Are you for real?

Posted on March 8, 2013. Filed under: Are you for real? | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Took-Out-The-Garbage“You are actually for real.” The woman sitting in front of me says how happy she was when her friends came over for dinner, and expressed appreciation for her showing exactly how messy her home looked like in reality. “I mean, I did not want to put effort into cleaning. I wanted to focus on cooking good food.” Still I sensed a rebellious side in her. Someone who wants to protest against everything being so perfect all the time. Protesting on how we sit at dinners and brag about how great everything is, when it really isn’t.

The sun has been shining reminding me of spring, although I had to scrape a frosty car this morning. When the week started in south of Sweden, I discovered that some already wore spring jackets and colorful sweaters. I felt completely wrong in my thick brown winter jacket. But when the week ended in a much colder north of Sweden, I was glad to wear it.

“Are you organized, Petra,” I was asked on a radio show recently. And I always react when I hear that question. Who is the judge? Who decides if I am organized or not? Perhaps it is I who am the judge of that? And if so, with whom do I compare myself?

It is difficult to work with efficiency for seventeen years, and not embrace some tips along the way. I love to be organized mostly since it is so much easier and more pleasant. But if I compare myself to my partner, I sometimes wonder how organized I really am?  I do not have access to the laundry room, since my loved one think I’m too careless with sorting the clothes.

A rational General in me wants to just get it done in the shortest possible time. It may mean that the laundry is only divided into three piles: light, dark and color. My partner divides everything in bright, dark and colored and in 40-degree and 60-degree, ie, six piles. He also has a special basket for hand washing and one for anything red. Nothing is washed until there is a full load of any sort. Thus it can mean that it takes a while before the clothes are back in the closet again. Earlier we had a special basket for poison green clothes, which resulted in a summer dress of mine being washed just before Christmas next time. When I talk to my friends about it, they just want to hit me hard. “Don’t even think about complaining on your husband doing all the laundry, we are not interested in hearing about it. Buy more poison green. That will solve it. ”

What about the mess at work and in our homes? How much does it cost us in space, money and time?

On average we are searching 45 min per day for stuff at work, which quickly calculated is 5 working weeks in a year. At home we are searching even more, about an hour, for keys, bills and important papers to the children’s school that we know that we put in “the perfect place”. Most commonly we are looking for a pair of glasses (that are usually on our head).

At work, I can still find some messy offices, with three or four cups with different degrees of old coffee in. 2-3 calendars, containing different notes only to confuse the brain. Some have a couple of different pen stands with varying degrees of functional pens, staplers, stamps since the old days, rolls of tape, scissors, photos on children and grandchildren, husband or wife. I have found an ex-wife once too. Her photo was still there out of old habit. But most common is the mess in the computer, with folder structures that are as imaginative as a five-year-old’s drawings. Long rows of folders taking forever to put something in, or absence of folders and thousands of emails in the inbox.

On the coffee break I can hear participants’ stories on how they last had their car in the garage in 1984 and how there are all sorts of clutter, which they dare not throw away. They rent additional space somewhere else to have room for everything. They procrastinate clearing out closets, attics, drawers and complain about the hallway being a catastrophe. Panic breaks out when guests are invited home. Where can we hide the ironing pile? In the laundry basket?

“When I grew up everything had to look perfect. All in our house had to be in top order and look like a decorator’s magazine. The first time I experienced a dust ball was at 18 when I moved from home. The more I think about it, the more I realize that it’s my childhood that I rebel against, by insisting to have a messy home. “

I listened quietly to my participant and explained that the answers to why we do what we do many times are about patterns from childhood, that we follow or try to break. A friend of mine grew up in an incredibly messy home where the only order you could find, was in his room. He works as an interior designer today. Guess if he likes white and clean lines? I have another friend who used to throw herself on the floor combing carpet fringes when people walked out the door. Her mom was a super perfectionist.

I am neither a perfectionist nor careless. I like a system that allows me to find things when I need them; it makes life easier and simpler. I like to have clean surfaces around me. But if I open a box of pencils, they will not be sorted by colors and sizes. And what if I never learn how to sort the laundry into eight piles? The odds are very tiny that I ever will. And I think I can live without poison green.

Wishing you an efficient weekend

Petra Brask

“If your house is really a mess and a stranger comes to the door greet him with,” Who could have done this? We have no enemies. ”
Phyllis Diller


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