by Nancy Martin
Yesterday, I started packing up everything in my kitchen because the whole room is going to be demolished and replaced (I hope!) while we're on vacation. Which means that during the same week I'm putting all my dishes into boxes, I'm also filling a suitcase full of the stuff I'm going to need for 10 days in the Mediterranean. And I have a dreadful feeling that I may pop open my luggage and discover a saucepan nestled among the t-shirts. And chances are middling my bathing suit may end up packed with the canned tuna.
Are you an organized person? I am, in theory. I have a pretty good idea of what's in all the heaps of stuff on my desk, what corner of my underwear drawer I can find the white socks, and I know which kitchen drawer all the baking utensils are piled in. But when it comes, for example, to the exact location of last year's tax return . . . well, it might take me an hour or so to put my hands on it. (But who needs an old tax return in a snap?)
I like the idea of good organization, of course, but I find I only really want to organize myself when I'm procrastinating. Do I color code my royalty statements? Uh, no, they're squished into a folder somewhere. My kitchen is the same. It looks tidy, but behind those cabinet doors there's a lot of creative chaos. I know people who have those fancy dividers in all their kitchen drawers to keep the ice cream scoop from canoodling with the barbecue tongs. But me? I say, let 'em mingle.
There's a spectrum to good organziation, don't you think? Martha Stewart, for example, has a Nazi-like exactness about everything. I wonder if she's ever had a spontaneous moment? Me, I can't follow recipes to the letter. A half a teaspoon of salt in those mint cookies? I find myself guesstimating (okay, maybe I can't find the teaspoon, but I can eyeball it in the palm of my hand!) and my cookies turn out pretty good. Different every time, I must add, but really, how bad can a cookie get? Not ver.
Because I've melded the stay-at-home mom thing with a writing career, my office has always been a separate room (the IRS insists) but my work manages to spill into the kitchen anyway--the place my family would rather I spend most of my time. Can I admit to you, my friends, that I keep all my business receipts in a Tupperware container in a kitchen cupboard? It's the same kind of Tupperware I use to store Christmas cookies. And while going through my tax deductions last year, I discovered the lost recipe card for peanut butter blossoms.
I suspect this is a female thing--letting your life accumulate in the kitchen. Am I wrong? Besides the mail and the pile of bookmarks my publisher sent and that envelope full of ARCs for the new book, I also keep on of my TBR piles in the kitchen. The piles of books frequently get so tall that they fall over and mingle with the groceries I haven't quite had a chance to put away yet.
My husband, on the other hand, wouldn't dream of leaving his golf clubs or his briefcase in the kitchen. He spends as little time as possible in the kitchen.
He's fussy about his suitcase, though, let me tell you. His clothes will have knife creases when he pulls them out. His socks are carefully rolled and tucked into the toes of his immaculately polishes shoes. His ties will be packed in tissue paper. Me, I'm lucky if I don't look like a homeless person on our trip next week. I tend to toss everything into the luggage and sit on it to get the zipper closed.
How do you keep your life out of the kitchen? Or isn't that a problem for you? And if so, what's your strategy? Tell me quick, because when I get back from my vacation, I have a chance to organize my brand new kitchen in a whole new way.