ITURNED IN MY THESIS 45 minutes late. The only reason it wasn't later was that I had access to The Crimson's 17-pages-per-minute printer and, after more than three years of servitude to the place, a complete lack of compunction about abusing organizational resources. Some of the blame can be attributed to the slowness of my Macintosh Classic, the pagination quirks of Microsoft Word and the incompatibility between my printer and my Powerbook 520c. But, as the Government Senior Honors Thesis Handbook so cheerily informs the reader, this is why thesisers are advised to start their printing the night before. I knew that. But I failed to do so. Why? For the umpteenth time in my life, I simply didn't have my act together.
This is not a new phenomenon. With my 22nd birthday a few months away, I have come to the realization that I will never be a "together" person. I will always be disorganized, disheveled, somewhat confused. But I'm not alone. I have also concluded that the world consists of two types of people: the "together" people, and the "non-together" people. While some people may be more of the extreme than others, everyone falls into one category or the other.
In case all of you were wondering, or wanted a clearer definition than the one I just gave, here is a list of qualities that distinguish together people from their harried brethren:
1. Punctuality: Together people are on time. They get the exact seats they want for lectures. They never run after the shuttle bus unless it's leaving early. They get to section before seven minutes after the hour. They arrive early for lunch dates with friends and even manage to snag tables in crowded dining halls. They finish and hand in things on time, such as, oh, theses. Extensions are more trouble than they're worth to these people.
I've always wanted to be on time. The single most amazing achievement of my life is my high school tardy record of less than one percent--but that was motivated by a desire to avoid the consequences (myriad and nasty). We organizationally challenged people are used to sitting on the floor in lecture halls and apologizing for being late. When I was little, I used to run everywhere because I had enough excess energy to power New York for a week. Now I run everywhere because I'm chronically behind schedule. Somehow, everything seems to take longer than expected--showers, papers, Internet sessions...
Together people don't set their clocks ahead of the correct time and then try to forget about it. Non-together people do this. Extremely non-together people--me, for example--set their clocks waaay ahead (45 minutes or so) and then spend their lives automatically deducting the extra minutes in their time calculations.
2. Written Organization: Together people know what they need and when they need it. After arriving on time to section, they pull out precisely the books they need, plus a couple of last week's books in case the TF decides to do a little contrast and comparison. They know where the midterm from their first-year Foreign Cultures Core class is filed away, and can produce it for future generations. They do not forget appointments.
This is because together people write things down. In permanent places. Sometimes just in notebooks or the like, but no together person would be without their personal planner/calendar/daybook. Ask them if they want to have lunch on Thursday and they pull it out. "No, sorry, I'm already eating with my prospective employer on that day." (Together people start job hunts early.) Together people definitely do not go the route of writing reminders on their hands, as certain people, such as me, are wont to do. This causes some problems, as I do have enough functioning brain power to take showers and wash my hands on a regular basis. But at least I write things down somewhere--many non-together people forsake even temporary reminders.
Thus together people tend to be calm, lacking the constant panic that arises from the fear of forgetting something important. Non-together people can never really relax; they're constantly fretting that a task has been left undone or a person left uncalled. This may be good for the metabolism, but not for the sanity.
3. Neatness: Going hand in hand with organization, together people are tidy. They regularly clean out their backpacks (i.e. more than once a semester). Their rooms seem to have an inherent order, which can be marred but never seriously disrupted. Recycling bins receive their newspapers, bottles, etc. on a twice-weekly basis. Occasionally they throw out a piece of paper they may unexpectedly need later, but together people remember where to go to get a copy.
I've always wanted to be this way. Unfortunately, my role as the living embodiment of the chaos theory has hampered my efforts. One wades through my room. Even when it's clean, it looks like a messy room that's been temporarily straightened up. Disorder follows me wherever I go--it took hours to clean out my office at The Crimson when I finally handed over the presidency. Andrew, the new president, has apparently learned his lesson; the office is now spartan but orderly. In my opinion, Andrew is pretty damn together, frantic outbursts aside--he knows how to throw things away.
4. Appearance: Knowing that books are all too often judged by their covers, together people reflect their inner organization in their appearance. Sometimes they're color-coordinated, but together people realize that extreme color coordination shows overkill. However, their skirts/pants/shirts are always unwrinkled, and complement each other. Their hair is, if not gorgeous and luxuriant, smooth and tame. Shoes on together people's feet are not scuffed. They own an iron, and know how to use it.
Non-together people can be spotted by the trails they leave (handkerchiefs, pencils, etc.), the hair that goes every which way, the mismatched socks. I have long since given up on having any sort of coherent appearance, and have blotted my perpetually messy hair and red nose out of my mind. Those around me get used to it eventually, but then, they've accepted that I am the embodiment of entropy. My usual costume of leggings, tennis shoes and large overshirt/sweater is not only easy to put on (I'm always running late, remember?) but is also not supposed to look creased and pressed.
5. Name recall: Together people remember names. They can also put these names to faces. Together people are unfazed when they run into their first-year hallmates and sophomore year extracurricular-mates while walking with co-workers--together people remember not only all the names, but the hometowns and general bios as well. "Lois, are you still into watercolors? David here is thinking of switching from oils."
Non-together people pray that they're not called upon to remember names. I've tried every trick in the book, but my name recognition ability is dreadful. My roommate and I have worked out a system--if I don't immediately introduce her to someone who greets me, she takes that I've forgotten their name and introduces herself. Fortunately, my boyfriend has the same name as my roommate's long-time significant other, so I remember his name fairly well. (It helps that "Chris" is relatively easy to spell and pronounce.) Cosmo and Vogue may not realize it, but for non-together people, the name recognition factor can be significant in the search for the perfect mate.
At this point, I know you're wondering how I, and other severely non-together people, have managed to get this far. The answer is straightforward--enablers. Parents who are willing to make tax and travel arrangements (my mother is organized enough to frighten off the IRS). Kind friends who don't mind waiting 15 minutes at Uno's for their dinner companion to arrive. Extracurricular companions who organize major committees and post prominent notices of meetings. Those sorts of people. It's still undecided whether or not this comprises a step towards sainthood, but it definitely accumulates a lot of good karma.
Perhaps one day I'll become a together person. I'll calm down. My hair will behave. I'll bring everything I need to section. I won't be late for Dungeons and Dragons sessions any more. I'll buy a daily planner--and use it. Tomorrow, maybe. Right after I finish writing that paper I forgot about. I'm a little worried, but that's nothing new. I figure that at worst I can finish it at the last minute. After all, who cares if I'm a teensy bit late to class....?