I live in a house that someone keeps neat as Eden before the snake. Accolades to that person, for as we all know—though close to Godliness—cleanliness is not magic. I have a corner, a room, in this palace that the cleanliness obsesser does not enter except to see if I am alive and pass along messages from the world of neat and orderly. I am usually alive and the messages, if on paper, are around here somewhere. If verbal I write them on scraps of paper which are also around here somewhere. So, If you want messy, Let me describe my working quarters to you.
Behind the door is a sleeping bag and an outdoor mattress hanging from hooks on the wall. There are also pieces of miscellaneous flat stuff—including, I believe, a section of plywood and perhaps some sheets of mat board and maybe a melamine laminate sheet—leaning in this quite packed 6-or 8-inch space. They may be leaning against the wall. They may be leaning against the door. They may be absolutely vertical and still be leaning against something. I’m not going to look right now. If I move the rock holding the door open, what is behind the door will push it shut and we may have a doorway blockage. Yes, there is a rock in front of the door. Small margins of order are maintained in this room by rocks holding things.
Perhaps the white board against the far wall and the two book cases on the wall to the right of the doorway suggest to you a place of order. Perhaps a desk with filing drawers, a couple of other filing cabinets suggest to you that order is a prevailing notion in this room. But, a closer review of the details regarding these ordering furnishings might suggest something at odds with this suggestion.
The white board is beside the window that looks out onto a wonderful rocky hill. I sometimes spend hours watching the rocks not tumble down from that hill, not bounce across the road and not blast through the wall of this chamber. While sitting there contemplating the notness of these possibilities, I often glance at the white board. And I notice that at the top of it are the words: “Review Janet’s Novel.”
“Review Janet’s Novel” has been at the top of the white board since before Christmas. I gave Janet my comments sometime in January—
It is now March. The reason that “Review Janet’s Novel” is still on the white board—along with a miscellany of other instruction that may or may not have been completed—is that sometime in early January, a resolution to pursue talents in the arena of the visual arts prompted the installation of a portable easel in front of the window so that the rocks that were not crashing through my chamber wall could be painted. To erase “Review Janet’s Novel” would require climbing over or disassembling the easel or the desk and moving the vacuum cleaner.
The desk is several tons in weight, as measured in I-have-moved-it-once-and-by-God-it-is-not-moving-again. The desk would also be difficult to move because it is held down by folders, valises, books, notebooks, dictionaries, thesauruses, and other illusions of order- making, which are in turn held down by rocks. The easel is not moved because moving the easel would mean that the rocks on the hill outside my window probably would not get painted (end of resolution). Not that much progress has been made on the rock-not-tumbling-painting, but opportunities are fostered by the presence of proper equipment not its storage. And moving the easel would mean finding a place for it other than in front of the window and the whiteboard. This would mean storage and, so, probably end of resolution. So the easel is not to be moved. As for the vacuum cleaner. Moving it would suggest to the mover that the floor needs to be vacuumed. So far sweeping quickly once every week or two has sufficed, and so there is little motive to move the vacuum cleaner.
It appears “Review Janet’s Novel” will remain on the white board for the foreseeable future. I know the job is done. Janet knows I’ve done it. Why take so much trouble to erase what we already know.
I believe I mentioned book cases along one wall earlier in this diatribe on messiness. They are not book cases they are storage shelves, holding the messy odds and ends of a life lived long, well, but not particularly with any designed order. Most of the detritus on these shelves are the chaos of previous resolutions to enhance creative talents and enjoyment of Montana. There are stacks of half filled sketchbooks, notebooks, three ring binders, and loose pieces of paper ragging out from among everything. There are also camping sacks stuffed with camping stoves, first aid packs, freeze dried dinners, and other camping sacks; there are fly-tying materials —pheasant capes, shiny plastic, deer, elk, and moose hair, hooks, a vice, etc., some of it flopping loosely over the shelving, some of it in a dusty old plastic cabinet that squeaks when you pull the drawers open; There are warped and crumpled cardboard boxes with who-knows-what in them—the list is too messy to deal with right now. Ditto much of the rest of the miscellany on these dusty shelves.
I will conclude by noting that some time ago the cat knocked over my parent’s photograph which I have placed on top of the storage shelves. Who knows when; the cat will not tell me even if I asked. But I notice it as I am researching the chaos of this lovely, lively work space. Fortunately there is nothing between me and these shelves except a floor littered with cat hair, today’s collection of cat litter—need to sweep again—and dust. So I step away from this little story on messiness to set Mom and Dad’s photo square, which is a perfect alignment for them. While there, I adjust the sign that I have placed beside the photo. I shove a little rock against it to brace it. The sign, in bold and unabashed lettering reads: MAN CAVE.