Life Notes: Disorderly Conduct
Deciding to get my life together – well, kind of

There are women who yearn to go to spas to indulge in massages and hot stone therapy. I am not one of them.

There are some who would sell their souls for a diamond ring of impressive size and shape or a sexy, silver Jaguar. Count me out.

But I have yearnings too. What I really want is to organize my life.

Everywhere I turn there’s a mess. Every drawer I open is overstuffed. My wallet needs a makeover as desperately as I do. And my closet – well, let’s not go there.

Neatness is not in my DNA. Never has been. Even my mind is not neat, as my husband will happily attest. I start sentences I never finish. I am as easily distracted as a 3-year-old at an amusement park, and I never seem to finish things like folding laundry.

I was a kid who drove my parents crazy. My father, especially, wanted to get his younger daughter organized. He spent hours setting up a bedroom desk for me, teaching me how to keep my closet in pristine order, even how to arrange my loose-leaf notebooks. I can still recall the look on his face a few days later when he saw what had become of his efforts.

So I dream on. The wreckage of my existence is symbolized by the kitchen junk drawer, which has taken on a life of its own. Last week, I found daughter Nancy’s college freshman term paper on imagery in “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” Nancy herself now has a son in college, meaning that term paper has been in that drawer for decades, lodged under a pile of doilies. Perhaps there is some obscure connection there, but it’s lost on me.

If some saintly person would just appear at my door and agree to dig in, I’d even accept the shame and humiliation because at the finish line, I would be organized. A mess-free life. A day that would start without the mad scramble to find, in this approximate order: one of my eight pairs of reading glasses, my wallet, the coffee filters, my favorite lipstick and my tan skirt.

From the moment I open my eyes, I’m stalking something. I’m sure there are women out there who would never lose library books, their sneakers and yes, a winter coat I devoutly believe is lurking somewhere in the house. How does a grown woman lose a winter coat? I wish I knew.

My husband, it should be noted, can find almost everything he owns. His childhood collection of coins. Every book he has ever read. Every T-shirt and key chain and check stub.

It’s maddening that while I’m desperately searching for – well, everything – he is quietly locating the one business card we need because, lucky man, he was born that way.

These days, instead of searching for a terrific fall wardrobe, I’m into the profound mystery of how to arrange my scarves so they don’t end up as a hopeless mass of gossamer fabrics and unrelated colors in a dresser drawer that won’t close.

But yesterday, I hit upon it. I will organize a yard sale. A colossal, spectacular, best-of-show yard sale. Given my penchant for other people’s yard sales, the inventory will be vast. So now I know how I’ll spend my fall, winter and spring.

I will attack the 27 cartons in the basement marked “miscellaneous,” the most seductively dangerous word in the English language for people like me.

Today, I actually spread the contents of one of those cartons on the basement floor and found myself staring at hideous vases we had moved from house to house, camp towels from three daughters’ middle-school summers, a box of curtains from four houses ago and Amy’s hockey stick from high school.

I sat on that cold, hard concrete and suddenly got misty. I found sentimental reasons for keeping the camp towels, the curtains and the hockey stick with “Friedman” scrawled on it. But three hideous vases are now in their own carton newly labeled “yard sale.”

Every journey starts with that first momentous step.

October 2016
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