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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Jesse's side of the closet: A journey into my husband's mind

This past weekend, I decided it was time to make sense of our closet. It is enormous -- I mean almost as big as a bedroom enormous -- and we never really organized it properly after we moved in. Now it's been six months and it's just a damn big mess.

It took me all of an hour and a half to tidy up my side of things and put a bunch of Halloween costumes and other random crap into plastic bins. Then, it was time to work on Jesse's side. You see, Jesse has been out of town and I wanted to get through his side without him there, because I'm sure he'd be looking over my shoulder complaining, criticizing, and generally getting in my way (and in answer to the question of "why doesn't he just do it himself?" the answer is both "ha!" and "then I'd be over his shoulder complaining, criticizing, and generally getting in his way too" so you see that just wouldn't work at all). 

This task required absolute concentration. (I waited until he was back home to tell you he was gone because I didn't want you thinking you could break into my house in the middle of the night and drink my chocolate milk just because Jesse wasn't there to shoot you. I am there to shoot you. It's MY chocolate milk!)

Here are a few noteworthy observations and challenges I faced over the course of this little adventure:

Total dresser anarchy

I keep my clothing organized. Every drawer I have houses clothing that can be put into the same category, whether it be "pants", "workout stuff", or "short-sleeved shirts." Within those drawers, I even try to put same-colored items close together for ease in finding them later. I consider this to be pretty standard behavior.

Jesse's dresser? Madness

I had to organize the dresser first, because it was absolutely surrounded by loose clothing and there was no way of knowing what should/could go into the dresser until I had figured out his system of organizing what goes into which drawers.

And it turns out that there is no system.

The top row has two small drawers next to each other, which I assumed would be divided between socks and underwear, because duh. 

Nope. In each drawer I found a selection of socks, exercise shorts, and regular-old non-underwear t-shirts. In many cases, the socks were not matched, but were rather split between the drawers, with one sock in each. Because, you know ... convenience. I can understand dividing socks up by type -- perhaps having work socks in one drawer and exercise socks in another. But having right socks in one drawer and left socks in another? That is insane.

In further drawers, my odyssey into my husband's mind became more and more confusing and interesting. There were shirts I knew he had been missing, jammed into the back of what seemed like a pants drawer except that it was actually 50% pants and 50% other stuff (but since 50% any one thing was about as good as we were going to get in this dresser, it was determined to be a pants drawer). There were gloves. So many gloves. So many single, unmatched gloves. I eventually found most of their mates -- in different drawers, naturally. One of them I found inside a sweatshirt in the pants drawer. I don't know.

The decision of what to hang up versus what to put in the dresser

Jesse is notoriously bad about putting his clothes away after they're washed and folded. Now that I've seen the chaos that is the inside of his dresser, I understand his trepidation. Nobody has the kind of time it would take to find anything in there. It would take him hours to get ready to leave the house for any reason, and even then he'd probably only be wearing one glove.

The result of this is that his side of the closet features an endless variety of t-shirts on hangers. Why? Why do t-shirts need to be on hangers? I generally hang up things that either take up a lot of space or will wrinkle in drawers -- and t-shirts do not fit the bill. 

Jesse hangs up things he'd like to be able to find later. If that means jeans and t-shirts get hangers while everything else he owns -- things like collared button-down shirts and dress pants -- is strewn about the floor, then so be it. Should he be seeing a therapist or something? Are these all warning signs of a man on the brink of coming unglued??

The Army stuff, my god, the Army stuff

One of the results of being in the military for many years is that you acquire a whole hell of a lot of military-issued stuff. Necessary stuff, unnecessary stuff, totally useless stuff that you will suddenly desperately need RIGHT NOW AND OH MY GOD WHERE IS MY PT BELT AND I CAN'T FIND MY OTHER WHITE SOCK CAN I BORROW ONE OF YOUR SOCKS THIS IS AN EMERGENCY ... lots of stuff. And if you're Jesse, then that stuff will never really be kept in one central convenient location. Because ... okay, he can't even get right and left socks into the same drawer. Lower your expectations.

One of the most daunting parts of organizing this closet is figuring out the Army stuff, and what needs to go into bins for occasional use versus what needs to stay out and easily accessible. I take my role as wife seriously, and part of that role is always knowing the location of everything my husband owns. When he suddenly needed his beret and couldn't find it, was it him that remembered seeing it in the corner of the closet stuffed with a wig, some garbage, and a pair of novelty 2011 spectacles? No, of course not. It was me.

So the Army stuff is everywhere, and it needs to not be everywhere. But Jesse needs to be able to find things when he needs them, preferably not by dumping out the contents of three enormous duffel bags all over our bedroom ("That Kevlar helmet has GOT to be in one of these bags!!!"). 

(No Jesse; the Kevlar helmet is in the living room under the snake tank with an MRE and a bottle of Elmer's white glue in it. This is our home. This is how we live.)

Keeping the chaos from returning

The real fear I have is that I'll do all this work to reorganize things, but it will just go right back to chaos once Jesse gets his hands back on it. How to avoid this? A few ideas:

- Label the drawers of the dresser. Example: Pants. This drawer is only for pants. Is that a shirt you're holding? Then it doesn't go in this drawer. I don't care if the shirts drawer is full. Maybe that means you have too many shirts and should go through them and put a few into the Goodwill bin. I mean seriously, how many shirts does a man need? Especially a man who wears a uniform to work every day??! Good grief. It's like I live with Kim Kardashian.

- Put his clothes away for him. This is not the ideal solution, but I may not have a choice. I already wash and fold the laundry (Jesse was banned from washing anything other than his own uniforms because he always runs the washer half-empty and wastes water while leaving the laundry bin full. He was banned from folding laundry after I watched him spend a full minute trying to fold a thong. Plus he folds shirts all weird). Is it really such a big step to also put his clothes away in their proper locations? It would probably take an extra thirty seconds at most, and soon I'll be washing and putting away baby's clothes anyway. I might as well just become the Family Laundry Fairy.

Learning to accept the inevitable

I knew Jesse was a disorganized mess before I married him. I knew how he likes to leave his shoes everywhere, and how clean laundry never gets put away properly, and how drawers get filled to bursting and then are never opened again because the shirts are all stuck so the drawer is a pain to open and close so eff it, might as well just write off everything in there. 

I may just have to deal with a messy closet forever. But at least I've got a happy life with a man I love, a lovely home, an awesome family and a baby on the way. I don't have much to complain about, really.

Oh f**k it. I'm just going to start putting his clothes away for him. Because if I trip over one more shoe, I swear I'm just going to f**king kill someone.


  1. I did a bunch of spring cleaning yesterday and reading this just now was FANTASTIC!
    Where did I find a grocery bag full of listerine, shampoo, change and avalanche gear? Bottom of the nightstand, on top of a blank leather notebook. I hear you on all of the "where is that." Then I get blamed for "hiding things." Yes, because I would put your avy evaluator card there... not in your snowpants or ski backpack. no big deal.

    1. Hahaha Jesse and I have a lot of the same clothes from our running club, but mine are always several sizes smaller than his. I cannot tell you how many times he as accused me of stealing his stuff, because of course his has gone missing and someone needs to take the blame ...