I don’t really know when I became a “neat freak” (to save my fingers I’m just going to type NF). Perhaps it was at a time that other areas of my life were not “neat”, or maybe it was just something that gradually evolved. All I know is that it brings a deep satisfaction to me if things are “neat”, ordered, organised, tidy, nicely structured, neat,neat,neat. My NFedness helps me when things are a bit out of control in other areas, it lets me find stress-relief through tidying the pantry, auditing the cupboards, straightening the bookshelf and just generally having a NF moment or two.
I know I didn’t inherit it from my MOAA (mother of advanced age), as my MOAA is a “Clean Freak”, or CF – (I love you Mum!). This is a woman who cleans all her windows each week, (I only do mine about once a year, and then under protest). Her house is always spotlessly clean because she vacuums, washes floors, sweeps, a lot, actually I think she does it twice a week, well all the time really, whereas I can go a whole fortnight without vacuuming or dusting, as long as I can stave off the “guilt”.
Guilt catches me when MOAA rings and I find myself not able to just sit down and have a conversation on the phone with her, NO, I have to sweep the house, dust and tidy whilst I do, (I’ve never told her I do this, so it may come as a bit of a surprise to her). I do feel this compulsion is extremely pavlovian in nature – phone rings = MOAA = must clean everything!
However, MOAA is not a NF, tidy – yes, CF – definitely, NF – no. Point of illustration: MOAA cupboards are little treasure troves of STUFF, a million jugs (I really do love you Mum), plates, bowls, glasses, etc, etc. (well, I guess she has had a lot of years to collect!), and I just can’t bear to look at her computer desk drawers because my hands start to itch like crazy with the need to ditch STUFF. In my house every cupboard is regularly cleaned out in a frenzy of NF mode, and just about anything that is not nailed down is likely to get tossed into the Op Shop bin. I really struggle sometimes, and I mean this literally and truthfully, to not throw out the furniture because I want to neaten things up! To pander to my NF angst, I have to re-arrange my furniture quite regularly, or else I just get really NF looney. I’ve always had this idea that there is a “right” place for things, so I just have to move everything until I find it.
Hanging the washing on the line is another NF test. Items must be strung on the line so that they fit nicely on each section – I know, I know – none of this hang a bit here, turn the line, hang another bit. If they don’t fit I have to re-arrange them until they do, very bad to have those gaps, gosh, the world might fall to it’s knees in shock! (At least I don’t colour code the pegs, yet!)
Groceries are another example, although this just may be commonsense, I stack them on the checkout counter in a certain way, so that when they get packed like items are together. I hate it when they just shove things in any which way, who taught these kids how to pack? No-one me thinks. When I get home I can’t have lunch or coffee until everything is put away, because NF demands that the kitchen bench be neat and clutter free.
Doors – the toilet doors must be shut at all times, loo lids down (this is because I read somewhere that it is good Feng Shui, and keeps money in your house), have to say it seems to be working. plus, it’s good for keeping the germs away. 🙂
Now, from reading all this you might think I have some OCD issues, but it is not so, it is just pure NF. As I have got older it has actually got much, much better. For example, I can now leave a small piece of paper on the floor and walk past it without having to “pick it up this instant”, there has been a wrench sitting on my cupboard (that I need to fix the treadmill), and it has been sitting there for 4 days, THIS IS A MAJOR BREAKTHROUGH. A few years ago, not only would I have fixed the treadmill immediately it had a problem, but I would have had to clean everything up, put everything away, etc, etc, before I could do anything else.
Funny thing is, I am a bit perplexed as to why my NF tendencies are abating. Will I turn into a shambolic slob, will my house be overrun with stuff, will some dormant hoarding gene engulf me with the urge to stockpile useless bits of paper, a dozen towels, or rubber frogs? It’s worrying times!
thanks for listening