I am looking at…

Today I began reading Natalie Goldberg’s books, Old Friend from Far Away, and Writing Down the Bones.  The first writing prompt in Old Friend is “I am looking at…”  My hand ached after writing for ten minutes because I rarely write on paper anymore, and I seem to have lost most ability to write legibly over the years, too.  I’m easily distracted on the computer, though, so I’ve decided to give paper a shot.  Here’s what spilled out…

I am looking at a basket of laundry. My basket is wicker, a smaller oval at its base than at its rim.  It’s full to overflowing with the laundry I washed this morning.  Its contents are organized the way I organize everything that comes from any sort of repetitive task I undertake.  First, at the bottom, my jeans and long-sleeved shirts.  They are the biggest items of clothing I wash (unless you count the towels) because I’m the biggest person in the house.  They fill most of the bottom of the basket, and I fill the leftover gap with socks and underwear – socks that are folded together in a ball, and underwear that’s just tossed randomly into a pile.  Small things that can settle into the space and fill it just right so I can place my next layer of clothes on top.  Next come my t-shirts and my partner’s clothes, which fold up so much smaller than mine do.  I arrange these things to fit neatly, as though each stack of clothes is a piece of a jigsaw puzzle.  Pants here, long-sleeved shirts there, short-sleeve shirts somewhere else.  The top layers are consistent, too.  My partner’s socks and underwear – they have to be folded, unlike mine which I just toss in my drawer.  I stack these near the top because if I bury them, they’d get messed up and I’d have to refold them when I get to putting things away.  Finally, the kid’s clothes and bathroom towels go on top because these have to be put away in different rooms.  When I mount the stairs, I will first put away the kid’s clothes, then the towels, then head into our bedroom.  This order makes sense because the basket will stay in my bedroom.  I start furthest away and hit all three places in a perfect order.  I only have to open each drawer once because I’ve organized the piles as I folded them – all like things together.  All this for efficiency.  I’m obsessed with efficiency.  It’s something I do because I can’t help myself.  I plan the most efficient path through the house, trying to combine tasks logically as I go.  I refine my steps as I repeat things.

The exercise was more fun than I thought it’d be, though I cut myself off after ten minutes because of my aching fingers.  A simple glance at my laundry basket, and I found myself writing about my semi-OCD tendencies.  The quality of the writing isn’t important to me – I’m just working on getting in the habit of writing about random things since I’m giving my memoir a bit of a break.  The interesting part of it is that I can see including a bit about my OCD self in my memoir – it’s an element I didn’t touch on, and one that I could generate some humor with.  Mission accomplished for the moment…

One thought on “I am looking at…

  1. Pingback: Category obsessions | east.bay.writer

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