Thursday, March 04, 2004

F.ollow C.ourse U.ntil S.uccessful

Or so say Dorothy Lehmkuhl and Dolores Cotter Lamping, the gentlehearted authors of Organizing for the Creative Person, one of the many, many books I have purchased in my lifetime geared towards whipping my little monkey brain into some kind of cohesive order.

I dated--hell, lived with--a guy many years ago who liked to make fun of how many self-help books I had. To hear him tell it, you would think a person couldn't navigate our apartment without veering into a stack of the damn things. While I admit that there might be a tiny seed of truth to that, his comic books far outnumbered my books on finding a job, a life, a soul. And this isn't related at all, but last I heard, he was still making big money drawing pictures of women with large breasts and larger guns for video game companies.


My challenge right now is two-fold. Well, I'm trying to focus on two folds. One is getting my space in order, the other is clearing my head, which has been definitely murky the past week. Definite vigorously-stirred vinaigrette quality to my head lately. While I know that the latter has many causes--I'm stressed out, I have a head cold, I just got back to SF and suddenly there's a lot I need to do to uphold my various commitments to work, troupe, dojo, relationships, and so on. And did I mention the weird rash on my shoulder and torso? At least I think it's kind of funny the way I'm falling apart--I can't help but think that if my studio were just clean and orderly, somehow everything else would fall into place.

The first rule of clutter clearing should probably be, get rid of all your books about clutter clearing. That right there would open up more bookshelf space than I care to admit. But I'm not getting rid of the Lehmkuhl/Lamping book just yet because it's different and special.

It's written for right-brainers.

We're different! We think differently! We're divergent instead of convergent! We have special organizing needs! Seriously, you'd think, after reading a couple of chapters, that "Arbies" deserve our own support group. I'm an Arbie, someone would come sobbing to the front to say, and I admit that I am powerless over my urge to read every scrap, instead of ruthlessly recycling like my neighbor in the next cube over, the one with the riding crop and the gleaming keyboard. Heck, we could use our own country. In one chapter, they describe how an Arbie who didn't need to worry about public ridicule might design a bedroom with no closets--just a row of doorknobs and chairs to drape their clothes over, and tuck their shoes underneath. Closets and bureaus are so, you know, left-brain.

I'm loving this. I look around and see a sock monkey that needs its feet sewn up and its second ear attached. A painting I started in October and haven't touched since. On my desk alone there's a Burning Man volunteer application without so much as my name written on it, a list of people I'm supposed to hit up for donations to the troupe's fundraising party, boarding pass stubs, a clothespin, a pencil sharpener shaped like a polar bear, a stack of empty CD jewel cases, two lino cutting knives, two cell phone chargers, pens pointing in every direction, a Post-It with a list of the things I'm supposed to be looking for so I can do my taxes, if I can find all the boxes with papers hastily shoved into them during frantic cleanings over the course of 2003. I daren't turn my chair and look at the floor behind me, where the unpacking proceeds at a pace not unlike the steady gait of the mountains into the sea. It could be chaos, or it could be, as the nice ladies who wrote the book say, a sign of what a lovely compassionate creative individual I am.

I've gotten a lot farther with this book, too, than I usually do. Maybe because I've made sure it's the only thing in my bag to read on the train. I am learning so much about all the ways Arbies sabotage ourselves! It's fascinating. Now if I could just start putting all their helpful hints into practice. Like asking myself the question: Is this Urgent, Important, Both, or Neither? Or Learning to Divide My Work Into My Time. And of course, Avoiding Busywork.

I'm thinking about all this as I jump up to put in a CD. And then I notice that the CD player and everything around it are dusty. So I head out to the closet to look for the duster, but the closet is locked. Coming back for the key, I decide to check my email again. And look, there's something that needs a response. Duster in hand, finally, I stop in the kitchen to see if there's any lox left, and I start to think that maybe the fridge could stand to be cleaned out. Back in my studio I walk over to dust the CD player and realized that my tempera paint is settling out; maybe it needs to be donated to a worthy cause, I'll just check Craig's List real quick like.

And I wonder why I'm so tired at the end of the day, and feel like I've accomplished so little. And I still haven't listened to the CD. Maybe I need a nap?

Or to run screaming from my studio and take refuge in a coffeeshop where I can safely make lists--at a distance?