From as far back as I can remember I have been a neat freak. An OCD cleaner. A type-A organizer. I am attracted to order, and I love to clean.
When I was a kid my favorite book was the Berenstain Bears, "Clean Room," where the twins organize their room by categorizing all of their toys in labeled boxes neatly stacked in the closest. I loved staring at the illustration of their clean room with the open closet door showing their catalogued boxes. I tried to systematize my room the same way, but it turns out real life hobbies and toys don't necessarily fit into shoeboxes.
Based on how anal-retentive I was I should’ve loved the book "Little Miss Neat" too, but I didn’t, because it was clearly written by someone who was not neat, but was rather wasteful and inefficient. The whole story is about how one morning little Miss Neat sees a puddle in her walkway, cleans it with a rag, washes, dries and irons the rag, then folds it and puts it away. This book knows nothing about multi-tasking! She wastes all that time cleaning one thing! A true little Miss Neat would find other things to dust or mop up, making a full load of used-rag laundry and maximizing her usefulness. What a waste of a day, little Miss Neat! I was depressed for her at the end of that book, and on the lookout for the sequel, "Little Miss Suicide."
I once told my dad I wanted to be a maid when I grew up, and he scoffed, "you don't want to be a maid!” In his mind that was a lowly foreigner's job. But I did want to be one because, when I cleaned, I controlled the outcome. Things were in order, and I had made them that way.
One day while my mother was partaking in her afternoon hobby of napping off a hangover, I dusted our living room and added an extra finishing touch by spreading my Berenstain Bears books out on the coffee table in a fan shape. When my mother emerged from her haze she promptly piled up my books and told me to put them away in my room, replacing them with her coaster and ashtray... I had tried. For a few brief hours my living room looked like a pediatrician’s waiting room instead of a dive bar.
I tried to be messy once. One of my favorite movies was "Parent Trap Part 2." Nikki, Hayley Mill's daughter, had a messy room. Her boom box rested on her bed near her pillow, instead of on an end table or bed-frame shelf. Her clothes went on and came off of the floor, and she couldn't find her other blue sneaker. I liked this chick. She was teaching me how to not care, how to be young. So I tried to mess up my room like hers. I tried leaving my clothes on the floor and not making my bed... but my messy room didn't look like hers. It looked like a young girl with OCD's room who was trying to care less. It looked dishonest. It just wasn't true to who I was. I was anal retentive.
So, I embraced it. I leaned into this character. I became the Type-A-i-est. So much so that I'd clean my friend's apartments for fun and put decluttering videos on how YouTube. To thine own self be true. It is true that I am a neat freak.