A Dis-Organized Crime

Time to tidy up?

By Lee Ann “Sunny” Brown

The day had started out much the same as any other day except that I had an early morning meeting and then coffee with a friend of mine so I had to get out the door a little earlier than usual. It was only upon walking back into our house that an uneasiness began to creep up on me. A feeling of dread took hold of me as I inserted the key, unlocked the door and turned the knob.

As the door swung open, that’s when it hit me. That’s when the panic set in. I began to feel uneasy about what I might see in the next room, around the next corner.

There before me was a most unsightly mess. Papers were strewn everywhere all over the desk, even scattered across the chair and floor. Stacks of mail, letters, opened and unopened, catalogues, magazines, flyers, junk mail in disarray all over the secretary cabinet. Little bits of papers,  along with stained, used napkins, torn-out scraps of notebook paper all scribbled with some bit of illegible writing—a joke perhaps, or a half formed essay—were lying on the counter.

In the bathroom, drawers were left partially opened, the contents spilling out onto the countertops; makeup, hairbrushes, tissues stained with lipstick, a can of hairspray, some curlers and clips were carelessly left rolling around on the floor. You could tell that someone had left in a hurry.

The same mess was found in the closet, with clothes hanging forlornly off their hangers. Other clothes lay rumpled on the floor, some looking as if they had been worn the day before, or maybe the day before that. And shoes, mismatched, were all over the floor.

It continued this way throughout the whole house. There were dirty dishes in the kitchen sink leftover from breakfast. There was dirty laundry piled in the laundry room waiting to be washed. Dog toys and newspapers were strewn across the living room, and on and on it went. In every room, things were out of place—in fact, it felt as if they never had a place. It all seemed to spark a feeling of joylessness. At least joy was not the first sensation to greet me when I walked through the door.

Everything looked so rumpled and out of place and in disarray that it resembled the scene of a crime.

And who’s to say that a crime wasn’t, in fact, committed on the premises? It looked like something bad had happened, as if a yellow crime-scene tape should have been wrapped around the entire perimeter of the area.

Looking around at the disorganized scene gave me the feeling that I wanted to scream. I wanted to do something. I wanted to fold something. And, yet, everything was just exactly as I had left it when I frantically left my house earlier that morning. Not one thing had been changed…except for me. You see, over coffee my friend had introduced me to Marie Kondo.

Now, as I surveyed the scene before me, I did not feel joy. Instead, anxiety began to set in. I felt like a witness to a natural disaster or horrible act of mass destruction. I didn’t know where, or how, to begin to tidy up. So I made a cup of tea and sat down to take it all in and think this through. And that’s when I realized that it really wasn’t as bad as it looked. In fact, I could put my finger on anything I was looking for—a receipt, a joke or essay that I was in the process of working on. The B-Metro article I was looking forward to reading, the word puzzle I was working on playing against my mom. Everything I was involved with was right there, at my fingertips. Well, maybe I had to dig through a pile down to my wrists, but I knew where to look. And, as I started to look through the miscellaneous papers I actually found myself sorting them into categories: receipts, writing, cards and letters, mail, etc. One by one I went from desk, to table, to chair, and it all began sorting itself.

I continued into the bathroom and my closet where I had left things in disarray trying to get out the door on time and not be late for my meeting that morning. And while I would not say that everything I kept brought me joy, I did feel an attachment to it in some way, even if it was that I had to keep it for such a mundane reason as tax purposes.

In almost no time at all I had everything tidied up—all my papers nicely sorted and filed away, the clothes in my closet off the floor and straightened back nicely on their hangers, all my makeup and toiletries back in their drawers, and the breakfast dishes loaded into the dishwasher. I felt peace.

Until I realized that someone still needed to do the laundry. That did not bring me joy. 

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