Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I Don't Care if Chaos is Creative - It Bugs Me

Artists are frequently depicted as being disorganized, impulsive sorts--allergic to order and routine, drawn to chaos. Creativity is a messy process, say the critics, destructive and anarchic.

Well, that's okay. I've always considered myself more of a craftsman than an artist.

I hate chaos. I hate disorder, mess, anarchy. (I also hate Blogger's new format. This is a pain in the ass. But that's the subject of another post.) I don't mind unpredictability--in fact, I love surprises. But only if they don't result in chaos or mess or the destruction of my orderly existence.

I'm slightly obsessive compulsive. I have to have a clean house, a neat car, an organized desk. My daughter's backpack goes on the table by the back door. My husband's work boots go under the desk in the family room; bills go in the folder in the kitchen, clothes get put away as soon as they come out of the dryer, etc. etc. etc. It's sometimes annoying to my family, but at least they always know where their shit is, and besides, my sister -- The House Nazi -- is much, much worse. (I wish my physical organization skills were mirrored in my time and task organizational skills, but they're not. Hence I miss scheduled blog posts, forget to attend chats, and now that Skylar can't make it to RT, God only knows if I'll ever show at anything on time, or even on the right day.)

This is why I'm not looking forward to the month of March. Sometime the week of March 12, a foundation repair company will drill holes in every room of my house and sink 17 piers, in addition to another 20 or so outside.

I have no carpet - our house is all tile and hardwood floors, so first they'll be ripped up and then they'll have to be replaced. The sheet rock, already cracked wide in several rooms, will crack even wider once the piers are in place and the house has been jacked up and then set back down. It might crack the granite counter tops, which would also need to be replaced. So after the chaos and mess of tearing up my floors will come the chaos and mess of replacing the floors and refloating the sheet rock and maybe re-doing counters. We'll have to jam furniture in corners and wrap it in tarps, but it'll still be covered with tons of dust and sheet rock pieces. The last time I had a house covered in dust was after Hurricane Ike, when we spent three weeks without electricity and the windows stayed open. When it was over, I called some talented house cleaners and they put everything back to rights in an afternoon. This will take longer.

We'll be able to live in the house while the work is being done--I'm not sure that's a good thing or not. I think I might rather visit the mess than live in it, but we'll see. We'll be doing it the week that Diva is on Spring Break, so I'll send her to stay with my sister for most of the time. (Any chaos, any mess, is exponentially increased by the presence of a ten-year-old tomboy.)

Point is, I have this thing where I can't write if I'm in the midst of chaos--at least, that's what I've always told myself. I can't sit down to write if my office is in a state of disarray, or the bedroom is messy, or I have kids running wild through the house. Hell, even if I'm at Starbucks, I have to have a clean table with my drinks and food arranged neatly. Just call me Monk.

I'll be at work for most of the day when the guys are working. At night, I guess I'll go down to the street to one of my sisters in law to get some writing done. And then I'll come home and try to sleep in a house filled with dust and crap. Will my writing suffer during this period? Probably - it's not like I'm prolific even in times of order and cleanliness. I do tend to use any excuse to procrastinate.

So I'm going to try to get a lot of writing done in February. Then I'll grit my teeth and suffer through March and by April, I'll have a (hopefully) crack-less house. Then I can throw myself into redecorating (and reorganizing, natch) my front room.

Diva keeps asking if we can please just leave everything as it is - she's not obsessively neat, like me, she just loathes change of any kind. But then I point to the cracks in the house:

and even she has to admit that, yeah, it's gotta be done. I mean, it's a lovely house on a lovely street, and I have nice furniture and modern appliances. But the walls say "urban hillbillies" and I'm not really down with that. I don't mind the urban hillbilly barn in the backyard, with the guns and woodworking equipment and enormous mechanic toolboxes and the poker table. Or the horses in the field behind the backyard. But the inside of the house, dammit, the inside of the house has to say "educated people who read books and brush their teeth regularly and don't conform to the worst stereotypes of flyover country held by the provincial bigots who staff the LAT/NYT/WaPo editorial pages live here."

So bring on the chaos. Hey, maybe I'll blog more to take my mind off it. What do y'all think?


daydrmzzz said...

Aww that suck Kinsey and I too am very sad not to have Miss Skylar with us all at RT. Best of luck with the writing and living conditions. I look forward to seeing you at RT :)

Meg Benjamin said...

OMG. I managed to avoid the whole refloating thing when we lived in SA, but the house we're selling has cracks in some rooms (worse thanks to the drought). I so don't want to think about that. My sympathies, Kins.

Unknown said...

Ah, the joys of living on a swamp. Feel free to use the porch at any time! Even if we aren't here.

PG Forte said...

Ugh. You have my sympathies, Kinsey, although I have to say I'm categorically NOT a neat freak and clutter...I think it's kind of like carbon dioxide. I've come to the conclusion I must be breathing it out. It's a natural by-product of living.

OTOH, I don't like chaos. I'm not unalterably opposed to change, but it depends on what's being changed. If there's something I like, I don't want it to change EVER. If I don't like it, change is good, change is my friend.

And messy? That's something I can totally live with--especially if it's someone else's mess and they expect me to clean it up. Uh-uh. Not happening.

Jeanette said...

Oh, yuck! That kind of upheaval is definitely not conducive to concentrating. Good luck!