Monday, January 07, 2008

Fighting flat surface disorder (FSD)

Otherwise known as clutter...on tables, counters, floors, bookshelves, pianos, microwave ovens...FSD is a plague.
I'm willing to believe that people's inability to cope with FSD is partly responsible for their going into debt for houses they can't afford and for garages filling up with junk as cars get pushed by necessity to the curbside. Yard sales are a natural outgrowth of FSD, but they do nothing to relieve the problem since the same people who unload stuff at them also frequent them looking for different stuff.
FSD strains marriages sending spouses into rants over the whereabouts of car keys and purses. "I left them right on the coffee table." You look at the coffee table and reach a sobering conclusion. Even it's true (which you doubt...blame and suspicion are part and parcel of FSD) there's no guarantee you'll find them anytime soon. Every time you disturb a pile which you've watched grow with the detached interest of a geologist observing an emergent cinder cone, you risk upsetting the angle of repose and sending catalogs, unopened mail, checkbooks, and tape dispensers cascading to the floor. Worse, if you move things, you lose them. Those of us who live cheek by jowl with FSD know how comfortable we become with knowing that things are buried in plain through obscurity they call it.
FSD stresses entire families by creating chronic crises at home...where are my socks, where's my favorite toy, where's the telephone, the electric bill... How many times have you reconsidered inviting people over dinner after estimating how long it would take to put away everything "temporarily" stored on the dining room table? Isn't kind of quaint to keep calling it a dining table?
Periodically, Beth and I declare war on FSD, employ a kind of scorched earth campaign, get most of the table and counter tops visible for a day or two and then watch morbidly as it all reverts back to its natural state....entropy....clutter.
The solution?...for the denialists like us it is simple. More shelves.
So here's what I did this weekend...Beth drew it and I built it. See the clutter on the desk (reduced greatly by our need to install the shelf unit). See the empty shelves above. Imagine the transformation.

Beth's genius is to turn our improvised and shoestring projects into opportunities for transformations of other kinds. It's never just about function. Some flat surfaces are not a field upon which our neuroses inevitably play themselves out. Some surfaces become the tabla rasa upon which we envision and project a more beautiful world...

it helps when they are vertical surfaces, of course.
ps. among the flamingo's many attributes are it's long and graceful legs (not unlike Beth's I might add) with enable it to step lightly and precisely over the clutter below in search of whatever it imagines it is looking for at the moment.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love it. I suffer from this disorder as well...organized chaos is what I like to call it. The smaller the space probably the better for me since I tend to spread out everything as much as I possibly can!!! Glad to see that you and the family are doing well. Kristine

2:24 PM  
Blogger adam jk gallardo said...

Adam and I are both pilers. Ugh. We just move 'em around and around in our tiny house. I related to much of what you said about how FSD affects your household. Our solution is also to go vertical! Lacking any drawing/building/painting skills, we're heading to Ikea (and maybe one or two of those garage sales this spring), in search of shelves!

5:12 PM  
Anonymous Missy said...

Er, sorry about that. That most recent comment was from me. Adam was still logged on and I didn't notice.

5:14 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

As a fellow sufferer from FSD, I can relate! I'm also what is known as a "nester". Within minutes of me sitting down, I have created a large nest of things: coffee mug, 2 books, sunglasses, down comforter, hair ties, etc. Good luck in your struggle against stuff! Hugs all around~

6:12 PM  
Anonymous K said...

I do believe I have a very bad case of FSD. Oh yes. My biggest flat surface would have to be... (guilty as charged) my floor. Honestly; who needs shelves when you can precariously weave in and out the various piles that create miniature walkways throughout the room. Then when you make a wrong turn you mysteriously end up on the wrong side of the room and you can't seem to figure out which path will take you to the right side of the room. Even worse - when you turn a corner then hit a dead end and the piles just start creeping up around you and there's no way to escape! Suddenly the piles begin to engulf you and find yourself being sucked in *cue dramatic music*, then, right before you are completely engulfed you see your single brown shoe... which is what you originally ventured into the jungle to find. But it's too late, you can't manage to find your way out! *dramatic music increases in volume* The last speck of artificial light disappears from view... all hope is lost. *lights dim*
Wow - I got a little carried away. Sorry 'bout that. Hope all goes well putting things in your shelf.

10:54 PM  

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