The twin follies of clutter and untidiness

I am not a tidy person by nature.  I try to keep the house tidy but fail dismally.  I hound the children and keep on at them to keep their stuff tidy, but my stuff … it’s everywhere.  As the co-leader of two Girl Scout troops I have made an extra special effort to keep the troop materials neat, tidy and in a known place.

I have a big closet I use for art and craft projects and materials.  I keep my Girl Scout materials here too.  My husband recently painted it for me and added decent shelving, so it can hold a vast amount.  As we approached the Court of Awards evening (the annual ceremony for Scouts, where we hand out various earned patches) I had custody of the troops’ patches among other responsibilities.

The week before the ceremony my days went something like this:

I know where the patches are today, I saw them.
I know where the patches are today, I saw them.
I know where the patches are today, I saw them.
I know where the patches are today, I saw them.
I know where the patches are today, I saw them.
I need to double check the patches as I will need them tomorrow.

I was actually being very good and getting all my bits together EARLY in the day so I didn’t have any last minute panics  (I am as punctual as I am tidy), when I realized I couldn’t find the patches.  For the life of me I couldn’t remember where I had put them.  I went through all the closet shelves – no sign of the patches.  I searched another closet (it was logical, as it used to contain the troop boxes and now held the overflow of craft materials) and tidied it as I searched.  I searched every worktop, table and piece of furniture that contains clutter … tidying as I went.  The cats followed me, fascinated with my activities and monosyllabic mutterings.

About an hour into my search and rescue mission the phone rang.  It was my husband.  I wailed down the phone about my calamity.  “Oh” he said, “The patches are on my desk, I saw them.”  And they were.  Admittedly he had placed some of his clutter on them, but they were on his desk.  I guess my short attention span meant I didn’t put them back after checking them.  I was weak-kneed with relief and swore I would never be so careless again.

Fast forward a few weeks to my preparations for Camporee … I have custody of the SWAPS for one troop (SWAPS are little crafts on pins that the girls make to swap with other troops – each girl makes 11).

My week goes like this:

I know where the SWAPS are – I saw them today – I will not lose them.
I know where the SWAPS are – I saw them today – I will not lose them.
I am paranoid I will lose the SWAPS so I will move them to a safe place.
I know where the SWAPS are – I will not lose them … but I can’t see them …
I know where the SWAPS are … but I can’t see them … they must be there!
OMG – the SWAPS have gone!  PANIC!!  PANIC!!

At least I am sensible enough to start my cursed ritual a day earlier this time.  The same closets are searched – a little easier this time as they are still tidy from the last search.  The cats are delighted to help me and play the anticipation game – each cat lies on a pile of clutter; the winner is the cat to be booted off first.  Beastly felines!  My husband returns from work while I am mid-search.  “What have you lost?” he asks as he closes the door.  “The SWAPS” I mutter through gritted teeth.  Bless him; he goes straight into search mode with no words of reproach about my slovenly tidying skills, just compassion for his pitiful wife.

Why am I writing about this?  I’m taking a break from another search for something I put in a safe place.  I really shouldn’t stress myself about this habit as it probably won’t change.  I still remember the time, about 25 years ago, I put my make-up box in the freezer.  What worries me is not the fact that I put it there, but that I LOOKED for it there and FOUND IT!!

The SWAPS?  Oh, they were in an old cigar box on top of the printer, of course!

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