Monday, March 23, 2009

Right Now and Not Right Now: A Matter of Choice?

This post's alternate titles: "Why I Hate The Weekends" or "How to Lose the Few Readers You Have In One Post". Watch how my post about organization slowly unravels from an organized, sequential order of points to purely random, unorganized, stream-of-consciousness idiocy. Nice. Only found here, at gudnuff. Enjoy.
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For those among us who are NOT "born organized" as FlyLady would say, organizing stuff requires enormous mental effort. Mostly in the form of remembering to do this foreign thing: to choose to organize your stuff. Because it's so easy to not even think about it. Stuff just falls where it falls, and you remember where it fell. That's it. That's how you know where your stuff is. My shoes are under the coffee table. I mean, duh. Where else would they be? I sit on the couch, I kick off my shoes, they are under the coffee table so no one trips on them. Simple. Easy. Obvious. Functional.

Proper organization requires re-ordering the natural distribution of things. For the non-born-organized folks, re-arranging the natural order of things does not come automatically. It is a choice you make (strive to make, anyway). A conscious choice that you must choose to think about. Oh, you mean I should move the shoes, to the closet in my room? Because shoes do not belong under the coffee table, it turns out. Oh.

To organize or not to organize. It's a constant tug-of-war within your consciousness. Not fun. Not obvious. Not easy. Often not very functional.

And if I choose to organize, where do I start? What do I pay attention to first? The shoes? But what about dinner? What about Q's school papers? What about the laundry? If you are not born organized, there seems to be a concomitant difficulty with prioritization.

Prioritization is an exhausting process for those of us not-born-organized. It's why I hate the weekends, in particular. And it's why I would FAIL miserably at being a Stay-At-Home-Mom. Here's a taste of what it's like:

Saturday morning, I awake naturally or from my daughter tapping me on the arm, usually around 9-ish either way, and I immediately begin to wonder: do I clean the house first, take my shower first, go to the store super-quick to buy cleaning supplies first (without even taking a shower because I'll just get grimy while cleaning and will have to take another shower later even if I take one now and why waste the time with the first shower when I could be on my way back from the store already by the time I got out of the first shower which is sort of a waste except who wants to be one of those grimy, unwashed people at the store and what if I see somebody I know who knows other people I know and tells them how gross and unwashed I looked at the store...)...?

I haven't even gotten out of bed yet. I'm already exhausted. My daughter is probably still standing there, blinking, patiently waiting for me to get up and walk with her to the couch and watch TV with her. Daddy is still asleep on the other side of the bed. If she gives me a kiss on the cheek, all thoughts stop and I spring out of bed and go with her. This is not conscious on my part. Springing into action is not something I think about when I get a kiss on the cheek (especially from Q). It just happens automatically. Q knows this. She figured me out long ago. She kisses my cheek. My feet immediately find the floor. Hand-in-hand, we're off to the couch together.

For folks like me, there is only Right Now and Not Right Now. What should I be doing Right Now? And how do I know? Should I be taking a shower Right Now? But Q will be an obnoxious teenager soon enough...watching TV with her head on my lap as part of our Saturday morning routine seems like what I should be doing Right Now.

Who actually has to spend more than half a heartbeat consciously thinking about stuff like this? Sounds crazy to people like my husband, I'm sure. I call him The Reverse Tornado (I'll send you a $20 money order if you come up with a name I like better. For real). Leo can walk through a room and in his wake, leave it immaculately organized, neat, pristine, well-ordered. I know not how he does this. It mystifies me. It is his Super Power, I suppose.

Overall, I've gotten better. I try harder than I used to. I tend to put my shoes away as a matter of course these days. I try to clean up after myself and keep the kitchen counters cleared of the day's activities. I put my dirty laundry in the hamper. Some things become a matter of routine, such as putting away all the groceries as soon as you walk into the house.

So, with all this in mind, how do I function on the job? I mean, the job that does not involve domestic duties, that is (the domestic one, I suck at, obviously). I function very well, as long as the priorities are clearly defined. Usually by someone or something other than me.

Which is one of the reasons I dropped out of the Ph.D. program I was in so long ago. Are you kidding me? Academic careers are all about the Ph.D. person choosing what to focus on Right Now. Ugh. It was torture. Especially theoretical linguistics. I mean, c'mon! Playing around with some grammar data set never lent itself a Right Now quality, as far as I was concerned, outside of some class assignment deadline. I guess the whole wide realm of Research and Development, in any sense, in any size, shape or way, would be applicable to this same condition of not having to be done Right Now. Unless you were trying to finish something before the competition did, of course. Assuming you cared about it to begin with.

Now, emergency medicine...there's something that has to be done Right Now. Or my current job...if the network goes down, holy smokes, you better believe it'd be my Right Now thing. But the funny thing is, with my current position, if you're good at what you do, you'll be bored, because the network won't go down. And it doesn't (oh gawd...if it goes down now just because I am writing that...). It's been stable for years at this point. Fairly stable. Shtuff happens, usually out of our control, but we're affected nonetheless. Little here-and-there things, but anyway, it's stable. It's reliable. Things are good. Good and boring. There are no Right Now things anywhere around. Somebody shoot me. I hate boredom more than anything. Any. Thing.

Oh, I know. I should submit my travel voucher for the trip to New Orleans. Duh! I could do that Right Now. What a concept. And it would make my husband so happy. Look honey, a reimbursement check. A real-live reimbursement check and there's still like, weeks, before the deadline! Weeks! Wow. How much do you love me now, eh?

Nothing sexier than a reimbursement check.

Except maybe actually depositing it. Like...Right Now.

And that's why I don't have my homework. Wait...what???!?


gudnuff said...

Did you really waste your time reading this trash? And then you clicked on the comments?!

Well, that's good, because you'll be able to follow the next post that references this one.

Also, maybe you'll have something to say about how this happens to you, or you have a friend who has a cousin who has a neighbor that knows somebody JUST LIKE THIS.

Mostly I want to know how YOU structure your "free" time. What is your Saturday routine? Anybody?

Random Real Estate said...

I also wasn't "born organized". I am a little better with the priority thing although lately I think I've got too many balls in the air (or stacks of work on my desk) to keep track. Then my assistant comes in and yells at me and all is right with the world.

A Lawyer Mom's Musings said...

Ah. The wonder of being a Maytag gal.

I'm not organized either. Not at all. And between you and me? I do not save every scrap of "art" and whatnot Mr. M brings home. I bought a cheap plastic "portfolio" thing to lie flat in the back of my trunk . . . and that's it. Take heart. You're not the lone ranger.

Trannyhead said...

So - I just moved in to my new place. And I swear, every time I do it I have great intentions. I set up everything JUST RIGHT and after a while, it inevitably descends into the usual madness. Ah, well. At least I have good intentions.

Cee said...

I'm with you- the best form of "organization" is just remembering where your crap fell last :) works for me!

Patois said...

Sorry to admit, but I'm like your husband. Just a natural talent. Or disability, I sometimes think.

Hyphen Mama said...

I'm still in the re-adjustment stage of going from working ALL THE TIME to being at home with little crying human beings. I am not adapting well, and I have zero skills at figuring out "what do I do now?". The kitchen counter? Chaos! The toys are everywhere and for reasons beyond my comprehension, I cannot contain them in their proper storage facilities. I keep referring back to my "old self" and how I used to be and it no longer applies. I'm in an organizational identity crisis.

Mama Dawg said...

What's absolutely astonishing to me is that I UNDERSTOOD EVERYTHING YOU WROTE.

Because I'm just like that.

But I don't even try. I just accept my disorganized self and go about my life.

At least you're trying!

blognut said...

Getting it right?

What? I don't get it. Can you right this again in english?

blognut said...

Write... I mean write it again... dammit, I look like a moron.

*leaving now*