Tuesday, February 11, 2014

(Dis)Order


One of our most prized possessions is our collection of books. Ever since college, DH and I never hesitated to buy (albeit used) textbooks and books for pleasure reading (as opposed to renting or borrowing them). Even as starving college students, we'd forego new clothes and sometimes food, but paid for our books and kept them. Twenty plus years of books (except one box of lost books from our cross-country move, which, in fact, contained many of my Norton Anthologies, sigh) means there are bookshelves in every room in our house.

And they all possess a very special trait: proper alignment.

Each book is aligned exactly the same distance from the edge of the bookshelf as another. All the books are flushed against an imaginary line about an inch into the shelf.

I realized DH had a compulsion for such (dis)order, among others, early on. I'd have a friend over who borrowed a book, and DH would know exactly which book it was with one glance on his bookshelf. That tiny little gap left between the neighbors of the missing book or the unevenness of any cluster of books would be all the clue he needed to know which book is gone.

This behavior was so amusing to me that there may have been occasions where every few books or so got pushed in all the way in to the back of the shelf. Cuz there'd be some serious reaction from a dorky mate the Love of My Life. Until I realized that I was the only one that thought it was funny. He really detested out-of-place books. And anyone who caused such disarray of his beloved books and bookshelves.

So the playfulness (on my part) got old and I quit teasing DH. But soon enough, the kiddos came along. Young DD learned very early on how quirky Daddy can be whenever his books were "disturbed." Years later, when DS was mobile and explored the bookshelves, DD would be quick to advise her baby brother not to touch the books. Of course, DS would always give a devilish look to his Daddy, push in a handful of books, and bust out a hearty belly laugh.

Even though he tortured his poor Daddy back then, look who's inherited the Orderly genes now.




It's also not a wonder why DS is our go-to person when we cannot find something in the house.


Over the years, I began to find things from which I craved order. Things that were lined up, symmetrical, or uniform appeared pleasing to my eyes and comforting to my mind. Straight edges and right angles gave me a sense of precision and security. Not that I didn't like creative and spontaneous brush strokes or freehand lines, but without the reference of a grid, I wouldn't be able to appreciate the genius of unstructured designs.

Which is why I utterly obsess over the art of knitting. The rows upon rows of perfect stitches is total joy for my eyes.




The process is methodical, yet can be creative based upon a set of basic stitches to make new designs. The final product is a piece of art, because each and every stitch is placed intentionally and perfectly to yield a pattern.




It is also probably why I love to to bake, as the precision in measurement is an integral part of the probability of a successful outcome. But with a basic recipe of stock ingredients, one can still exercise imagination and ingenuity by substituting or adding new ingredients. Again, chaos among order, creativity among structure.


Interestingly, DD has no signs of such compulsions whatsoever. She may have had some as a little girl, but all evidence points to the fact that she's outgrown it--she just does not need all her ducks lined up in a row. She is by no means very messy or totally disorganized, but she'd be the last person to find something in this house. In fact, she could be looking for something staring right at her and she'd declare--with absolute certainty--its non-existence. I'd say that she got more share of my genes in that department.




However.

Just the other day, I watched a child walk by a wall-to-wall bookshelf and push in books by the handful WITH.EACH.STRIDE. Every length of hair on my body stood up, and I tried, achingly, to hide the horrified look on my face. No one else in the room even noticed or had one ounce of reaction.

This is a fine example of nature versus nurture.

I've inherited DH's compulsion via environmental institutionalization.

We are a hopeless bunch.

Except maybe for DD.

Run, Daughter, run!




14 comments:

  1. There's nothing wrong with a little order, and I think your bookshelves look lovely (tell your husband for me). Your knitting is beautiful and I can see why you like doing it. I haven't ever tried knitting before, but I'm not sure I'd have the patience for it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did tell DH you like his bookshelf, and he responded with a big, proud smile. :) Knitting takes up so much TIME, and I find that hard to come by these days, so I try to do little projects now. My fingers get all worked up when I see beautiful yarn, though! Thanks, Shannon!

      Delete
  2. I envy this kind of organization. I was behind the door when it was handed out! :-) I'm happy if the book makes it back to the bookshelf at all. Reading this was so interesting to me and made me realize I basically live in chaos. Heh. Oh well. I've been working on it but as I said, it doesn't come naturally to me. I love to bake too but I get frustrated with crafts like knitting because I expect perfection and I can't produce it. Your knitting DOES look like perfection to me. SO beautiful! I wonder how much of the order gene is passed on from the household a person grows up in. Did your hubby have parents who had everything in its place?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Chrisor! My books find their way back to the shelves courtesy of my DH! He can't stand books just laying around. But I think we all choose our areas of organization. My motto is: I don't lose things; I just can't find them at the moment. Interesting question you ask: DH says that he's the anomaly of his family. Neither his parents nor siblings have their ducks all lined up. I got "worse" over the years with DH (I blame it on him). So I don't think it's necessarily genetics or the environment as much as one's own quirky personality. It'd be interesting to see if DS grows out of it (though I don't think he will). Thanks for your compliments!

      Delete
  3. Oh goodness, you and your husband would cringe if you saw my bookcase! I used to be much more neat and organized before the kids came along. I guess I've learned to adapt to some amount of disorganization, mainly because I don't invest as much time in keeping things as neat as I would like. The kitchen is the only place that I keep consistently orderly because I can't cook in a messy kitchen! I wish my kids kept their rooms neater, but I try to let them have their space.

    I love the photos of your knitting - you do have perfect rows of stitches!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Janna, no... we just have our areas of compulsion. It's definitely not like that in every corner of our house, nor every aspect of our lives! :) Adding kids to the mix makes everything harder, too! Thanks for your kind words about the knitting--I wish I had more time for that!

      Delete
  4. And I'll bet that, like mine, your books are all organized by topic and author and series, right? ;)

    We've cut down significantly on the books we own as we go to the library weekly, but having that book in your hands that you know is yours that you can go read anytime... those are the special ones.

    And woe betide anyone who messes up where I've created order. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Michelle, DH organizes our bookshelves, and I think he does them by genre and book size. I do like his system since it's easy to find books. I know that we are "owning" fewer physical books, too, but that's because I'm reading most of my books on my Kindle. DH prefers real books; I prefer "light-weight and easy to carry." I do love owning certain children's books, though. You know, the classics.

      And I like that you like order! :)

      Delete
  5. The number of books we own is a fraction compared to you, but I do appreciate a little order to the way they line up on a shelf. Along the same lines, my closet is organized by color. It helps when putting together an outfit to go straight to a specific color and find the right top for my mood!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Nilsa! Every time we move to a new place, we always had to make sure there'd be enough room for the books! Whether out on shelves or packed in boxes!! And the only two colors my closet is organized by are: black pants and jeans. I don't have a lot of clothes to organize by colors :)

      Delete
  6. Wow, the bookshelf thing is compulsive ;). Sure, I like my books organized and I settled for by color and height. Fun that DS got that trait but DD did not. It's amazing to see the differences in the 2 children.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is indeed a complusion, Lisa, and it's not DH's only one. Unfortunately, they're all rubbing off on me. More on that maybe in a later post. In this area, my kiddos are polar opposites. It is quite funny!

      Delete
  7. This compulsion reminds me of my FIL. With him, everything had just to be so. Its kind of maddening but, on the other hand, it is nice to have neatness and order and to be able to find things when you need them.

    Hereabouts in our home, the rule is chaos. I have ditched my propensity to straighten things out and keep things neat for my own peace of mind and peace in the family. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Imelda, I hope that our compulsion isn't "maddening" for others around here. We try not to impose anything on family or guests, but you never know how others may feel. You still have very young kids, so it is too hard to keep anything orderly. I wouldn't be too hard on yourself! Things might get better as the boys get older! :)

      Delete