Archive for November 17th, 2005


If I may, I would like to coin the term "Org!" My definition would be this: The cry emitted by a recovering sloppy person as he or she slogs through a lifetime's accumulation of assorted stuff.

I have been uttering "Org!" a lot lately, and I have to admit that the battle against entropy has been taking its toll. The professional organizer I hired, a very forceful woman named Agnes, seemed to sense that my determination was flagging. So yesterday, in the middle of one of our marathon sessions in my ultra-cluttered apartment, she sat me down for a little talk.

For a few long moments, we just sat there. Clearly, Agnes had something important and difficult to tell me, and was trying to formulate just the right words. I sipped my coffee, waiting and wondering: Was she going to dump me as a client? Had my cassette collection -- in which not a single tape is in its correct box -- finally pushed her over the edge? Or did our kitchen table, which magically fills up with tumblicious piles of assorted papers between each of her visits, represent the final straw? Had she lost hope of ever finding the final straw?

Remember, we're talking about a woman who has cleaned up some really bad situations. We're talking about a woman who says, with pride, "I learned organization in Germany." We're talking about a woman who sees the glass not as half-empty, or half-full, but half-an-inch out of alignment with the other glasses on the shelf. We're talking about a perfectionist. And if my little family is anything, I would have to say that we are staunch imperfectionists. Perhaps Agnes had finally met her match.

Finally, she spoke. "I think, Josh," she began, in her delightful Hungarian-Jewish accent, "that we must rededicate ourselves to the task at hand. We are about at the midpoint, I would say. And it is my experience, with many clients in the past, that this is the point at which they start to phase out a bit. If this behavior is not nipped in the bud, I know what will happen: we will get your apartment in good shape, but then I'll come back a year later and it will be a mess again."

She was right: I had been phasing out a bit. It's a massive endeavor -- not only to rationalize a very small living space that's filled with tons of stuff, but also to create new habits of neatness after a lifetime of sloth. In college my roommates often thought I was out, when I was simply behind all the newspapers and such. When I had my first apartment, in my early 20s, I bought some dishes, ate food on them, and placed them in the sink -- and in the sink they stayed, as I waited for the dishwashing fairy to come and clean them; by the time I moved out, a year later, that sink had become fit only for a science experiment. Even now, as a mature, middle-aged person who votes and is kind to animals, I get sleepy and disoriented when I try to focus on housework.

But that's not the person I want to be!

So I hereby rededicate myself to this organizational process. I have been a slob for 46 years, but shall remain one no longer. This is where I draw the line in the carpet. Hear me, world: Ich bin ein Organizer!

November 17th, 2005

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