Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Us and Them

There are 2 kinds of people in this world. I am one and Cherie is the other. We are becoming more like each other and I think that's a good thing.

Of course, her house will never be so messy that you couldn't drop by with the photography crew from Good Housekeeping, but she's sometimes able to let go of the fact that her baseboards are "trashed" in order to, say, fix dinner for her family(as if her dinner weren't planned for a week and prepared that morning).

Cherie's House

And I have many more organizational systems in place than I once did. Still, though, my house will never be so clean that you couldn't drop by with the photography crew from Clean Sweep.
My house

Did you know that organizational systems are a living thing? I know this. And yet... my systems fall into disrepair. Either because they are not working and need to be revamped or because I simply don't do the upkeep on the system.

I've talked to both kinds of people. Neither has any concept of how the other functions.

We'll call me a B Type. B Types tell themselves stories like, "My self esteem is not based on how my house looks" and "Having a 'house of order' means having your
priorities, not your desk straightened" and "We creative types thrive on chaos."

We're lying.

Deep down, we know that having a clean space brings a peace to our lives that we cannot obtain any other way and we know (from our limited experience with it) that order gives us the freedom to be more creative. We know that the "mess" rattles our brains and keeps us from doing the things that we are actually good at. In fact, we hardly ever get any satisfaction for doing the things that we are good at because WE CAN'T EVEN KEEP UP WITH THE BASIC NECESSITIES of running a healthy, functional home. Just like in the 4th grade: Miss Campbell wouldn't let me do the art projects because my math wasn't done. By the 4th grade, I had already identified myself as an artist. I failed art. In the 4th grade. How could I fail 4th grade art? Unless, well, I'm a failure.

But that should be a different post. They aren't judging us. At least not on purpose, but A Types really just don't get us. They wonder and are baffled that we just don't pull it together. They think maybe we don't want a clean house. That possibly we actually like germs or chaos or disorder. That maybe filth is where we find our odd brand of happiness. Truly, they know how much easier their lives are because they are organized and they do what they do TO MAKE THEIR LIVES EASIER. Heh. My favorite quote is,

"organized people are just too lazy to look for stuff."

Because it makes me laugh... And if i didn't laugh, i would cry.


The lies we tell ourselves? We do it to survive. We do it to justify, i guess, the fact that we simply do not have the strength or the knowledge or the skill or the willpower... the whateveritisyouAtypepeoplehavethatwedon't. We are baffled, too. If we knew what
it was, or how to get it, don't you think we would?

We buy books about
it. We collect them. Sometimes we find both the books (amid the drifts of clutter and pet dander) and the time and strength to actually read these books. We study it. We interview organized people about how they do it. We are even fascinated when we "meet" people like Julie Morgenstern, who claim in O Magazine to have once been one of us. This kindles the flame. Keeps the hope alive that we too may, one day, aspire to attain the status of "organized."

Because, really, they are "right" and we are "wrong" right? They are "good" and we are "bad." Don't try to say no. Do they want to be us? No. Do we wish we were like them? You betcha.
Again, the stories we tell ourselves about the fact that A types are mentally ill. Neurotic. They must be, to be so all consumed with such "trivialities."

Lies, I tell you, all lies. We would trade places in a heart beat (and just take our creative minds with us. hah! oh... wait, that wouldn't work).

I'm not blaming Julie. I think her ideas are great. I'm thrilled that she has become an effective person. I think learning organizational skills is important. I have learned lots of skills from my friendship with Cherie. Maybe the problem is that deep down i don't believe i deserve to or have the potential of being effective/having a fulfilling life. Or maybe my brain just will never work that way. Maybe I would be happier if I stopped trying. I think many of us (B Types) get to that point. Sooner than later.

Sorry this is such a depressing post. I'm to that point I guess. I spent the morning happily dejunking the mudroom with my son, congratulating myself that i could say, when
this son graduated from medical/law school, "You know, the only difference was that i worked with this son. Taught him the value of hard work by example. Yes, that's just what i did."

And then at 11:00, the phone rang. It was Mr. LeFevre. Upon hearing our son's voice in the background, he asks, "Didn't you take him to preschool?"

Why does that make me a failure? And yet, somehow, it does. And if I called Cherie, bless her heart, she would say, "You mean, you don't have 'Preschool' written in your planner?" Why would I need to write "Preschool" in my planner? How could I forget preschool? He loves preschool. Truth is, sometimes (only because she has said this before), I do write "Preschool" in my planner. And sometimes, I even look at my planner before 9:30 A.M. And sometimes, the words even make sense to me through the fog of my "creative mind." Just not today.

I am a failure. This erases all the good i have ever done. ever. And it stops me. I haven't even finished cleaning the mudroom. Maybe I'll go get a chocolate truffle from Costco out of the storage room. or a cherry vanilla diet Dr. Pepper. or a piece of australian black licorice. Oh, wait. I've already done those things. Maybe I'll just go switch over the laundry. After all, "Laundry" is written on my planner. December 7. Laundry.


AnnaNova said...

i could have written this post, it made me laugh... i sometimes switch to checking my email though, even if its not in my day planner, because, lets face it, what if i miss something REALLY important while im cleaning???? :-)
Anna Smolyaninova

Cindy at LottieBird said...

organizational systems are a living thing? I have too many other living things to take care of...

I am type A. Organization is hard for me. So is not having things organized. A conundrum. Or is that a palindrome? ;-)

more in a minute...had to write my thoughts before they flew out of my chaotic head (btw, the doc says my extreme need for order is to try to manage the chaos in my head. that's why I feel like I think and create so much better when there is order around me. She thinks I need to work on my mind instead of my house...)

Cindy at LottieBird said...

uhm, we all have different strengths?

my friend, Laura, used to clean her house every morning. I asked her how long it took, she said about 45 minutes for the upstairs (she vacuumed diagonal lines in the carpet). She said this like it was just a matter of simplicity and fact. I could only think, "where would I get 45 minutes in my day?!"

Laura is type A (like me--no matter how hard I try to change to a B, doc says I need to embrace my A). Laura doesn't clean her house anymore. She has started a business, an empire, actually. http://www.rethunk-junk.com/

Laura laughs now at how her priorities have changed. She admits she used to think, about those of us who do not clean our homes, that we just needed to "care."

I care. I just don't do.

Quiltgirl said...

I think the problem is that you think you are an A type. My point is that it is easier for Cherie to keep clean than not. Again, does she think being disgusting is easy for me? she thinks she is lazy because she does the easy thing (clean her house) (every day... in 45 minutes). I mean, she does it from her death bed. When I'm on my death bed, I die. she cleans her house... in 45 minutes.
I tell her that I could either A) kill myself trying to clean and never have the strength for anything I love or B) literally kill myself of C) give up some things (get to that point).
thank you. Just send me my MSW in the mail. hah!

bonnie jack said...

haha. december 7. laundry. that's good.

who writes in a planner anymore? put it in your android and set a reminder alarm. :)

Quiltgirl said...

I think it's a no win situation, Cin. We hate ourselves for not being A types, but when we stop trying, we hate ourselves for being disgusting. And when we are trying to be A, we hate the world because we are so exhausted. and then, sigh, we hate ourselves for hating.

Becca said...

I've always thought that I was an A, but with a B family. ;0) A constant battle. Sometimes I win, most of the time it's them.

As for your son, you're also educating him - it's called "Practical Living" and it's just as necessary as learning "ABC's".

Love the quote too!

Quiltgirl said...

I keep leaving comments on my own blog. Partly so i'll look popular (8 comments!!) but mostly because i can't shut up.
In an ideal world, wouldn't we all have an organized, spotless house under any circumstance? The more I think about this, the more I believe that it is ultimately about physical strength. A genetic, physical component.
It isn't that i don't want to think I'm an A type. I truly wish I were. It's my physical body. I really would not be physically well if i was constantly doing what it takes to keep it pulled together. Bonnie told me once, "You can have anything you want... as long as you don't want something else more."
So I understand that much of it is about choice and will-power and habits, but I think some of it is about chronic pain and depression, too. Or maybe those are just the excuses I use. Maybe I'm choosing to let the physical pain stop me. And so in the next generation, my children won't have the skills they need. It's kinda like Rich Dad/Poor Dad.

hoppersclasses said...

I have a little post-it on my printer that says: "losses count more than wins, and pain more than pleasure." I've learned that it's true, but I try not to live by it. It's hard.


bonnie jack said...

i told you that? sounds like something russell probably told me. :)

i'm debating between a nap and doing one of the 13 projects i'd like to get done. a nap would feel good, but so would getting a project done. blah.

Vicky said...

See, Bon, I keep putting stuff in my Android calendar. The alarm goes off. I think, "Oh, yeah, I need to do that", and for some reason I keep going into my gmail and changing the due date for them.
Being an A personality and has driven me crazy on the other end, you know that, right? It seems like all I ever have in my head while anyone is talking to me is the running list of stuff to do in my head. How is that fair to anyone around me? The kids follow me around trying to tell me about their day while I look like I'm listening. Half the time what they say sinks in (mostly when I realize what I'm doing and focus on them).
So...since I've had all these stupid surgeries that were designed to make me "healthier" I go slow, my brain is mush, I'm tired all the time. It took me almost all day the other day to clean two and a half bathrooms. I got my shower cleaned one day, the sink and mirror the next, and the rest is still waiting. I have found that it takes all of 5 min for my house to become trash. Hmmm, maybe I haven't actually ever been an A and I've faked it all these years with "to do" lists...
Being an A sometimes is not all it's cracked up to be, too. Lorinda, you are always so creative. You decorate your house so beautifully; you are always doing fun crafty things with your kids. I mean, the beautiful, amazing quilt you created for my Ian. You are SUCH a dear!!! I haven't done anything creative in years, and I don't have an eye for it. You do. Cherish who you are and stop trying to be like someone else. Play with your kids, experience life. If you find joy in that, then THAT'S what your kids will remember...not that you kept a clean house, but that you played with them and were creative with them. There are trade-off's for everything--don't lose sight in what's important. Relationships are more important than stuff.