Monday, June 16, 2008

Possibly taking “Organizing” a tad too far

My DailyOM horoscope this morning added to my paranoia about hidden cameras in my house or telepaths eavesdropping on my brain (ha! I can only imagine the damage listening in to my brainwaves would do to a sane person!) by waxing philosophical about me having a need to get my stuff together today.

You may feel driven to spend a portion of your time putting your affairs in order today. This newly developed need to be organized may be a result of recent frustrations surrounding your inability to find the tools or resources you needed to effectively address your obligations. Or you may simply be in a logical mood that enables you to take pleasure in the structured beauty of an uncluttered space, orderly account, or a rationally arranged plan.

There are three muscular, talented carpenter-types in my house today tearing out walls and junk.

Yeah. That’s right. More home improvements.

So. In case you were wondering how well the LBYMs thing has been going? Well enough to have, in the last six months…

…paid off the bathroom remodeling loan
…paid off the car and Homer the Odyssey
…packed away a safety buffer in cash
…lost our minds completely and taken on Yet! Another! remodeling project

The first two things (car and bathroom remodeling loan) were wiped away by our tax refund. Not rebate – refund. Poor accounting on my part led to a pretty massive refund this year. Um, yay?

I am actually more than a little bit annoyed with myself about that. I tend to overwithhold from my W2 jobs to balance out my 1099 miscellaneous and stock market income (such as it is) (no danger THIS year, I fear). Last year, I had adjusted my husband’s withholdings up because we were in AMT territory and also I was making some cash on the side.

Then, I suddenly stopped working in April. Aaaaaaad I never got around to adjusting the withholdings on his paycheck. Sooooo we were paying way too much toward taxes. When I stopped working, we had actually already paid more than we should have paid for the year on our new, not-improved income.

Idiot. I could have really used that money last year, instead of giving Uncle Sam an interest-free loan so we can continue not funding issues here at home while we pour billions into “saving” nations that on the whole would really rather we didn’t. But I’m not bitter…I just digress. Frequently, and rantingly.


We were already making really good headway just by paying attention to what we spent on what things and cutting where appropriate (wine? not cutting that budget…Gameboy games the kids play one (1) time and then lose under the bed? Ask Grandma, sweetheart…).

Then we got the rebate and got busy on the e-fund. Then we got another large windfall that I used to pay off Homer the Odyssey and create an Insta-Emergency Fund.

Then right after I got back to work, we got a call from this contractor saying, “Hey, I still have this estimate on my desk – you guys wanna do that, or what?”

We wanna do it. So, here we go. I’m not taking out any new loans for this one (as long as they don’t find that our walls are coated in ectoplasm or that a family of rabid chipmunks has been chewing on the roof support beams for the last eighteen years or something), but I am stealing shamelessly from my emergency fund – not the brightest move in the current economy, but since my current pay will have the money back in there in about six weeks, eh. I’ll take the risk.

(And then a swarm of locusts descended on the Central Valley and ate everything in sight until a bout of insect dysentery caused by their shameless destruction of the remaining tomato crops caused a freak tsunami to swarm up the sloughs and wash away all the levees, resulting in the Entire! Central! Valley! being flooded to a depth of eighteen feet! Who, the public demands, is responsible…?! IT WAS TAMA! Who said, What could possibly go wrong? and drained her emergency fund to within only a few weeks worth of cash!, hence ensuring not only that BOTH of the vehicles they own immediately developed major mechanical issues not covered by warranty BUT ALSO that her water heater would immediately implode AND major physical disaster be wrought upon the entire middle slice of the state of California! LET’S GET HER!!!)

I’m sorry, where was I? Oh yeah. Yet More Remodeling. We are doing two things. In the office, we are tearing out a walk-in closet and replacing it with a custom-built work station. It should almost double the usable space in that room, which is getting more and more important as we are shifting more and more of our working-for-a-living from client sites to our own home office. We’re also customizing the wiring to better suit our needs – we are not your average “oh I have a cute little laptop, it’s GREEN!” users. We need big data channels and room for multiple machines running at once, decent fans to keep it cool and better handling of wires. Not a big job, and I doubt the contractor would have even given us the time of day without the upstairs project.

Up there, we’re replacing a “decorator feature” with something, I dunno, useful.

We have a big old ledge right by the front door. You’re supposed to put fake plants and statues and stuff on it. You know. “Decorator Feature.” I believe they add $20,000 to the cost of your home, on account of because they are Trendy and Some Junk.

What we’ve actually done with it is…{chirp, chirp, chirp}.

Yeah. Nothing. We had my spinning wheel on it for a while to keep it out of the kids’ reach, and we also put this…thing…my husband produced in art class about fifty million years ago on it…and also there was…dust, lots of powdery dust, welcome to the California Delta…and the kids would occasionally hurl toys onto it, and I’ve have to climb over the conflabbed railing to fetch them back and the kids would shriek, “OH MOMMY, BE CAREFUL!” at me and I would get all vertigo-y while simultaneously resisting the urge to jump off the ledge because oddly, I get that urge when I’m up high.

I worry about me sometimes, I really do. I have to assume that normal people do not peer over the railings of bridges and find themselves saying, “Ooooooh! I bet it would feel so awesome to jump off this thing!” and they’re envisioning the wind-in-hair part and the free-falling feeling and it just sounds so awesome, let’s DO IT!!!

Yeah, that first part might be great. It would be the !!!SPLAT!!! at the end that sucks. I’m not into bungee jumping, but parachuting might be in my future someday. Or hang gliding. Oh yeah, I could get into that, I just know I could. If I just had money I was willing to light on fire. If I had money I was willing to just light on fire, well shoot. I could hand it to the hang-glide dude and he could totally like teach me and some junk instead! Burning money would be bad for the environment anyway, right? Toxic fumes released into the air and all…

ANYWAY. (Adderall. Perhaps I needs it.)

In the hallway upstairs, on the other side of the wall behind the ledge, we had built-in cupboards. These cupboards were Where Stuff Went To Die. Pictures, ancient cleaning supplies, a bunch of lightbulbs for fixtures we no longer own. I did use about half of the bottom cupboard frequently – I kept the kids bedding in there. The other half was taken up with other bedding, old sheets I couldn’t bear to throw away and table linens I never use and stuff like that. Feather pillows we can’t use because of allergies, stuff like that.

The burly men are tearing out the cupboards and the walls. They are going to push the wall out to the edge of the ledge, adding about, oh, thirty-forty square feet or so of usable space.

California Closets is going to come back to my house (oh joy!) and custom build a student center there. It’s somewhat of an odd shape, so we’ll need someone who can custom-cut their stuff to fit. There will be cubbies and drawers for art and school supplies, a computer work station, a fairly good-sized indestructible drafting table thing for them to do their gluing and whatnot, and a small entertainment island with a small television for the gaming system I haven’t bought yet because I am cheap an old fuddy-duddy don’t really know if I believe in gaming systems am such a good parent that I would never, ever encourage my child to sit in front of an electronic babysitter for ten @*^&@ing minutes so I can finish just one @*^&@ing email.

Oh, that is so not true. I bribe them with video games all the time, but I pretend it is their idea and that I am just ever so reluctant to let them have it…well, OK…I guess if your room is absolutely spotless and you’ve eaten your carrots…wellllllllll…but just for thirty minutes, and I’m setting the timer right now… {Mommy rushes into the other room and sinks into a chair with a long sigh of r-e-l-i-e-f as the children huddle around the computer managing a pet spa or something equally foo-foo for thirty glorious minutes. Each. BWAHAHAHAHAHA.}

There will also be a largish (well, kid-size-large, anyway) drafting-style table for them to do artwork on, and a computer workstation for homework purposes. Eldest is getting her very own (ancient but functioning) laptop in her room soon, along with a new loft bed – she’ll have her own private quarters for writing and drawing. Because she is a very private person, and also is going to be a Famous Author someday. Famous Authors need peace and quiet and also privacy.

I know how it is, because when I was ten I was also going to be a Famous Author. Or a doctor. Or a veterinarian. Or a white water rafting guide. Or perhaps a fireperson. Not the President of the United States, his job is b-o-r-i-n-g. But maybe I might be in Congress, just for a little while.

Where was I going with this

Oh yeah. So, I have been on a major organizing bender lately. (Scroll way back up there. It was my horoscope about a need to get my affairs in order that set me off.) Even this latest home improvement spasm is really about organizing. The kids do their artwork on the kitchen table (or floor), and their homework sprawled in chairs all over the house. We’re always wrestling over the computer, with Eldest having reached the point in her school career where papers must be “typed” and researched. Their supplies are all over the house, and we’re constantly tripping over them wherever they’ve decided to set up.

I have been pulling everything out of every nook and cranny of the Den. I have been assessing each thing carefully – sometimes leaving it out for days on end while I ponder whether it Stays or Goes, and where it belongs if it is staying – before putting it away.

My bedroom looks like a storage shed barfed on it. Clothes, linens, crusty bottles of silver polish…it’s whacked.

I have been doing this in a strange kind of mindset, too. I’ve been living like I was dying a lot lately – which I’m not, before anybody gets all concerned. But I just have this feeling like I need to have everything optimized, so that if I weren’t around the Denizens could figure out the systems around here.

Maybe it’s just that whole Getting Back To Work thing. Because let’s face it: Even working from home part-time (yeah, let’s see how long THAT lasts!), I still will have considerably less time to collect scattered things together for their entertainment and edification. I’ll need to be able to put my hands on it immediately – or better yet, be able to tell them how to put their hands on it. No intervention from Mommy required.

Maybe it’s the phase of the moon or some kind of Aquarian biorhythm thing.

I don’t really know. I do know that I need to wrap it up quick – my house really does reflect my brain. With the house in a state of Extreme Muddle, I have even more trouble than usual (Adderall, I’m not kidding, I think I need it) staying focused on anything, and it is killing damn near everything I do.

But of course today…I’m banished from the upstairs while they are creating plumes of toxic dust. Insulation, possibly with rabid chipmunk spit on it, is being pulled out of interior walls – along with eighteen years worth of Valley dust and grime. Ew. OK, I just totally grossed myself out.

So I guess for today I’m going to focus on getting ready for a Big Cooking Day – I want to put about fourteen quick meals into the freezer to cover me on the increasingly-frequent days that I’m just way beyond the whole concept of making dinner by the time the Denizens are demanding same.

Onward and upward, dear friends…


Fibra Artysta said...

I think it is the job thing. I work full time and when I have breaks from work (company shutdowns) I am more inclined to let things slide and just shuffle things around. But when my work schedule is in full swing, I'm hyper organized because I don't want to have to think about anything.

The new stuff sounds awesome! I love the custom organized stuff, its like crack to me! LOL! :)

Kaviare said...

I get this wierd urge to throw my electric devices and/or wallets off of bridges or out open windows of moving cars. I don't knwo WHAT that's about, becauase I would just be DEVASTATED if my iPod ever happened to make it over the rail, but the urge is sometimes so strong that I have to keep a really firm grip on said device.

People are weird.

Isn't organising fun? I'ts waaaaaay more fun than trying to KEEP the dang stuff organised.

Barb said...

You always inspire me so. Thanks!

Also, don't forget to write off that office remodel, since you're self-employed now. (Not that you would forget. You're an expert at this stuff.)

Enjoy your new organized home. What fun.

geeksbewithyou said...

Just stumbled across your blog lately (through some covoluted knitting-related web surfing, I think) and enjoy it. Thanks.

Science PhD Mom said...

Could you just throw some of that organizing impulse my way? Because my craft stash is still in need of help. Thanks much...