Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Vortex

It's not uncommon for me to misplace things. In fact, it's very common. I "lose" stuff all the time. I'll spend five minutes trying to find a particular CD book, 10 minutes trying to find a document I printed and stuffed somewhere, and 15 minutes trying to find a remote. I'm not the only person in my family to have to search for stuff a lot. My dad is a frequent misplacer as well. However, the searching affliction sometimes even affects my mom and my sister...which means there's more to it than simple misplacing.

Whenever we can't find something that is definitely in our house, we say that it's "lost in the vortex." I don't remember when my mom first said that phrase, but it really fits.

Our house is not that big. Really, it isn't. It's a three bedroom (or maybe 2.5 bedroom) house with a basement. There is no upstairs and we have only one bathroom. Everything about our house is a bit smaller than what's considered "normal" but it's definitely a lot better than an apartment. In a house like this, you'd figure that you couldn't really lose something. After all, there are only so many rooms to check. However, there are a couple of reasons why something can end up paradise lost.

The first is that we have a lot of stuff. My sister and I have lived in this house our entire lives. We have never moved except to go to the dorm for college. People accumulate a lot in 25 years. I have tons of CDs, DVDs, videotapes, books, and comic books. My mom used to be a teacher and even though she has given or thrown away a lot of the stuff she used to use, she still has a lot of stuff. My dad and my sister don't have as much but there is one drawer in my dad's dresser that is a mini-Vortex onto itself.

In the many times I've tried looking for something, I've found that the biggest obstacle in finding something is...something else. Having a lot of stuff means that when you lose something, you have to move the stuff in order to find it. When you move stuff, things can get misplaced again. It's a vicious cycle. For example, I ransacked my room looking for my wallet yesterday. Eventually, I found my wallet. When I came back from work, I found that I couldn't find the flashlight I used to try and find the wallet. Sad, no?

When having a lot of stuff is combined with not having a lot of space, you get a bigger problem. Without the space to give things a proper place, much of your stuff ends up in sort of an organized disarray. You know where things are (at least you think you do) even though they are not in a place that they should be. However, since they're technically in disarray, you can lose them easier. I used to keep my remotes on the floor near my bed. Remotes shouldn't be stored on the floor, but I didn't really care because I knew where they were. When I did this, there was many a time where I couldn't find my remote for a few minutes. I got so frustrated with those searches (and the fact that I really, truly did lose a remote) that I found a place for my remotes (my desk). Now, I don't lose them nearly as often.

The other reason why something can end up lost in the Vortex is our house's "nooks and crannies." Our house doesn't have holes in the walls or anything like that. However, it does have corners, crevices, and other difficult to reach places that can hide stuff that gets lost. Also, a lot of the large stuff we own (furniture, mostly) have nooks and crannies that can suck up our stuff. On two different occasions, we couldn't find the cable remote for the TV in our living room. The remote wasn't to be found in the typical places such as the table(s), the floor, or on our couch. In fact, it wasn't even visible when we took the sheets off our couch and chairs and looked underneath the cushions. It took a long while (the first time, it took more than a day) but we did finally find the remote in both cases. In each case, it had sunk into an area of our furniture previously unknown to us. We made a pact to never leave a remote on a couch or a chair again.

Unless we ever get a larger residence, open an account at a public storage facility, or throw away even more than we have already, the Vortex will still be around in some way. The key to surviving this seems to be a routine. I've found that I don't lose stuff as much if I follow a routine about important items such as always putting my remotes somewhere on my desk. The only time the Vortex really gets me is if I deviate from that routine (or someone else moves something of mine).

I wonder what will happen when I get a place of my own. Will I be able to find stuff most of the time or will it too be able to make things lost in the Vortex?

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