Friday, August 10, 2007

Getting Organized

Some of my nearest and dearest will be laughing themselves silly with the title of this post. I tend to be cluttered. I have good intentions, but I've always been able to ignore mess if I have a good book to read or the NYT crossword to solve. I straighten up the coffee table in the family room, but within a short time it's crowded with my stuff. I'm often asked if I outline my novels and I laugh and respond that only if post-it notes stuck on my laptop and various legal pads counts as outlining (and, as an English teacher for 15 years I know it doesn't).

I do try. I have a file for all my 2007 tax receipts. I just can't always find the file. (Oh, and yes, I know I should put it in my file cabinet. I'm not stupid.)

And, I'm not a slob. I just keep things. And I have yet to find the perfect organizing system.

In some areas, though, I have systems in place. In my classroom, each class was color-coded. Red handout? Fourth hour. Grading sheets? Green. But I frequently lost my keys under the mounds of papers and files on my desk. My recipes are neatly divided in my recipe box. But, sometimes I use a recipe for a bookmark in a cookbook.

All that said, I love having a structure, a rhythm to my day. I get the coffee ready the night before and I make sure that there are four cans of Diet Mountain Dew (ick. yuck. gross.) in the fridge for my husband who, while not a coffee drinker is a caffeine needer. I not only make a list before I go to the grocery store, I plan out the dinner menus for the week. I do crosswords in ink.

So, that's why I love this time of year--we're about to get back to school. Structure. Set schedules. Every June, along with the kids, I celebrate the arrival of summer vacation--no nagging about homework, no late night runs to Target for posterboard. No pleading with the school custodian to please, please, please let us in to the part of the building where a certain locker is with a certain chemistry book inside of it.

But . . . by the end of July (and maybe a tad earlier) my husband and I start whispering to each other, "When does school start?" Because the kids, as kids do, view every night as Friday night. Their alarms aren't going off at 7 a.m. But ours are. And we still ask our kids to wake us up when they get home. And that ranges from midnight to 3 a.m. And teenagers are nocturnal nightfeeders. And we're tired. I'm ready for the house to be empty for 6 or 7 hours every day.

So, right now, I'm rejoicing as much as the kids are grousing. The schedules have arrived. The summer reading is 50% done. The college books are ordered. I'm taking one back to school tomorrow. (And the next day, my husband and I take off for our last gasp of summer--6 days in Napa Valley. By ourselves.) And on August 22, I will have a quiet house by 8 a.m. and will be able to gather all the post-its and other scribbles and get down to the business of finishing my novel so I can then revise. I'll post about that process in time, but right now laundry calls. Hope the buzzer on the dryer doesn't wake any of the sleeping kids.


Lisa said...

Back to school time and that first cold night that lets you know that summer is almost over always seem like a signal for transition. That getting ready for the next season feeling has hit me too.

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Lisa, That's it exactly. It's not so much getting rid of the kids (which seems sorta harsh), but getting ready for the next season. I'm sick of grilling. Tired of thinking of cool dinners. I can't wait until the weather suggests stew and meatloaf.

kristen said...

I'm with you, ladies! Bring on the roasting pan and the dutch oven, I'm done with summer fun.

Therese said...

Judy, I'm so much like this! And, more and more, my summer household is becoming like yours. Last night I was up until almost 2 a.m. waiting for my oldest to get home from an event. I haven't yet learned how to go to bed while he's out.

Hurray for the upcoming school year! I may yet get my novel done in time. :)

Melanie Lynne Hauser said...

I so understand your post - yet I'm very torn, because I do love the time I get to spend with my kids in the summer. And this summer has been particularly special, since my oldest leaves for college in two weeks.

But I also am getting a little bit tired of the late nights, late mornings, no structure, messiness, etc. I've not been productive at all this summer, writing-wise. And I'm tired of grilling, too! I only like to cook winter-type foods - the meatloaf and the fried chicken and the pot roast and roasted vegetables.

Have fun on vacation! Enjoy it - I've always wanted to go to Napa!

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Maybe we'll start sharing recipes on the blog this fall? It's so good to know I'm not alone.

And I promise a full Napa travelogue upon my return.

Larramie said...

Your Napa Valley trip is a great way to wind down before winding up again. I love fall, always have, because it's the season that feels most like a new year for taking on those hopes, dreams and promises which summer has idly planted inside of us.