A few weeks after the new year started, I sat down with a notebook and a new pen fresh out of the package, and I labored to block print the word I labor over every year—
O – R – G – A – N – I—
(Wait. Before we go any further, I’d like to say that I no longer do New Year’s Resolutions because my brain reads them as “Things You Must Never, Ever Do,” which scraps the point entirely, doesn’t it? Okay. Let’s continue.)
—Z – A – T – I – O – N.
Every year— every new year that is— finds me awash with a pinkish optimism for the methodology of living.
I come by my organizational desire natively. It is the product of a brain that desires fluidity and patterns. It is also the product of a brain that functions like an uncorked jar of marbles in a car with no shocks.
Every year, I write this magical word on the top of that clean white page in a familiar notebook that looks nibbled at the edges And, every year, as an afterthought, I underline the word “organization” as if to shake hands with myself.
Thus begins my yearly well-meant quest to perfect my “system” of running my life. For an idyllic hour or two, I frantically scrape organizational-type thoughts across that white page: “Learn to garden!” “Find those old school clamp on library labels for the pantry!” —and on and on until the sun sets or my writing hand starts to spasm.
This year, though, turned out to be quite a different organizational beast.
You see, this year, I have a smart phone, which means that I am learning to create a completely new set of dumb organizational problems for myself. Digital problems.
Dutifully, I wrote down my issues with new media and possible solutions, problems mostly derived from sources on the internet who are already intimate with these binary tangles.
The rest of the items on the page were familiar organizing obstacles that I attacked with familiar zeal. Cleaning? Chore wheel. Laundry? Baskets!
But some of the digital issues had me stumped.
For instance, I’ve never had a functioning RSS feed.
I know, I know. I’m old-fashioned like that. I bookmark the blogs and sites I read, and go and visit them willy-nilly. As for the blogs that I’m devoted to reading, WordPress provides a perfectly functional RSS-type reader but it is web-only, meaning I can’t read stories offline.
This is where things started to slide into the direction that they are wont to slide when I try to fix things that aren’t in arrears.
To stitch out a solution, I read seventeen articles and bookmarked thirteen sites. And, as a result of my labors, I ended up downloading three different RSS readers that are, as you and I speak, compiling a tsunami’s worth of information that I will never, ever have time to read.
This is how I fix things. I create elaborate systems with old galoshes and rusty gears and a mouse doing the mambo on a rocking dinner plate.
I am my own Rube Goldberg machine, exerting a hysterical amount of twitches and sight gags just to pour myself a glass of water.
Listen— I am casting myself back to a single day two weeks ago when I sat down to solve all of my organizational problems in one afternoon by writing them down in a composition notebook. I was smiling then, and I am smiling now— because I know who I am.
I’m hopeful. Or a little wild-headed. Who uses three RSS feeders? Who would bother to research the best way to read the stories she loves by the people she loves, and come up with such a baroque solution?
Who would talk about it with such sincerity on a sunny afternoon like today?
Me and just about everybody I know, that’s who.
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