Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Fumbling Toward Forty: The Pile of Denial

It's tempting to treat or to view this upcoming milestone--turning 40--like New Year's, by making resolutions and vowing to myself a whole new lease on life. I've thought of a few ways to improve myself, like sign up for yoga. Try vegetarianism. Get up earlier and...get some stuff done. Quit shopping. Read a parenting book.

But that is not how I want to usher in my next decade. Because I can already see myself, next year: Forty years old, happily eating a hot dog and wearing a new shirt from Target after sleeping in on a Sunday (Corpse Pose, hey!) and then putting the kids in Time Out for the ninetieth time. While dragging around the ball and chain of all that was going to be different between age 39 and, well, a few months later. Honestly, I would just tear that ankle bracelet off and dare myself to track me down. 'Cause, really? Then what would I do? I'm so forgiving of myself that my threats would just make me shake my own head and then give myself a hug of understanding.

So it's nonsense for me to embark on that kind of mid-life metamorphosis. I know it from the olden days when I actually tried to turn on a dime and eat better and exercise more and save more money and be less snarky. Cold-turkey quests are quickly abandoned; I gotta ease into these things the lukewarm way. Such that they slowly but surely and despite me become part of me.

No grand pronouncements.

And yet, there's an area of self-loathing in my life. There's this thing I do, that whenever I love myself a little too much, I remind myself of it to keep myself honest and humble. I point to it with my best look of disdain and disappointment, and make myself actually feel guilty.

I think this proclivity is genetic, but that's no excuse. It's ugly; it attracts vermin; it results in unpaid bills. It's a damned shame, and I need help.

I'm a Piler.

You may not know this about me, because I hide it at work. I get things done; I mostly don't let people down.

But at home, I let it all hang out: corners askew, envelopes torn, pages marked and unread, The Pile of Denial threatens to overtake its desk.

You should be worried, friends. Your wedding invitation is in there. A letter I wrote you and never sent is lost in a sea of bills urging me to sign up for "paperless."

I'm not proud. The Denial part is Me convincing myself you don't need my RSVP; you already know I'm coming. It's Me hoping that just because I said on the phone I would send in my $25 pledge IMMEDIATELY, it doesn't truly matter if it's in this calendar year. It's Me swearing that I am going to read that article in that magazine, someday. SOON!

Dang it, why can't there be blizzards in San Diego??? When we were snowed in for a week in Washington, D.C. back in 1995, I got my ever-loving Affairs In Order. And it felt good.

But now, I need intervention. The Pile of Denial is why my car registration incurred a $150 late surcharge. It's why I don't have the discount coupon for LEGOLAND and will probably pay full price when we take Little Sis on Thursday. It's why I reprinted the directions to the pumpkin patch. It's why Big Sis's adorable drawing from kindergarten is a wrinkled, silver-fish-chomped-on mess.

How do you organize the paper influx? The mail? The kids' work? The magazines and catalogs? Is there hope for me by 40? This, my friends, is the last frontier in the battle for Me, Loving Myself Completely. In every other way I am perfect (OK, well, I thought I made a mistake once, but I was wrong.).

I'm taking suggestions. But no paper, please.


Heather PC said...

You know me...I don't think I can give advice worth taking on managing piles. I go through, pick out the important stuff, then stick all the rest in a box, swearing to myself that I will file it later. To my husband's chagrin, there are several cardboard boxes (and paper bags) awaiting re-assortment, in addition to approximately ten file boxes that I have half-begun to organize and never finished, PLUS all my school school file boxes that have never been properly put into order. If I could manage my own stuff, we'd have twice as much room in the basement. Hey! Here's my suggestion: dig a basement for your house, stick all your piles in it, then promise that you'll get to it by fifty.

Jared and Kate said...

Hate to break it to you, sis, but you have genetics working against you. Have you seen Mom's kitchen bookshelves?!?!? :-)

I do have some advice though...set a day each week to at least organize the items into folders such as "response required," "taxes," "pending bills," "filing," and "paid." You may not actually get to the paper, but it will look nicer. :-) Also, for artwork, we have a nice little portfolio for Jack's artwork we want to keep (http://www.amazon.com/Alex-Toys-Art-Expandable-File/dp/B000HV0XLS) and we have the medical notebooks for each kid (http://www.healthetracks.com/).