Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Getting Organized

by Judy Merrill Larsen

Some of my nearest and dearest will be laughing themselves silly with the title of this post. I tend to be cluttered. I have good intentions, but I've always been able to ignore mess if I have a good book to read or the NYT crossword to solve. I straighten up the coffee table in the family room, but within a short time it's crowded with my stuff. I'm often asked if I outline my novels and I laugh and respond that only if post-it notes stuck on my laptop and various legal pads counts as outlining (and, as an English teacher for 15 years I know it doesn't).

I do try. I have a file for all my 2007 tax receipts. I just can't always find the file. (Oh, and yes, I know I should put it in my file cabinet. I'm not stupid.)

And, I'm not a slob. I just keep things. And I have yet to find the perfect organizing system.

In some areas, though, I have systems in place. In my classroom, each class was color-coded. Red handout? Fourth hour. Grading sheets? Green. But I frequently lost my keys under the mounds of papers and files on my desk. My recipes are neatly divided in my recipe box. But, sometimes I use a recipe for a bookmark in a cookbook.

All that said, I love having a structure, a rhythm to my day. I get the coffee ready the night before and I make sure that there are four cans of Diet Mountain Dew (ick. yuck. gross.) in the fridge for my husband who, while not a coffee drinker is a caffeine needer. I not only make a list before I go to the grocery store, I plan out the dinner menus for the week. I do crosswords in ink.

So, that's why I love this time of year--we're about to get back to school. Structure. Set schedules. Every June, along with the kids, I celebrate the arrival of summer vacation--no nagging about homework, no late night runs to Target for posterboard. No pleading with the school custodian to please, please, please let us in to the part of the building where a certain locker is with a certain chemistry book inside of it.

But . . . by the end of July (and maybe a tad earlier) my husband and I start whispering to each other, "When does school start?" Because the kids, as kids do, view every night as Friday night. Their alarms aren't going off at 7 a.m. But ours are. And we still ask our kids to wake us up when they get home. And that ranges from midnight to 3 a.m. And teenagers are nocturnal nightfeeders. And we're tired. I'm ready for the house to be empty for 6 or 7 hours every day.

So, right now, I'm rejoicing as much as the kids are grousing. The schedules have arrived. The summer reading is 50% done. The college books are ordered. One has already headed back to school; another is in week 3 of his job two time zones away. And on Monday, I will have a quiet house by 8 a.m. and will be able to gather all the post-its and other scribbles and get down to the business of finishing the final (or so I think) revisions of my novel so I can send it off. But right now laundry calls. Hope the buzzer on the dryer doesn't wake any of the sleeping kids.


Barb McKone said...

My house is suddenly half-empty, and I've slept for more than five hours for the first time all summer. I'd forgotten what sleep felt like! I know the feeling, Judes!

Daisy said...

"if I have a good book to read or the NYT crossword to solve..." -- my philosophy exactly!

Kathryn Magendie said...

Hello... stopping to say hello, Judy...