Saturday, January 20, 2007

I Need More Articles Like This

I saw the link for this New York Times article, Saying Yes to Mess at Mental Multivitamin and after reading it I have decided to change my plans for the day. I was going to attempt to organize and clean (an endless pursuit at my house), but now I feel validated in my squalor and will read, play Blokus with my children, finish my seed order, bake a cake, and just be me, because:
Studies are piling up that show that messy desks are the vivid signatures of people with creative, limber minds (who reap higher salaries than those with neat “office landscapes”) and that messy closet owners are probably better parents and nicer and cooler than their tidier counterparts. It’s a movement that confirms what you have known, deep down, all along: really neat people are not avatars of the good life; they are humorless and inflexible prigs, and have way too much time on their hands.
Isn't it funny how a few written words can make such a difference in perceptions. I truly like this line:
Mess has resonance, they write, which means it can vibrate beyond its own confines and connect to the larger world.
I am "connect[ing] to the larger world," so don't expect a tidy house, today.


wisteria said...

Some people are not able to post comments, as usual. I got this nice one from Jove at

This is the comment I would have left:

Congratulations! I agree wholeheartedly. My view is
that mess is a problem when you can't find things or
don't have space to do things. There are too many
people who are trying to meet some arbitrary external
standard for what their house needs to look like. I
know people personally who really like a tidy,
organized house and that is great for them. But for
those of us who are not bothered by mess (except for
that gremlin with our mother's voice... or is that
just me?) and can find what we need when we need it
and can do what we need to do, that's fine.

I do occasionally feel the need to figure out what
material is supporting all the paper (I think it is
wood, I can even see a couple of square inches here
and there) but the neat freaks are usually amazed when
i can reach into that mess on my desk (I don't even do
piles) and pull out exactly what they just asked me

Also, I used to have a colleague with a very neat
office who regularly lost things by filing them.


zilla said...

Interesting article and I agree with Jove's view, mostly, I think. Funny thing happened here yesterday -- as you know, we have a houseful this weekend. Mr Z came into the kitchen to put a dish in the just-unloaded dishwasher and noticed a few plates and glasses in the sink. I was both surprised and irritated when he suggested instituting a fine: how about if the person failing to put a dish in the dishwasher has to pay a dollar and the person putting someone else's dish into the dishwasher receives the dollar? I clenched my teeth and said, "Just. Let. It. Go." He became very defensive. "Oh, so we should just let everything GO now?" So I marched into the living room and snatched his dirty socks off the end of the sofa (they had been there for two days) and smiled as I tossed them into the hamper. I said, "I think it's pretty typical for people to be annoyed by the messes of others while somehow managing to be completely unaware of their own."

I'm a "cycler." Sometimes the cycle is a bit irregular, and there is never a day when the entire house is neat and organized. I tend not to lose things even when my workspaces seem cluttered to the untrained eye, but regardless of the clutter level in private or public spaces, other people in the house lose things, daily, even multiple times daily, and it drives me bananas -- not because I judge, but because their stress level goes through the roof and they want me to take time away from what I'm doing in order to find their lost items. These people, I think, could stand to alter their cycling.