how to not organize anything in 5 easy steps

Look at your apartment.  Do the dishes in your sink house a small ecosystem? Does your nightstand harbor more than one abandoned carton of greek yogurt? Is there a pair of jeans left in the middle of the floor from where you just stepped out of them? If the answer is yes, yes, and yes, sit tight. After careful research, our team has all the answers on how to effectively not organize your life.

STEP 1: PREGAME YOUR CLEAN
Stare at your mess. Stare at the clock. Assess how long it will take you to clean. Can you fit an episode of Scandal in before you start cleaning? Decide yes. Will drinking a small glass of wine during Scandal make cleaning more fun? Also decide yes. Watch three episodes of Scandal instead of one, drink half a bottle of wine, get mildly drunk.

STEP 2: DEAL WITH YOUR DENIM
Pick your pants up off the living room floor. DO NOT put your jeans back on—I repeat, DO NOT jail your legs in that denim prison once again. Instead, carefully place jeans in a clothes hamper. Tell yourself you will have these washed for your date on Saturday, do not actually wash jeans, put them on in a last-minute rush, and hope your date does not notice the pizza stain on your thigh.

STEP 3: APPROACH MOUNTAIN OF DISHES
Load dishes in dishwasher and actually wash a load of dishes. Examine remaining dishes in sink. Can you finish the dishes in another load in the dishwasher, or should you wash them all by hand? This is a trick question; why would you wash dishes by hand? To be effective? As if. Subsequently forget to unload clean load of dishes and leave stray dishes in the sink.

STEP 4: ORGANIZE YOUR CRAP
Pinterest is great for first-class organizing tips from the professionals of the organized world, AKA 30-year-old, stay-at-home moms. Surf Pinterest. Pin your wedding. Remember why you got on Pinterest. Notice cute organizational boxes with labels. Buy a label maker on Amazon. Wait two days. Receive label maker. Carefully label your clear, plastic storage containers with the names of specific objects to organize. Never get around to organizing objects and dump them all in the container marked “Miscellaneous.”

STEP 5: DON’T START BY MAKING THE BED
When cleaning the bedroom, some people will tell you to start with making the bed. I say why not start by using the bed? Take a short nap. When you wake up, make the bed, pick up all your stray clothes, clear off your nightstand, vacuum the carpet, light a few candles, and then invite one (or both!) of the Hemsworth brothers in to your bedroom for a tour and light appetizers. Then actually wake up from your nap, realize your bedroom is still a mess and it was all a dream. Go back to sleep.

21st century poetry: ode to my four iPods

I
O, iPod Touch, in your cracked, blistered beauty,
canst I still see some faint glow
of Fall Out Boy, All American Rejects, or other three-word-bands
I thought were cool?

Nay, for you lasted but one summer in my hand
before your memory was tainted with Slipknot.
But it was better to give you to the music-less boyfriend
than to listen to him PMS.

II
O, iPod Nano, you are a resilient machine,
capable of withstanding being both tossed and tumble-dried on low
in the dark bowels of the stackable washer/dryer.
Your playlists played on.

Alas, our love was not to be.
For though I graciously lent you for more Decemberists,
you also returned with 400 John Denver songs.
Ain’t nobody got time for that.

III
O, iPod Classic, you Great and Terrible black beauty…
Where the hell did I put you?

IV
O, iPhone, machine of Candy Crush, Facebook, and parental phone calls,
I have no time to transfer my vast library into your core,
and so you are doomed to only hold that one Ke$ha album.
But what else do I need, anyway?

mini-story: the plumber

This comes from a conversation I overheard. Apparently, the man’s daughter was bringing her boyfriend over for dinner. The boyfriend was supposedly a plumber, but the man was sure the boyfriend was lying about being a plumber, which begs the question–why lie about being a plumber? Life. It’s weird.

THE PLUMBER

Mr. Dwyer cut across his steak, staring at his daughter’s new boyfriend. Breaking a silence of clattering knives and muffled mouthfuls, Mr. Dwyer mumbled, “So, Devon. Alexis tells me you’re a plumber.”

“Oh,” Alexis said, turning towards Devon and placing a hand on his shoulder. “Um—“

Devon patted her hand. “Well, by ‘plumber’ I mean ‘performance artist,’ Mr. Dwyer. You see, I’m not a plumber by trade, but I believe my art unclogs the dark, hardened crap in people’s souls. ”

“Isn’t that lovely?” Mrs. Dwyer beamed.

Mr. Dwyer frowned. “So you’re not a plumber?”

“Not a plumber.”

“Hmph.” Mr. Dwyer returned to his steak. “Well, which church services will you be presiding over this Easter?”

Devon cupped his ear. “Sorry?”

“Easter services, boy. Sunrise, 10 o’clock…Alexis mentioned you were a spiritual leader.”

“Oh, by ‘spiritual leader’ I mean ‘ghost hunter.’ I lead spirits to the other side.”

“He’s the best, Dad,” Alexis said. “He’s expecting a TV deal any day now.”

“Hmph. How many ghosts have you caught?”

“Well, none yet. The ghost…well, it is a tricky beast, sir.”

“Yes, I’d imagine,” Mrs. Dwyer agreed.

Mr. Dwyer frowned. “I don’t suppose you mountain climb for sport either.”

“Well, by ‘mountain climb’ I mean ‘climb the mountain of trash our country throws away instead of recycles.’ Just last week I found an iPhone. It doesn’t work, but hollow that sucker out and you get an ashtray for Alexis, a planter…”

“Ashtray?!” Mr. Dwyer roared. “You’re smoking?”

“No,” Alexis quickly said. “And by ‘no’ I mean, ‘only when Devon gets me super-drunk’—“

“WHAT! Now, see here—!“

The table lurched under a vortex of angry shouts as Mr. Dwyer, Devon, and Alexis leapt to their feet. They screamed, they cursed, they threw some of Mrs. Dwyer’s famed garlic mashed potatoes—and that’s when Mrs. Dwyer decided to act.

“STOP!” Mrs. Dwyer screeched above the fight. The storm quieted to a dull roar and all three forces of nature turned to Mrs. Dwyer. “Darling,” she said to Mr. Dwyer, “she’s experimenting. She’s learning who she is. Don’t be so hard on her.” Mr. Dwyer stared at the linoleum, mumbling under his breath.

“And, Alexis,” Mrs. Dwyer continued, “it’s easy to forget, but we understand being young, in love, and having fun. Your father liked to have fun, too. Before I got pregnant we snuck around, danced, rode your father’s motorcycle…”

Alexis sighed. “I guess…Dad had a motorcycle?”

“Well, by ‘your father,’ I mean ‘the plumber.’”

mini-stories: romantic and horror

Mini-Stories: (n.) from the Latin minius storius

  1. A story comprised of 500 words or less.
  2. A story that may or may not make any sense.
  3. A story to be written in complete freetime while Netflix is down and apartment is out of Cheetos.

Without any further introduction, here are two mini-stories for your entertainment and delight while I go watch another episode of Sister Wives on the Netflix.

Gate 12: A Romantic Mini-Story

He was about to board a plane with a lone ticket to Bali. Suddenly, she was there, standing in the shadow of Gate 12. They locked eyes for one brief moment. He tensed; had she come to break his heart yet again? Before he can turn away, she throws herself at him, desperately clinging to his jacket. His arms instinctively reached out to catch her as she looked up into his face. “Roger,” she breathed, her blonde hair gently blowing from the breezeway of Gate 12. “I love you. I think I’ve always loved you. Let’s forget everything. I’ll leave my husband, and we’ll go to Bali together, just as we planned. Just you and me.”

Tears filled Roger’s eyes—but they were not the tears of love. They were the tears of indigestion. It must have been those airport tacos he had for lunch. The meat had looked a little green. He held up one finger to his love as he turned away to belch.

“Ughhhh, that’s better,” Roger sighed. “Where was I? Oh, yes.” He turned back to his love, gently cupping her chin to stare into her deep blue eyes. “Oh, Karen, I lo—“

Then Roger spontaneously combusted, and part of his small intestine smacked Karen in the face.

Don’t eat airport tacos.

101 Reasons to Leave: A Horror Mini-Story

I heaved the last box from the bedroom off the floor, glancing out the window.  Anita was standing by the car, taking one last look up at our home. She was so happy to leave. But was I?

I closed the door to the bedroom and stepped into the hallway.

THUD.

It sounded like footsteps from the attic.

THUD.

But we had never used the attic.

THUDTHUDTHUDTHUDTHUD.

Suddenly, the doors on either side of the hallway opened, flapping wildly. An eerie scream echoed down the hallway. The wallpaper peeled as the shriek circled around me. Dark blood began bubbling up from the hardwood, seeping into my shoes. A figure began to materialize. Its face was completely shred—only two hollow eyesockets remained and three maggots crawled from its rotting mouth.

“Gettttttt outtttttt,” the spirit hissed.

“That’s what I’m doing!” I said, pointing to the box.

The ghost paused. “Oh. Cool.  Hey, hope I didn’t freak you out too bad these past few months.”

I shrugged. “Honestly, we were a little preoccupied. Didn’t notice. We’re just moving ‘cause we found some cheap real estate in the country.”

“Oh, yeah? Good for you, man.”

“Yeah, we got stuck with 101 Dalmatians and now the wife won’t give ‘em up. Wants a Dalmatian Plantation, which I admit I suggested when I was drunk. Wrote a whole song for it. Sucks, but ya know hos.”

The ghost nodded sympathetically. “Yeah. Hos.”

I pointed downward. “Also, you’re paying for these shoes.”

words come cheap

My feeble attempt at being productive today began (and ended) with writing out my graduation announcements. I have 25 announcements (made on the adorable Minted.com), and on each one I’ve been trying to write a personal note of appreciation for all the recipient has done for me. As a first-generation college student, the odds were against me ever reaching this day: 89% of low-income, first-generation college students leave college without a degree. If I didn’t have the support of my family and friends, I could have easily been part of that statistic. I could never have gotten through college without every dollar they helped me find, every book they stopped me from throwing, every message they ever left on my phone, and every late night trip to Denny’s. I graduate in a month, and the only way I can show my appreciation to the ones I care about most is scribbling words on the back of a graduation announcement. To me, those words seemed worthless next to the hours and money those closest to me poured into my education and my life, but, after spending three dollars, my entire opinion on the matter has changed.

While I was half-writing my announcements and half-watching Pretty Woman, someone knocked on my door. Generally, no one knocks at my apartment; my friends walk in like they own the place and the Amazon guy likes to play ding-dong-ditch-my-second-season-of-Modern-Family-where-any-person-could-steal-it-and-run. Curiosity won over my desire to watch 80’s Richard Gere ride a horseand I put away the announcements to answer the door.

A man, probably around 25, stood in the doorway with a stack of papers and a friendly smile. He greeted me and said he was raising money for a trip. To be honest, I started to tune him out right then–I don’t even remember where he said he was going. Like everyone else, I have money and trips of my own to worry about. I started to make my general excuse (“You know us college kids, we never carry any cash. Oh, our postmodern condition!”) when he finished with,

“I’m selling these poems for three dollars a piece. I wrote them myself, and you can choose which poem you’d like. That’s all I’ve got.”

I paused and looked at the papers in his hands. Sure enough, there were lines of poetry typed across every brightly colored sheet of paper, each with a beautiful background image that correlated to the poem. I couldn’t help but think about the first poem I ever wrote in college, “Freight.” It was published in a magazine, and I didn’t accept any payment for it–but if I had sold it, how much would I have asked for? Ironically, “Freight” was written as a way for me to express my fear of losing my connections from home, my family, and my relationship–the very people I was just writing to thank for staying by me all these years. That poem meant so much to me personally. Could I have charged only three dollars for it?

I smiled at the man and said, “I’m sure I’ve got three bucks somewhere.” Call it divine providence, but my change from Starbucks (the only cash I had–oh, our postmodern condition!) had amounted to exactly $3.17. I paid for a poem with a lighthouse on the front entitled, “A Found Soul Mate.” Sure, the poem isn’t exactly Shakespeare–there are near rhymes used throughout, the meter is off, and some lines just don’t work–but despite its flaws, it’s beautiful.

In Sunday School, we’re taught, “In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” When I was younger, my dad would tell me this verse to teach me the value of words (which, I mean, I obviously listened to since I’ve made a career out of words). Words are everything we ever feel, want, miss, love, need, and dream about; words are humanity’s currency. After all, what’s three dollars next to, “I miss you,” “I believe in you,” or “I love you”?

I may not be able to pay everyone back financially for everything they’ve helped me with these last four years, and I might not ever have the money to do that. Still, I can give them words to let them know how much they mean to me and how much my education–which so few first-generation students ever receive–is worth. Words may come cheap, but the right words are worth so much more than three dollars. The right words can be worth the world.

-V.S.

Image