As it turns out, I have a fear of drawers. God. It's so humiliating. I never thought it would come to this. I really didn't. But I should explain, so you don't get the wrong idea. Let's see...how to...Ah! Okay: When Honey is standing next to an open door and her tail brushes against it and it moves ever so slightly, she jumps about three feet out of her skin and assumes a stance like she's bracing for impact of a nuclear explosion. Ears back, tail between her legs. She doesn't pee, but it's not from lack of want. To her, it must seem that the door has suddenly taken life and begun to move on it's own accord, confirming her deep suspicion that inanimate objects, like her rope-toy for instance, are actually malevolent, supernatural life forms, just waiting to pray upon her, which is why she must take them down. Closet door movement, or kitchen stove door movement, or sliding freezer drawer movement, these all scare the bejeezus out of her. And she's chock full of bejeezus, man.
So I want to make clear, first of all, that my fear of drawers is NOT this kind of fear. They don't cause me to jump in fright. And I lose very little in the way of bejeezus when I see them. However, like Honey's fear, the root cause of my drawer phobia may indeed have something to do with a general uneasiness when it comes to magic and all things supernatural. Because the thing I can't get over is this: once I put something in a drawer or a file cabinet, that item essentially disappears. Not just from sight. But from existence.
I learned from an article
I read in the NY Times recently that I'm the type of person who likes to have every document and paper within easy reach, and I don't like using file folders because "out of sight" is indeed "out of mind." It's why everything I'm working on tends to be out in plain view, either on my desk or on the floor around me. This way I can always see it.
On some level, I guess I've always known this about myself—that I need to be able to see things in order to remember they are there. I suppose it's why I've always resisted filing things in any sort of traditional way. The problem has to do with finding the document, or paper, or whatever it is, ever again. I should say, though, that some things are fine to file. Bills, for instance. I don't want to be reminded that bills exist. So putting old bills in a file cabinet is a perfect solution for them. Moreover, figuring out what to call the folder is pretty easy: "Credit Cards, 2008," or "Utilities, 2007" or "Mayonnaise Expenditures, 2004-2006," (those were wild years.)
Once you've labeled the folders, then you just stick those suckers in the file cabinet in some random way and even though you have no idea exactly where in the drawer the folder is, you're fairly sure it's in there and all you've got to do is be able to read the tabs you've marked in order to find it again...IF you ever need to find it again, which hopefully you won't.
But what about the stuff that doesn't lend itself to easy categorization? Where should I put the great New York Traffic Ticket of 2009, for instance? In a folder called "Traffic Tickets," perhaps? But does it really need to have it's own folder? Maybe I should stick it in the car maintenance folder. The car loan folder? The insurance folder, since this is where it will have the biggest impact? I'm usually overwhelmed by the choices at this point and I just opt for someplace on my desk.
You see? It's the fear
, baby. The fear of drawers. The fear of putting things away and never finding them again.
Several years ago, I started using a "box" system. It's similar to the system the professional organizer advocates in the article I link to above. Which makes me feel very smart for having come up with it on my own, and like maybe I could make a career out of this. Or maybe not. In any case, my box system has allowed me to have catch-all bins where I can toss things without committing myself too deeply to a specific category. I labeled the four original bins "Do," "Done," "Keep," and "Biz." And recently I added two others: "Receipts" and "Medical." In general, anything that isn't easily fileable will fall into one of these conceptual categories. And even if my brain switches on itself and decides that a different category makes better sense for a particular item after I've already put it in one of the other boxes, there's still only six boxes to choose from and I at least know it's in one of them.
You might say—and you might be right—that this really amounts to the same thing as tucking it inside a file folder and sticking it in a drawer. But I think the difference is that the boxes are right there in front of me at all times. I can SEE them. And the labels are there staring back at me. There's comfort in that. And I can easily take a box down and rifle through it during moments of sheer panic, which is nice. And then when I'm done, I can just throw everything back in it and pretend the whole episode never happened.
Believe me, it's so much simpler this way.
link to this
| comments (5)