Crumbs Under the Kitchen Table
"I wasn't supposed to live in a too-small house surrounded by the chaos and clutter of family life, books and toys underfoot, crumbs under the kitchen table, and clothes that never quite make it into the hamper."
--Elspeth, of Jabberwocky, on March 18, 2000
I have a complex relationship with chaos.
I like to think of my life as reasonably ordered and fairly routine. I don't mind a certain degree of spontaneity, demonstrated by my frequent book/cd/video/dvd shopping binges, but I like walking the same route home, walking the same route in the grocery store, taking the same bus to work, keep a systematic system at work to be sure I'm on top of things. Occasional short adventures are fine but wanderlust and unpredictability is something not in my blood.
However, chaos invades my life in a number of annoying ways, many of them natural traits that I just can't get rid of. My regular and routine nature fosters the chaos that I dislike.
I always lose my keys. I don't want to lose my keys. I try to make a habit of placing my keys in a regular place, but for some reason, my mind refuses to get into the habit. It's a routine that I go through atleast one a week. The last time I lost my keys, I decided to attach the keys to my purse.
I now lose the purse.
I am also a pack rat, especially with paper. I'm terrified of throwing anything away (just in case I need it someday!) and occasionally find receipts and lists I've made ten years ago pressed between the pages of books. Last week, I picked up The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, a battle-worn copy that I've had since I was 8. When I opened it, an index card dropped out of it. I bent over to pick it up and look at it. The pencil was blurred to the point of being unreadable on most of the card, but I was able to make out some faint lines and I slowly recognized what it was.
It was a copy of my trigonometry notes that I made back in high school. Or junior high. Something that I would have used to drill myself of the equations as I walked to school before a test. Did I throw it out? No, I stuck it back in the book and continued to use it as a bookmark. I've since returned the book to my shelves without removing the card. Perhaps ten years from now, I will pick it up again, have the index card fall out and smile.
And I would put it back in the book for another ten years.
I combat this nasty habit by having ceremonial purges every once in a while. I'm in the process of one right now. I'm moving stuff from my boxes (still haven't been put away since we moved) to the shelves my parents purchased for me. I have two large paper bags for my trash and I force myself to throw away magazines and receipts and old non-personal letters. I will occasionally pause and rip a few pages from the magazine that I want to keep before I throw it away. I've got scrap books filled with these articles. A book for all my ticket stubs. I just can't get myself to throw them away and on lazy Sundays, I will open one and flip through the articles and ads and pictures that I've "rescued" from my ritual purges.
Someday, I will be strong enough to throw away the scrap books.
I'm trying to be more self-aware of the habits I possess that foster the chaos in my life. I look around me, especially in my study, and see the chaos. It is dripping from my unorganized shelves and my piles of papers and letters and notes and books. Some times, I pause and sit, amid my chaos and think of how much I hate it... yet how much of it is also a part of my nature. I don't feel comfortable in stark emptiness, even though I find the minimalistic aesthetic visually attractive. It's not a place I want to stay. This is me, cluttered and disorganized.