Thursday, December 19, 2013


Tomorrow will be our last major day of work with the professional organizer we began working with in the spring to get our home—just on the cusp of becoming a cramped rental storage unit that just happened to have three people in it—into shape to (potentially) put on the market.

Working with an organizer was a revelation for me, a gal who has always craved clear, uncluttered spaces, but has lacked the basic understanding of how to make that happen. I know, if you are really neat and organized, this makes no sense: how do people not know how to pick up? What can I say? Even my attempts to straighten—which made the house look neat and organized—only made things more chaotic, as they multiplied the number of items put away with the "stick this thing in that spot because it fits even if it has nothing to do with anything else there" method.

I did say I was clueless about organizing my home, right?

I'm not exactly sure how I have always been able to stay really organized at school and work, but have had a messy room since I was a kid. As I've learned more techniques from Susan, our organizer, I've realized that I have used these same organizational skills in other areas of my life for as long as I can remember. Even in my work doing organizational development consulting, I preach, teach, and help to establish the same kinds of practices with human beings that Susan uses to help me make my closet something useful and inviting all the time. If I can do it with people, you'd think purses wouldn't pose a challenge, but the brain is a complicated and fickle instrument that does not always use a universal skills translator. With Christmas looming presently, and the promise of a bunch of new things coming to the house, I wonder if I will need to hire an interpreter to make sense of how to find a home for everything coming in.

Working with Susan has been wonderful, and I would highly recommend hiring an organizer (especially her!) based on our experience. Our home is so much more manageable, our space is easier to straighten, and we are now able to find 90% of our stuff in a snap. This does mean, though, that we can't find 10% of our stuff easily, and when this happens, we have discovered the missing items are well and truly hidden. My sense is that these things are either sorted/labeled/packed up away somewhere clever (but out of sight), or more often, "gone" because one of us did not remember their new designated spot, and put them in the wrong place.

This past week, I thought I was going to lose my mind looking for clean underwear. Yes, UNDERWEAR, namely MY UNDERWEAR. I knew that I had put underwear into the wash not once, not twice, but three times the previous week. There was none left in the hamper, and yet, based on what I was finding in my drawer, I was becoming dangerously close to hand-washing my undergarments at night just to have something clean the next day. I didn't want to chance placing any more pairs in the wash again if they were just going to go missing, too—I hate laundry enough already, I don't need the added concern that my dryer has become the Hotel California. By day three of "Where have all the undies gone? (Long-time washing)" I resorted to wearing "that one pair of underwear that fits, so you don't throw it away, but is really uncomfortable." I followed up the next day with "that older pair with the elastic that isn't very reliable, so it must be pulled up 55 times a day." When I reached D-Day---the day no underwear could be found at all—I asked Mike again, as I had every previous day, "Have you seen any of my underwear? Did you put any of it away when you put the clothes away?" He had nothing but blank stares and shoulder shrugs for me, but looked sympathetic, then headed to his office to start work for the day.

At that point, I went on an underwear-finding rampage, putting all my previous attempts to find them to shame. Have I mentioned that I am terrible at finding things? When other wives comment on how their husbands can't even find a thing, I just bow my head, trying to avert eye-gaze; in this house, Mike is the finder. I knew I might need to call him in eventually, because I tend not to see things right in front of me, but wanted to avoid bothering him as long as I could.

I checked my underwear drawer three times, as if either my eyes hadn't worked the first time, or magical underpants gnomes were going to pop in and deliver them while the drawer was closed.  I went into my shirt drawer, my sock drawer, my jewelry drawer, even pulling things out and checking all around. Finally, when I opened my pants drawer, I found the treasure trove: next to the lone drawer-divider I use in my drawers (to separate summer from winter pants), hidden under a pair of July-weight yoga pants, were at least eight pairs of undies, waiting for me all folded and ready.

At first, I felt happy that I had found them. I don't find anything! Then, I wanted to get down to the bottom of this, as I knew—or at least I hoped—that I wasn't the one who had put all the underwear into hiding. I called Mike in to ask him where my underwear drawer is, and sure enough, he pointed to my pants drawer. Aha! This is what I should have done a week ago. I showed him my underwear drawer, with every other bit of underclothing in it, in a totally separate piece of furniture on a different wall of our room from my pants. "Oh," he said sheepishly, and then we started laughing. "Yeah, I guess I did put that away, didn't I?" Wait---your underwear drawer is the same as it has always been? You didn't move it?"

Yes, that is the trick of the organized house. One of the only places in our home that truly did not change in any functional way once the organizer came was my underwear drawer, so therefore, it was the hardest place in the house to find.


  1. Hi Kori,
    Great post and I can tell you are truly trying to get organized! I know with my clients when they are ready to make a change, they have to really want it or the changes will not last. Thanks for sharing!
    PS So glad you found your culottes! I hate those uncomfortable ones that slide down...;)

  2. hilarious. This is why i stopped letting my husband put away laundry (that and, i realized that the more time i spend putting away laundry, the more episodes of Orange Is the New Black I can get through.) Also, i have those same pairs of underwear.