm am nothing more than a naughty minx, baited pink by the prospect of color coding, alphabetized spices and label-making. These are the forbidden fruit of a clutter-bound woman living in chaos, surrounded by slobs.
Every day is a fruitless attempt to sandbag against the levee breach of clutter that is raising a family in America. Public school is responsible for a tidal wave of useless paper. Crappy fundraising magazines offering twice-baked potatoes and frozen pot pies accumulate faster than I can curse them. Homework reminders, lunch calendars, coloring pages, book-ordering newspapers, volunteer requests, costuming instructions, permission slips and spelling words all arrive, an unruly rainbow of paper, pouring endlessly from bookbags and folders. Piles teeter on counters and flutter under the furniture. Is it any wonder that I stare, aroused, at a center fold of recycling bins, glistening on their smooth stow-away track systems?
Children grow at speeds that are, by their very nature, environmentally unkind. The clothes that fit them for nine minutes ball and collect in every drawer, behind every door, drip from hangers bent under the weight of their obsolescence. Closet systems that offer boot camp order bring out the bad girl in me, longing to be corrected.
Toys, videos, books, socks, garbage, bills and stuffed animals - all demand the firm hand of elfa mesh stacking systems, punctuate pencil cubes, airtight translucent totes and stockholm dividers separating them from unauthorized mingling and attempt at escape. If an ultra hold clamp system doesn't make my garden tools stand at attention, I don't know what will.
The promise of organization is so alluring, so deceiving. It makes me believe that the path to enlightenment is paved by homework centers with canvas in-boxes. My marriage will be made more lasting by hidden entertainment armoires and bill paying vestibules. Piles of laundry will clean themselves with sorting stations and soap dispensaries. I will be a better mother with a wall-mounted synchronicity folder holder. Toilet paper will never again run out, nor be out of reach - with tank-mounted side cars for extra rolls, even our anuses will be tidier.
But, like any decent fetish, the same lust that arouses me with its promise of release, brings shame and humiliation when the greedy page-turning reaches climax and I am left only with the damp upper lip of spent desire and the reality that I am nothing more than dirty woman, in an average house, with dust bunnies and clutter clamoring for attention. The lurid fantasy of the pristine is sullied by flaccid reality, and there is no system for filing it away.