Archive for March 11th, 2008

I Spy with My Little Eye, contents of Em’s backpack (find 1 pepperoni stick,
2 Gatorades, 3 sandwiches in various states of eaten, 8 pencils, 2 bobble-
heads, 1 sweater), photo © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

mess (mes), n. 1. a dirty or untidy mass or group of things;
dirty or untidy condition. 2. confusion; difficulty. 3. an
unpleasant or unsuccessful affair or state of affairs.*

My cubicle at work has Post-it notes from last year. Paper files line up in a metal file organizer, which looks tidy, except I haven’t used paper files since 2005.

One time someone came into my cube and asked if I was still drinking out of the ten or twelve water bottles on my desk. When I told her they were old, she picked them all up and carried them to the plastic recycling bin. I could tell she was disgusted.

The thing is, I don’t see myself as messy. In fact, being perpetually balanced as I am (as well as someone who refuses to be typed) I think I’m neither messy nor neat. My house is cleaned nearly spotless one day a week, and in the in-between times, it usually looks comfortably lived-in.

But I’ve wondered lately, am I just pulling the wool over my eyes? It’s true some days I don’t even brush my hair. (Teeth are another matter, as I can’t stand an unclean mouth.) I’m known to wear the same pair of jeans three, four, five days in a row. And the older I get, the less I seem to be able to muster the energy to hold it all together.


The New York Times article “Saying Yes to Mess” put forth the notion that messy people are creative people, and that instead of spending our time and money trying to de-clutter our lives, we should give in to disorder.

The article quotes Irwin Kula, author of Yearnings: Embracing the Sacred Messiness of Life:

Order can be profane and life-diminishing. It’s a flippant remark, but if you’ve never had a messy kitchen, you’ve probably never had a home-cooked meal. Real life is very messy, but we need to have models about how that messiness works.

Ever since I read the article — it came out in December of 2006 — I’ve wondered about mess.

Are people born messy? What makes one sibling organized and the next a clutterbug? And is it true that by constantly striving to de-clutter our lives, we’re stifling our individuality?


What are the messes in your life?

Your house? Your desk? Your love life? How about your gut or your emotions?

How do you feel about messiness? Do you run from drama or do you thrive on it?

The test of an adventure is that when you’re in the middle of it, you say to yourself, “Oh, now I’ve got myself into an awful mess; I wish I were sitting quietly at home.” And the sign that something’s wrong with you is when you sit quietly at home wishing you were out having lots of adventure.

~Thornton Wilder, The Matchmaker

Write about mess. Set your timer for 15 minutes and set your sights on prose or a series of haiku, dedicated just to mess.

Clutter the page with words, thoughts, details. Jumble it up. Get dirty. Create an eyesore. Make a shambles of it. Go.

*from Comprehensive Desk Dictionary, Thorndike Barnhart

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