Tuesday, February 14, 2012

When True Simplicity is Gain'd

Right now, Daughter is in her room, attending an online history class. Consort is at the kitchen table, at a meeting on Skype. I’m hiding in the office thinking up a blog which looks very much like gazing at pictures of breaded-cats on the Internet. And here, next to me, is a rainbow Slinky. The rainbow Slinky is the embodiment of why no one is ever invited to my house.






After thirteen years in this house, we still don’t have dining-room chairs. We don’t have dining-room chairs because we got the table at an estate sale and needed to buy chairs, but in the times we can afford chairs we can’t agree on them and when we find the right chairs the cars develop neurasthenia and need some time in a sanatorium. We do, however, have a rainbow Slinky which was gifted to the child at some point in the past. She walks around the house, idly Slinking, leaving it wherever it stops being relevant. I point it out to her, she picks it up; sometimes it even goes back to her room for a while. But then a day or two pass and I step into the shower and lo, rainbow Slinky is wrapped around the conditioner. Anything which actually requires thought before purchasing doesn’t get purchased, but the house is filled with random objects which washed up on our shore and have now applied for citizenship.



Here’s another member of the family. Daughter had a science experiment, one involving a straw, a bottle-cap, a CD, and a balloon. I don’t remember what it proved scientifically, but it went up in the air and beetled around and has since proven that something which goes up in the air and beetles around is entertaining about every 94 days and cannot be thrown out. Once it comes out of the closet for beetling-time, it tends to stay out for at least three days, usually on the coffee table. You know what’s never on the coffee table? Coffee. You see that little green rectangle behind the experiment? That’s dental floss, left over from another experiment. Whenever a human in this house thinks a room doesn’t look quite festive enough, we race to the bathroom and get something minty to liven up the place.



Here’s a bookshelf. You can tell it’s a bookshelf because there are four remotes and some Wii-related objects in there. Also, Capturing the Friedmans, a documentary about molestation. We’re going to hope Daughter will never think she’s grabbing the Mario and Sonic Wii game and plays that instead.



Oh, the traditional drawer; Pictures Left Over from Daughter’s Nursery, Needlepoint Frames I’ve Been Given and Perfectly Usable Bits of Wrapping Paper. What, you say you don’t have such a drawer? But then where do you put your roll of pink and green ribbon, your seven marbles and the Christmas ornament you found behind the couch in mid-February?



See that pile? That pile, I’ve been told, means something. I may not throw the pile away, because Consort is just about to take care of it because it’s very important. The pile has remained unsorted for about a year, so a more cynical person might think something like “How important can that stuff be if you can ignore it for a year?” Luckily, I’m not cynical.


People talk about the desk-drawer which collects the random objects; I’m starting to suspect the house is trying to become one giant drawer. There’s nothing which says “Please cross the threshold and be embraced by our warmth” but I comfort (or delude) myself that there’s plenty which says “These people might be bouncing through their lives like a Superball right now, but you can’t say they aren’t interesting.”

Which is true. You also can’t say we don’t own sixteen Superballs, because the cats keep finding them, even after I swear I’ve thrown them all away. But we’re starting businesses, and writing books, getting educated and learning great quantities of things, and maybe the house is just an outer manifestation of the hectic and happy state of our minds right now. If dining-room chairs and dental floss only in the bathroom meant Consort and the kid might not be doing a crossword puzzle together right now, it wouldn’t be worth it.

In sum, no one’s coming over soon but we’ll meet you someplace clean, sane and quiet, and we’ll bring stories from our loud, chaotic lives and together will dream of a day when we manage to be both organized and creative.

The rainbow Slinky will make an excellent file-holder.


13 Comments:

Anonymous scarlet said...

oh hallelujah we're not the only ones!

8:52 PM  
Blogger Shanna said...

Your house and mine could be twins! I have that same drawer only I don't find the rogue Christmas ornament until April when I do the annual move the furniture around project. ;) Love your blog, especially the ones about cats. ;)

6:15 AM  
Anonymous ɹǝƃƃolquǝʞoʇ said...

Dining room chairs are over rated!

Just use the kitchen chairs, the desk chairs, or that odd chair you drop your coats on when you come in the door, when having a dinner party!

Or call it a BYOC!!!

An empty dining room table is a great place to do projects!

6:49 AM  
Anonymous the golddigger said...

The beauty of living alone and one of the things I miss the most about living alone is that you get to control what stays in the house and what leaves. My husband is a collector and I am not. I would be so happy to get rid of his Leaning Tower of Visa or at least put those receipts in a file. I have told him that if he drops dead, I am throwing away all his crap in the basement without even looking at it because I KNOW WE DO NOT NEED HIS PHONE BILLS FROM 1997.

11:09 AM  
Blogger May said...

When we bought our table, I refused to buy the chairs that went with it because they were upholstered. Upholstered dining room chairs + children = not pretty.
Years later, we still haven't gotten chairs to go with it. We've been using the chairs from our old dining room set, which are being held together with gorilla glue and prayer.

8:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm impressed by how long your slinky has lasted!

Whenever one comes our way, I heartlessly lob it into the "dead man walking" category because it's just a matter of time before it looks like an amoeba with an 80's haircut.

6:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. If you had dining room chairs, it would just be another place for stuff. (My Christmas presents are sitting on one of mine.)
2. If I weren't so ashamed, I post a photo of my desk.
3. FlyLady calls it CHAOS: Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome.
4. My friend says the key is to keep the place neat and dark.
5. Finding a Christmas decoration long after you've put stuff away, is good luck. Someone told me that and I have decided to believe it.
6. I have the same slinky and there is no one in this house under the age of thirty.
7. If given the choice, creative is always better than organized.
8. I make glass beads and make jewellery. You can't imagine where I find beads in this house. Long after I'm dead, people will find loose beads in this house.

Cheers,
Beth

9:56 PM  
Anonymous Riin said...

I keep my marbles in a glass jar on my kitchen window sill. That way I know where they are so no one can say I've lost my marbles. Also they look pretty with the sun shining on them.

I tend not to have people over because my studio has overflowed (I'm a fiber artist), so there are bins of fiber and yarn stacked up in the dining room and living room. I've determined that the only difference between a fiber artist and a hoarder is that I actually sell my stuff, so I'm always trying to get rid of some of it (the rest of it is equipment and supplies, and is therefore sacred).

12:19 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Slinkys (Slinkies?) make great pencil holders. I have two Slinky/pencil holders on my desk at this very moment. They're one of the few things you can see in amid the very important piles.

1:01 PM  
Blogger StevenIre said...

I heard on radio the question posed as to why there has to be computers with the possibility of adult content being in a public library—why not just books (adult or otherwise.) It occurs to me that my book shelves at home anticipate the library—not in adult content, but in a mixture of media. I am glad that my refrigerator, the one place were thing are not out of place, foreshadows nothing but food being in restaurants. Let us all not prefigure Capturing the Friedmans lunchbox merchandizing by valentines chocolates being kept next to the Lunchables.

3:41 PM  
Anonymous NancySongbird said...

Your house and mine are "drawers" in the same dresser of life. I could regale you all with tales of the weird things that occupy various zones of my house, but let's just do the kitchen island in brief: bag of half-dead batteries (not strong enough to run camera anymore but can surely run SOMETHING), old VHS movie for library, 2 small suction cup pop-up toys that occasionally amuse the cats, empty water bottle, bread (HEY, there's one that belongs there...), used ink catridge awaiting recycling, candy disenser made by dd at age 7 (awaiting determination of "keep" or "give"), a roll of duct tape (because no room of our house could be complete without it)... I could go on, but I should probably go clean it off instead. Sigh... Thanks for the smile - and the empathy...

12:04 PM  
Anonymous Lydia said...

My mother was an artist, a potter, a clothes designer, a knitter, a weaver, a reader, and our house was always full of creative activity. Her mother commented that she loved to visit us, but there was no place to sit! Such was the chaos and overabundance of materials. But it was fun and stimulating and mind-stretching.

I sought order in my own house to the point that my mother said, "Lydia, you don't live in a museum." But then I married and had children and my drawers are where I throw things for the outward semblance of
control. To no avail, of course, but it's OK because I've
loosened up for the better. My priorities have changed.
And that's a good thing.

7:27 PM  
Blogger Nelle said...

I love a tidy home! Which is why I visit other people a lot.

My very own "Quick! Someone's Just Pulled Into The Driveway" solution? Clear plastic garbage bags. I race around the public areas of the house, dragging the garbage bag behind me, dumping every stray thing into its 30 gallon maw then twist-tie it closed and cram it into the bedroom closet with its eighteen cousins. Weeks later, when I can't find the dvd remote, I have merely to scan the contents of the clear plastic garbage bag on top of the pile of nineteen clear plastic garbage bags, reach in, and pluck it out without even disturbing the other three hundred and eighty two items in the bag!

Perhaps one day I'll be organized enough to have a magic marker lying about so I can write the date on the bag before throwing the marker in. Then I can start cleaning out the closet by simply hauling whichever bag is a year old out to the curb.

Hey! You got a better idea?

9:56 PM  

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