The Order of Things
When I was a kid, I read copious numbers of books. I was and am again, a rather voracious reader. I ate through books like they were made of chocolate and when I was done I could chomp into it like a candy bar. I still have a picture in my mind of my mother asking why my books were scattered around on the bookshelf.
“These things aren’t organized at all. How do you know where anything is? This makes no sense.”
Well, ten year olds often make no sense, but in my mind this was not one of those occasions. “But mommy,” I said, “They ARE organized. The black ones are down there, then the blue ones, then the green ones…” etc.
I remember my mom standing over me and shaking her head. I didn’t understand what was wrong. It made perfect sense to me. Organizing by color just seemed like the way to go. Look how pretty! Dark colors to bright colors, how could anything be so well thought out?
Mom was unconvinced. “Okay. So find me a book.” She said, “Where’s The Wizard of Oz?” I found it quickly and beamed up at her like I had just stuck in my thumb and pulled out a plum. “Yeah,” she said, rolling her eyes, “I forgot you were just reading that one. You remember what the book looks like. How about another? How about a book you haven’t read yet on the shelf?” She scanned my bookcase, “How about that book on Norse mythology?”
My brows furrowed. I looked over the books, staring back at me like soldiers at attention. I gave up rather quickly. “I don’t know, mommy. I don’t know where it is.”
She softened and bent over toward me. “Of course you don’t know where it is. Your books aren’t organized so you know where things are. There’s an order of things, “boy name,” the way you organize books is called alphabetical order. Let me show you.”
That was a good lesson for me, especially given my general slacker attitudes. There is an order of things. Sometimes that order is all important. Never has that lesson been on display more than during the build up to this trip, still some four months out. This last week, a single thought started echoing in my head. If I don’t do everything I need to do in the correct order, I could be left holding the bag, metaphorically.
I realized, of course, if I tried to book my flight before I sent in my deposit to hold my surgery date, that date may not be there when I do send in my 20%. But if I book my time before I’ve passed my medical tests; that might blow up in my face as well. What if I fail one of the tests? It was clear that I needed to banish my “fly by the seat of my pants” attitude I usually have. I needed to organize. I needed to make a list. There is an order of things and I need to respect that. Having finally given in to the suffocating nature of “THE LIST”, I reluctantly started writing down numbers in front of the major hoops I need to jump through. Here it is:
1. Medical tests, the “I’m not crazy” letter, genital electrolysis
2. Send in my 20% deposit to nail down my surgery date.
3. Book the flight. Book the hotel. Book elephant tour?
4. Get my passport.
5. Prepare EVERYTHING.
It makes me nervous to have “passport” last, the whole thing could come crashing down if there’s a problem with the passport, but apparently, I need to have the exact departure and return dates before I can apply. My medical tests are scheduled for this Thursday. Hopefully my shrink letter will be able to be scheduled shortly after.
I remain paranoid and sleepless. When I do sleep, my dreams are chaotic and frantic. The theme lately seems to be small vignettes of absent-mindedness. Yes, Virginia, there is an order of things. No, it doesn’t make me feel better to write little numbers on paper.
I want a fast forward button and I want it now.