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MS. FINICKY REUNITES WITH MR. CLEAN

The day after Thanksgiving has always been a favorite day of mine to work. I see it as a great opportunity to spend at least part of the day tossing, sorting, recycling, filing, catching up on mail and anything else I need to do to restore order to my desk.

Which, for the most part, is generally organized most of the year.

Still, there is always dated material to toss, borrowed materials to return, and stories to plan and set up for the busy month of December.

Yes, I like working today -- this day after Thanksgiving. I think I have always worked it, even in years when we have had a house full of people the day before.

In the past, I have even been known to bring in a small assortment of cleaning supplies. While many of you are out holiday shopping with family members today, I may very well be sharing some quality time here with Mr. Clean.

I like doing this because -- as anyone who knows me can attest -- I crave order. I don't always feel as though I have it, but I crave it.

At work. And at home.

I find it maddening to open a cabinet door in the kitchen and have plastic storage lids spill out (obviously, someone else emptied the dishwasher). I like the labels of canned goods facing out so I can read them. I have a natural tendency to hang things chromatically in my closet -- following a dark-to-light spectrum.

I admit it. In a chaotic world, I crave order.

Why put the kidney beans away in the cupboard with the label turned toward the back when it takes the same amount of time to put it away with the label facing toward the front?

Furthermore, it's a great feeling for me to wake up on a day I know is going to be especially hectic and know that my tote is packed and ready to go by the back door.

It is comforting to know my gas tank is relatively full; my daughter's backpack and school clothes were laid out the night before, and there's a fresh quart of milk in the refrigerator for cereal.

It's a particular bonus if the dishwasher is empty.

In fact, I know people who set the breakfast table the night before -- birds of a feather flock together? -- an idea I think is great.

Unfortunately, in our house that wouldn't work. I would come downstairs at the crack of dawn and find one of the cats curled up in the cereal bowl.

Ick.

Go ahead and laugh at me. I like to put all my paper money facing the same way in my wallet. I like to group books by author or topic. I like to fold the bath towels and stack them as neatly as people at the Gap stack their merchandise.

And I love, simply love, an orderly garage -- something I know is difficult to maintain.

My theory on all this is simple: Order -- and organization, in general -- gives you more time for other things. Work. Play. Life.

But while I'll admit that I crave order, I'll also admit that I sometimes pull a total 180 and blow it.

I have misplaced my cell phone and found it days later crammed between the car seats (after having checked the car 49 times). I have left credit cards behind at stores. Once, when I was in college, I wore one black shoe and one navy shoe to an 8 a.m. class.

Guess my shoes were not neatly lined up -- in order -- as I like to keep them now.

So, as I said, while I crave order I do not always have it (did I mention I haven't filed a family photograph in something like two years?)

See, I'm not so weird. The bottom line: Yes, I crave order. But some days I simply crave chocolate.
e-mail: smartin@buffnews.com

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