Everybody, or so I like to think, has a clear sense of what is important and what is a worthy and valuable use of their time. This sense is totally subjective. What you think is worthwhile might seem to me incredibly wasteful of those 1440 minutes of your day. If you knew some of the ways I “waste” minutes in mine over a week, you might laugh at the preposterousness of it, but you see, waste is also a term which could be subjective. When I think about time, I sometimes think about those Dunkin Donuts commercials from the 80’s “time to make the donuts” and it is a bit how I feel, like Fred The Baker, he’s got to get it done…when I feel or think a task is an important use of my time.
I know a number of people who follow sports teams and over the months of a season spend hours on a sofa watching games, or those who can afford tickets, travel for hours over a season to go to stadiums, to sit for hours to watch the event, and then time to travel back home. I know a number of people who follow certain shows on television and over a year spend weeks watching episodes. I know a number of people who, like me, read for hours a week, and if they did not have other obligations, like me, would read for hours more! I know a few people who do crafts and art, and I know a few people who play video games, and a number of them who go to the gym or run or bike. Every single person is spending their time that is “free” doing what they want to do.
There are a few things I do that some think are mildly insane, and I have over the years, had people tell me that they think I might very well fall on the autism or Asperger’s spectrum, with my “need” for order and my mild compulsion to have certain things be certain ways, but I argue that this is neither a mental problem nor an affliction, it is simply that I like things the way I like them. It’s true that I become incensed when the remote control is left out on the coffee table and not in the wicker basket under the coffee table. It’s true that when my sofa cushions are not even I can’t think straight…it’s honestly one of the many reasons I so adore the sofa I bought from Crate and Barrel when I was building this house, because the modern straight back couch design means that there is not ever a chance that the back cushions would not be perfect, because there are no back cushions! It’s the little things…
I like that my linen cupboard and my towel closet are in perfect order. I like that my bath sheets are folded and stacked together the exact same way, that my bath towels are folded and stacked together the exact same way, that my hand towels are folded and stacked together, by size, the exact same way, and same frankly with my wash cloths, larger ones obviously being on the bottom and smaller ones obviously being on the top and all items recirculated, top to bottom, as used and washed. Years ago, before my dad retired and was still working as a carpenter, he had repaired a leak for a customer and had me repair the sheetrock damage and paint the bedroom. While I was at the house doing this job, I noticed that the bathroom had an antique etagere rather than a linen cupboard and while I was peeing one afternoon, thought to myself, “I can’t believe their cleaning woman finds these towels acceptable”…they were lavender, gray, and a pale aqua, and in a complete jumble, folded in a mish-mash, and neither sorted by size nor color. It offended me! Have I mentioned this was not my house, and not one of my regular customers? Upon completion of the paint job, I did in fact totally empty the etagere, dust all the shelves, sort all the towels, and refold them in a style to my liking and in a display that was both orderly and pleasing to the eye, never to actually see them again. Afterwards I thought it was funny, that I could feel so ‘wronged’ by a badly displayed etagere, but that is simply how it was for me…I could not leave the house knowing it was like THAT. Much like I can’t leave the house with dishes in the sink or my bed unmade. I mean, sure, I COULD leave the house but I would find it (whatever the “it” was that offended my brain) on my mind all day. I will refold a fitted sheet, two or three times if necessary, until it is exactly the way I want it folded, so that when the flat sheet is atop it, and the pillow cases on that, all four edges are the same and so they stack, as a complete and matched set, in my linen cupboard just so. There is nothing deranged about this, is is simply how this is.
I like that my new canned goods, when I return from food shopping, are put into the laundry room pantry cupboard and what is in the laundry room pantry cupboard gets brought into the kitchen pantry…because you see, rotating stock is no different at home than in a store, in my ever so humble opinion. My dvds are in a lidded bench in my living room and are alphabetized. My cds in my Sony jukebox player are organized by band and style and I have a five-page index list in a purple folder in the stereo cabinet so I can go to the exact number cd if I so choose. My tax returns are in a tote in my attic by year, of course, 1981 being at the bottom, naturally, and 2015 is on the top now, obviously. These are things that make me happy. I sometimes wonder if these are things about me that I should try to change…like my weight, my fitness level, the number of ounces of alcohol I consume in a week, but then I think, “why?!” These are not things, at least in my view, that make me qualified for a fitted white jacket and soft quilted walls and strong doses of antipsychotics.
In a perfect world, I would have a much larger house with much more closet space and more shelving but my house is small and to me, small houses need to be kept tidy and orderly so as never to feel cluttered or messy. I sometimes work tirelessly all day and then come home and work tirelessly til I am simply too tired to do another thing, so that when I finally sit down, I am sitting down in a space that is perfectly pleasing to me and I can relax fully. The funny thing, to me at least, is that some days the only time I am sitting is in my truck, on my way to the next house or place of work, and the truck is a mess. The truck is a total pollen covered dashboard, papers on the floor, center cup holders filled with things that are not cups, pit of despair, and yet I am in that space for many minutes over every day. It’s bizarre to me, how it is awful, and I SEE that it IS IN FACT AWFUL, but I don’t really care all that much. My boyfriend finds it hilarious, and sometimes scary I think, that I will positively obsess over a throw pillow, or a lap blanket, or how a vase is turned and how I have arranged the flowers, and yet my truck, where I spend quite a bit of time over the hours of a week and a month and a year, gets cleaned out and cleaned perhaps once a quarter! Like income taxes, every quarter, I really don’t WANT to pay them, but I have to…that’s how the inside of my truck is! So I guess like everything else, when it’s time to make the donuts, it’s simply doing what makes each of us happy…I’ve “wasted” minutes this bright Saturday morning, writing this blog, and I wasted minutes last night reading my book, and now I am going to waste some hours in the yard, pulling weeds and mulching…and yes, later today when my boyfriend truly tries to be a partner, he will do a load of whites, as that is all that is left in the hamper, and he will leave them out of the dryer in a heap on my bed tonight for me to fold, because he knows, no matter how meticulously he folds them, I will in fact re-fold EVERY SINGLE THING, probably while he watches golf highlights from the day, and we will both be doing what makes us happy and neither of us will feel like it is wasted time 😉