02 April 2011

I Didn't Plan For That

The Lone Woman and One are in Florida! Today, I ran around the house trying to get us ready to go. I'd bought each of us a few new t-shirts, and I felt compelled to wash them. So I had to wait to do the actual packing.

I cleaned the kitchen. Mostly.
I filled out the "This Week on the Farm" whiteboards, which detail all the children's activities for the week.
I packed toiletries and medications.
I made sure we had our identification and boarding passes.
Then I checked my lame-ass list.

I'm not a list-maker. I'm also not a long-range planner. This is not a good combination. The family knows about this particular character flaw, and they reference it often enough to signal their subtle disapproval. My sister Erin, the professional organizer (a true Virgo), has confronted my willy-nilly lifestyle as if it's an affliction. She pities me, and then determinedly sets out to find a cure. The last time she stayed with me, we settled on a planner that I could take with me in my big purse, and organized a binder to file all child-related papers. I agreed, to make her happy. Seriously, I don't think she could have slept soundly back in Arizona if she hadn't implemented a system.

My planner still sits on my kitchen table, and the binder hasn't been updated since October. I'm a recidivist non-planner. Now I have my fancy new smart-phone, and I'm trying to use that for all calendar updates. I haven't quite got the hang of creating shopping lists yet, but I'm planning on learning. We all know how that'll turn out.

Despite my laissez-faire attitude, One and I managed to get out the door, almost on time. The Captain came home to drive us to the airport, and Four and Five came along for the ride. Twenty minutes into the journey, Five said his stomach hurt. He was starving. I hadn't packed any snackage. I know, somewhere in Arizona, Erin's preparation-sense was tingling. How could I not have crackers and water in the van? It was a rookie mistake.

When we got to Newark Liberty International Airport, I made Four and Five move to the middle seats, to eliminate any motion-related sickness. I emptied some shoes and clothes awaiting return to Walmart out of their bags, and told Five to use them for puking, if necessary. Then I dug under my cup holder tray, and pulled out a box of wipes for clean-up, if vomiting did actually occur.

It was almost like I planned for it.

So: are you a list-maker, or risk-taker? Organized, or in shambles? Walking the aisles of the Container Store, or the fine line of slackerdom? Erin is available for consultation.

I'm off to bed, with no alarm to wake me. I'll be exclusively writing the book for the next six days, but I'll be checking in with your blogs. I can't just quit cold turkey, man. Have a great week!


  1. Shambles. Total pile-and-stacker. The desk at work? Only gets cleaned off and straightened when a sub is coming.

    When I went into the hospital a few weeks ago I missed 3 days of work and when i came back the sub had organized my file drawer, my huge bookshelves and my quote-unquote organizer that had stacks of paper shoved in it. Yes, my sub, who is also my principal's wife, stayed late to organize my room b/c it drove her nuts. It was soooo pretty for a while.

    I lost the second set of keys to my truck five years ago.

    I have no dedication to organization. It's a personal shame of mine. I truly wish I revered a detailed system of keeping myself accountable and not losing shit constantly.

    I do have a very pretty $14 planner I bought at Barnes and Noble in December. I think I even wrote in it once or twice in January.

  2. Ok Meg, I'm a Virgo but I'm no where near as organized as Erin is. I do appreciate it when everything has a home, though. And I get frustrated when people don't get that (because it's really obvious. How can you not get it??) But, you have to remember that Erin has a lot more time on her hands than you do, and if she didn't organize people I think she'd go nuts. She has a gift - its like her mind is like Tetris and life falls into place even before it stops moving! We just can't compete with that (and people call me organized!)

    Seriously, the one thing that keeps me sane is iCal. My calendar is color coded for each person, and some tasks like bill paying. Work has its own color too. I update it religiously and sync it "up to the cloud" so I can access it at work. And it syncs to all family members' ipods too. Though they don't bother to check it. They just ask me. Just can't force change....

    And sometimes I make lists. And sometimes people pay attention to them.

  3. PS. I LOVE ERIN! And not just for what she does for us.

    And just for the record, everyone is jealous of you when she visits, because we know the magic that's happening at your house. :) <3 <3 <3

  4. Erin does seem to be magical in her powers of organization and general ability to make life more lovely. She is like Mary Poppins, only nicer. The real Mary P. Was kind of vain and difficult.

    I am a hybrid of compulsive and messy. Actually the compulsive helps to fuel the messy. But my files are very nice when I get around to filing.

  5. Yeah, I'm completely disorganized. EXCEPT when it comes to my workspace. I like all my stuff to be where I can find it while I'm working. Other than that, I'm a pilot (I pile it here, I pile it there).

  6. When I am not swamped by depression and anxiety, I am fairly neat (altho' not up to my mother's or grandmother's standards --- they went beyond even a Virgo's standards). When my place is not at least minimally tidy, I go a little crazy. I think that means right now I am certifiable.

    When it comes to work, when I have an actual workspace, I keep it fairly organized. I even used to have a planner that I kept entirely up to date.

    Virgo? Nope. Really weird Aquarius.

  7. Anonymous2.4.11

    June, the original (non-Disney version) Mary Poppins also drank. A. Lot.

    Messy Virgo here. And a Pilot, like Dee. I do have many calendar "systems" though, which only I can understand. Good list maker, but then I lose them.
    It's complicated...

    Enjoy your time. Savor every second! But ya know, also relax.


  8. @chrysanthe: we ALL love Erin. But I think the Captain appreciates it even more when she visits. He tends toward OCD, in a good, organized way, but I only tend toward OCD in a bad, addict-y way. He puts up with me because he loves me, but when Erin is here...I have to have more sex with him so he doesn't think too much about what I'm lacking.

    @June: I think we will make this Erin's new nickname. We will call her Ms. P!

    @Skye: I am sending you hugs from Florida! I think they get there easier from across the gulf. It's a much more circuitous journey from New Jersey.

    @Delia: I tried having a dedicated workspace. But I kept wandering back to the kitchen table. I think it must symbolically represent what's important to me (family), plus I can look outside at the birds and wildlife. Somehow, the incredible mess doesn't distract me. The cookies do, though.

    @Julie: I'm relaxing! And reading books! Tomorrow, I'll write. It's a dream.

  9. Damn those cookies. I just ate one, myself. Always a weakness.

  10. Anonymous3.4.11

    If I ever lose my weekly planner, I am totally screwed - I do write down all appointments and classes and meetings because I can't remember a darn thing. I make lots and lots of lists - love making lists, but then I lose them and make more lists. :) My nature is to be very scattered and the piles of stuff around me can vouch for it. Strangely enough, my computer files are very organized.

  11. Anonymous3.4.11

    Yet another completely disorganised person here. Like Bona Fide, I like making lists but I never seem to actually use them, I think most of them are hanging out together in the bottom of my handbag.
    Hope you're having a great time in Florida and soaking up plenty of sunshine (while wearing sunscreen of course)

  12. @Chrysanthe - I am the same way about stuff needing a home. I prefer things to have a place and I like to keep them there. I don't really tolerate clutter very well. Megan knows that toy rooms and nurseries are my weakness. So much of the stuff screams to be put into tiny boxes, or assembled or stacked in an appropriate order. I can't help myself from putting things to rights. It's a compulsion.

    I'm not really a list maker, nor a long-term planner. But I do keep a calendar - it's only half filled, since I keep most of my recurring appointments in my head - and I am usually willing to plan for medium-term events. My achilles heel is moving boxes. Once I've used up all of the obvious available space in the first couple of days, I lose energy. I hate the idea of taking something out of a box and having no clear place for it. So I have - from time to time - lived with unpacked boxes for embarrassingly long periods of time. At the moment, I am box and clutter free. Which is why I am never moving again. Unless Erin will consent to help me get organized when I do.

    Megan, have a wonderful time! I'm wishing for plenty of reading, writing and relaxation for you and lots of exotic fauna for One. Give my love to everyone there!

  13. Megan, we're just going to keep discussing this post until you come back and give us some thing else to talk about.

    Also, do we get to hear how the Captain failed Five during your week of abandonment?

  14. @Chrysanthe: One of the reasons I felt I couldn't post this week was my inability to fail Five from such a great distance. Mind you, I am failing him every day simply by being absent, but it's difficult, even for him, to blame me for direct failures.

    The Captain informs me that he has yet to fail Five, or at least, be notified of it. In fact, the other day Four told him it was fun to have him around.

    I am busy thinking of topics for next week. Okay, not really. But I am writing, and I had been reading, until I realized I left my other book on the airplane. Arrgghh.

  15. So given how well things are going at home, there should be no guilt about your romance writers conference. Yay!
    Bummer about leaving the book on the plane.

  16. Anonymous8.4.11

    I just saw (on someone else's blog, because mine does not have this feature) that it's been five days since you wrote this post. Five days? It feels like five years, and yet to you it probably feels as if you just left five minutes ago (except for the missing of boys and Captain of course). How did we live before you started The Diaries?


Thanks for reading! Unlike other Diaries, this one isn't private. Feel free to share your thoughts. Politely, of course.