Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Sort Me, Stack Me, Make Me Behave

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.


  1. It's funny, I share your lust, but when I buy organizational baskets I find that it ends up being more crap in my house that I have to find a place for. It NEVER looks like the catalog. I don't have a lovely birch wood shelf to arrange my nesting boxes on. And of course, their crap, when filled with my crap, just ends up looking like, well... crap.

  2. So damn true. You just chase the dream and wake from it daily, in a mass of shit.

  3. My god. Again, you are strumming my pain with your fingers. I read your piece with a strange grin on my face and a high pitched but quiet squeal of knowing delight.
    I have a friend who is one of those professional organizers, and she said that she hates the container store, because when she goes in there, she gets anxious thinking about all of the people who will misuse the materials.
    I am one of those people.

    You need to write a book. It would undoubtedly be the best book in the world.

  4. all I can continue to say is, you are a genius who manages to capture in the written word what is just so heinous about the 21st century. I could go on, but I will wait for your next brilliant blog entry.
    Debbie is correct about the book you need to write.

  5. Though you know I have no organizational skills, and how these pockety wonders would surely become layered junk in my house, now for some reason I really want one... hmm.
    And ooh what a dreamy chorus to join.. Yes, a book, I need it worse even than an ultra hold clamp system..

  6. Oooooh I LOVE storage too, just looking at it on glossy pages or stroking it in shops, yes YES YES. Although the best storage in my house is a stout recessed cupboard with a sturdy door,everything goes in and nothing comes out......

  7. wow....read my mess...I loved reading this and am glad that Deb Polansky is my daughter in law so I caught this on FB..I will now be a fan of your blog.

  8. "It's going in the garbage if you bring one more of those baskets home with you," said my beloved upon hearing my announcement that a company giveaway day was occurring the next day. As you know, I work for the company that supplies Container Store with half of the "goodies" in their store. Those organizational baskets are great if you use them...but not so great if you let them pile up in the corners of your basement...organizing your dust bunnies.