As my younger sister has so wisely observed, many people become more aware of their messiness when living with others (who are not related to them). This is obviously a generalization, but it definitely has merit. When you live with other people, you are more likely to notice how your particular messiness affects these other people (assuming that you generally have a clue about what’s going on around you. Which I have realized is apparently a pretty big assumption to make). For example: I am much more aware of how often and how long I leave my dishes in the sink (we don’t have a dishwasher) when I’m living with people who aren’t in my family (don’t ask why I’m ok with it with my family. I don’t know why).
I am by no means a neat-freak, and I will be the first to admit it. In the realm of mess, I inhabit the arena of clutter.
Exhibit A: my old office
Exhibit B: my current desk and surrounding area
I collect clutter quite easily. My desk has looked like that since about 5 days after I moved into my apartment. My school supplies – notebooks, stuff for production class, etc. – are sitting on the floor and have been since the first week of classes. Sitting right in front of my computer are my beloved-but-broken giant white sunglasses that I just can’t bring myself to throw out. You get the idea.
I sometimes wish I was an organized person, but I’m just not and probably never will be. I actually prefer a slightly cluttered work area to a completely organized area – when everything is organized and perfect all the time, it makes me nervous to move anything or put anything on the desk, for fear of messing up the organization. And then it sucks when I do eventually mess up the organization. So I just keep it cluttered and avoid that problem.
I don’t usually mind other people’s tendency to clutter either. I don’t mind cereal boxes out on the counter or the baking sheet left on top of the stove or a certain amount of dishes stacked in the sink. I don’t care if you leave your school books on the coffee table or your laptop charger in the outlet in the living room.
That all being said, there are certain forms of messiness where even I draw a line. Primarily – food. An actual statement spoken by me to one of my roommates a few weeks ago: “Do you know who left a half-eaten roll sitting on a magazine on the coffee table?” (that roll sat there for two days). Right now, I could easily replace the second half of that sentence with “…half of an opened stick of butter on the counter?” or “…a single rotting banana on the counter?”
I am probably borderline paranoid about food in some ways. I don’t like putting my food directly on countertops unless I known the countertop is clean. I don’t even like putting my utensils directly on the counter unless I know it’s clean. I always seal my food properly before putting it in the refrigerator and if there’s any question in my mind about whether or not food has gone bad, I throw it out. I honestly can’t even wrap my mind around the idea that someone would leave half of an opened stick of butter (sitting on the wrapper, at least) sitting on the counter for several days. This is the second time I’ve seen that, by the way.