Tuesday, April 11, 2006

On Being a Piler

I'm a piler. I have piles everywhere. At home, there are piles on my dining room table, piles on sofa, piles on the counter, piles on the floor, even piles on top of upended boxes. (Any flat surface will do for me. Don't sit still too long if you come to visit.) In my office, there are piles on my desks (yes, I have more than one), piles on chairs, piles on my closet shelves, and one bookcase is serving as a pile-holder. Come to think of it, I have piles on top of boxes in my office, too. I do put some things into filing cabinets, but if you think about it, those are really just horizontal piles with tabs on them. (And "pile" is just "file" with an "p".) I have a small desk organizer with little short shelves on which to sort things; it's really just a set of level surfaces on which to put new piles.

It's probably partly being a hoarder. I like to keep things. You never know when something will come in handy. (It did when I had to make a case for being considered in-state for my last semester of graduate school. I put together 34 pages of supporting documents, including phone and utility records, receipts from charities, letters from state organizations I belonged to, voter registration, a letter from completing jury duty, and other random junk from the seven years I'd been living here.) Hopefully I'm not following in the footsteps of my grandmother, whose house was found stuffed top to bottom with all kinds of random effluvia of a lifetime. (She had a box in which she had saved the worn-out sole inserts from shoes, and another in which she had put the hair scraps when she used to cut my grandfather's hair. One dresser was found stuffed with newspapers. Not any particular clippings or anything, just old newspapers she had opted not to throw away.)

Occasionally, I clean up. This involves sorting random piles into specific piles: things to throw out, different kinds of records that I already have files for, things that need to go to my office or home, things that I need to do right away, things that I forgot about but should have done a month ago, etc. Usually when I clean I also have an "I don't know what to do with this pile", and I made a realization years ago that if I use this pile, I'm not really making any progress.

Of course, sometimes it would be easier if I were actually more organized. I know somewhere here I have a list of students who didn't complete an on-line assignment but turned in the written portion, but I may not find it again until I do a major excavation. (Perhaps when I do I'll find my little poster that says "Neat people never make the exciting kinds of discoveries I do".) But I think piling is what I do. Maybe it's a fundamental personality trait, like whether you're an introvert or extrovert, or being a psycho serial killer. (I never said fundamental personality traits were all good.) Maybe if I were neat and organized I just wouldn't be me. So I make my peace with myself and move on.

Now where are my notes for tomorrow's class...?

No comments: