Neat Freak

There's a show called "Neat" (that I think runs on the Fit TV cable station) that involves the host going into people's messy and overflowing homes and helping them sort through mounds of stuff that have accumulated through the years, while simultaneously teaching them new methods for prioritizing whether something is worth keeping and if so, the proper way to store it so it's accessible and doesn't get dumped in some dark corner closet and forgotten.

This is my dream job.

I am ruthless when it comes down to what stays and what goes in my own home. I know what's in every drawer and closet in my house and if an item isn't where I look for it the first time, I know it's not in the house, period. Stuffed animals from childhood, gifts given by loved ones over the years that I no longer use or like (the gifts, not the friends), an expensive sweater I thought I liked in the store but then never wore...out the door they go.  Luckily, I'm married to a man who is mainly of the same mind set because from what I hear from friends, storage and what stays and what goes can be a sticky point in a marriage.

My one weakness is books. One dream that I think will happen  is I want to put bookshelves on every wall in one of our sitting rooms and turn it into an actual library. When that day comes, I will need piles of books to fill the shelves. Hence, my reluctance to part with them.

I LOVE helping other people sort through rooms of stuff in their homes. It's like a treasure hunt as you help them find forgotten memories and show them how it really is okay to let go of 5 years of back issues of newspapers and magazines that they're never going to read, no matter how much they say they plan to.

I know there are professional organizers out there and I even know a few, but my observations have been that's a hard way to make a living. People are reluctant to allow others into their mess of a home, and then they're reluctant to pay for the organizers time. (I suspect this is because in the back of their heads they're thinking, "I could do this myself." Which they could, except they've already proven that they won't...)

There's a home of one friend in particular that I'm dying to get my hands on. It's one of those homes where there are literally paths carved out amid the debris that allow you to travel from room to room.  I helped this friend clean her living room once and she was thrilled with the result. It sparkled and shown and everything had a home. "We are keeping this room clean!" she declared.

Yet within twenty minutes of the room being clean, a Pepsi can and bag of pretzels was left on the floor. Her daughter came out to blow-dry her hair and talk to us and the blow dryer was left plugged in on the floor next to the couch. The mail arrived and my friend tossed the junk mail on the mantle... It was like watching a dream dissolve in slow motion. I'd say within 48 hours the room looked as though we had never touched it.

I admire the mess in some people's homes. I have creative friends whose messy homes I think reflect--in the best way possible--the creative messiness of their minds. I almost can't think straight when my home needs straightening. I've got to have things in order around the house in order to be able to do my work and I see that as a limiting factor. So some dishes aren't in the sink--big deal. But it will make me mental until I put them away. There's such a thing as too much structure.

But we all have our quirks and oddities and are the stronger for them, yes? So I'll keep picking up cups and moving the lamp back 1/8 of an inch to the right when it gets bumped out of place because that's what I do best. And here's to celebrating on a lovely Friday morning whatever it is YOU do best. Cheers!