Opinion: It’s impossible to contain your organizing instincts

Posted Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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A catalog from the Container Store came recently and it contained alarming news: Our containers now need containers. Just when you thought the container craze was waning, it spawns a second generation.

You know those little individual coffee containers that you put in those specialty coffeemakers? It used to be people put them in a metal rack next to the coffeemaker. Now there’s a big container to hold the little containers before they go public and move to the rack. Heaven forbid they should simply sit quietly in the box they came in.

Any woman will tell you that containers are like candles, highly infectious. You weren’t thinking about candles, you don’t really need candles, you don’t even like scented candles, but the minute you get a whiff of ocean breeze and pumpkin spice — wham! — you need candles. Come to think of it, you probably need a container for your candles.

The stores that sell containers and tubs promising to organize your life, keep your sweaters stacked, your shirts on hangers and your shoes lined up according to color, have an intoxicating power. Case in point: Only minutes ago I was happy with our junk drawer, the cabinet under the bathroom sink and that space in the garage where we keep the trowel and weed digger. But now, after looking at myriad container solutions, I suddenly have an insatiable need for wooden drawer dividers, mesh containers, and monogrammed canvas bins.

Yesterday, I was happy storing pasta in the box it came in, but today I saw pasta neatly displayed in clear acrylic containers with specially patented locking lids. They had me at locking lids. You never know when your rigatoni and bow ties may plan a middle-of-the night escape.

What’s more, I suddenly find myself needing bamboo wood dividers for my sock drawer. Who knows how I’ve gotten dressed all these years without them?

Shelving may be the most powerful lure of all. Personally, I blame our lack of a floor-to-ceiling shelving unit for standing between me and the Time magazine Person of the Year award.

Then again, it is possible that there is a downside to all this organization. Once you put compartments and dividers in your junk drawer, it ceases to be a junk drawer. Sure, it may look nice, but what are you going to call it?

Consider that the chaos of your kitchen utensil drawer may be keeping your brain sharp. Rifling through that tangled mess for a vegetable peeler is like solving the hidden pictures puzzles you did as a kid.

If you can’t get dressed without having your socks rolled and organized by color, you have problems far bigger than your bare feet.

And ask yourself this: Do you really need one more under-the-bed plastic storage box? If you fill up all that space under the bed, where is the boogeyman going to hide? I know, I know, probably on a shelf in the garage.

At the risk of being practical, instead of storing all that junk, why not get rid of it? There’s a container for that, too. I believe it’s called a trash can.

Lori Borgman is the author of “My Memory Is Shot, All I Retain Now Is Water.” Contact her at loriloriborgman.com.

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