Thursday, February 3, 2011

Packing; more commonly known as "death by crocodiles"

I am not organized. It's true. I have a few theories about the whole thing, and none of them are pretty.

Somehow, as a result of my parent's union, all four of us Griffin children are laughably messy and appallingly disorganized (although I have heard from several sources that Erin and Leif have changed their ways). This makes even less sense when looking at our pedigree. My dad, a pediatrician and health administrator, always has his shit together. He is the one we approach about anything related to red tape, finance, insurance, bureaucratic nightmares, and basically anything practical. I think he has gotten me out of every single stupid mess that I have gotten myself into, that has to do with money or calling millions of people about my health insurance. His brain definitely functions in a very math-friendly and practical way and he is an excellent problem-solver. My mother is simply the most organized person I have ever met. There is nothing in our apartment that is out of place. She sorts mail, makes piles, compiles lists, has assigned places for everything, and cleans before the cleaning ladies come. She also is a pediatrician, which in itself, requires a high capability of organization and rationality. She has also gotten me out of numerous messes; situations in which I somehow constructed pure chaos from order.

Maybe having kids involves creating a balance, and thus my siblings and I had to make up for our parent's togetherness by being four little black holes of disorder, sucking up all of the cleanliness around us. My sister's bedroom in her teenage years was legendary. Whenever I snuck in there, I found a milieu of treasure, and pretended that I was in a jungle as I traversed a floor littered with spilled make up, school tests, shoes, and magazines. This is not to belittle Erin's current state, because she is now a lot cleaner and better organized. I can attest to that from seeing her place in Amsterdam. Neil has the completely unique ability to completely destroy any room he stays in, within the first 10 minutes. Sometimes he packs everything in ripped paper bags. I have been known to do this too. My brother Leif has improved greatly since living with his girlfriend Kat, but has similar habits to me. We all lived in near squalor during our time in Madison, which left our visiting relatives politely refusing to come inside our apartments. Several of us made beds out of mattresses that we put on the floor. The bed that I slept on for most of college, I had found on a curbside during Madison's "hippy Christmas". Speaking of beds, my mom just recently told me that she was going to teach me how to make a bed before I left for Peace Corps. (I can totally make a bed. It just looks terrible).

This is all just a circuitous way to explain why my life is shambles right now. I have brought an inordinate amount of disorder to my parent's lives over the past few months, as I did to my various roommates over the years. My bedroom is always shut-off, and we skip over it when giving people tours of our house. I think it could probably give someone a seizure or maybe an epiphany, if shown in the right context.

Anyway. Packing has been fun. My mom basically hired one of her best friends to come help me once a week. Fortunately, I happen to adore her, and it's a lot of fun to have her over, but our time together has mostly consisted of her cracking the whip and forcing me into action. " more dilly-dallying!" "Ilsers...what are you doing right now? You are supposed to be sorting these clothes!" These are all common lines heard around my room on the days that she comes over. Honestly though, it has made all the difference. My room, for the first time in years, has a semblance of order and I actually have one suitcase packed.

Knowing my work ethic and organizational ability, I started the process of packing an entire month before my departure date. And, I'm still not done. Planning ahead is completely necessary for someone like me. I'm the kind of person who LOVES to talk about packing and what I should pack and how packing is going, but then never actually does it. Packing for two years for a third-world country is definitely a few steps above anything I have ever had to do, so it's been a big stresser recently.

This all leaves me remembering the night before I left for my semester in Rome, Italy. My friend Kristin came over, took one look at my progress, and then immediately took over. "7 pairs of shoes? What were you thinking? This is not happening."

Please cross your fingers that I lock it up this weekend.


  1. HAHAHA. I love that you go into detail about the origin of your life in shambles-ness. I wish I was there to help you...although I am assuming this time around you are not trying to bring seven pairs of heels to Africa.

    But if you are...take them out immediately.

  2. Really well written, Ils!! Pretty much sums it all up!! Can't wait to see what progress you have made when I come over later!

  3. Ilsers, I understand the throes of packing completely. The week I was home before coming to Korea was a constant battle between my mother and me. "Rach, clean your room", "Rach, put your childhood in these boxes and they'll go into the basement", "Rach, your plane leaves in 6 hours, are you packed". Packing is miserable and I wish I was there to help!

    I wish you all the best! I can't wait to read more of your adventures!

  4. I think Beppo has more organizational standards than my non-furry kids. At least he keeps his stuffed monkey on his chair. Mumsy

  5. I am sleeping on a mattress. I think that you've given me a little bit of yourself.