The Organized Guerilla

We modern Americans are quick to pathologize. With all the pharmaceutical ads, covering a broad spectrum of real (depression, heart disease) and imagined (short eyelashes) disorders, everyone is familiar with the language of diagnosis and treatment. Those terms have quickly become part of our everyday lexicon, as people toss off armchair opinions about bosses, spouses, and co-workers -- bi-polar, Asperger-yand, my favorite, OCD.

Every designer and craftsman has got a touch of the neurotic. A dose of intensely-focused, self-critical thinking is key to pushing the intellectual process forward. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a specific type of neuroticism, focused on unhealthy, repetitive behaviors (rituals) that bring a measure of calm to an anxious person. OCD, when used in a slang context, is usually wrongly attributed to someone who is (overly) organized or clean. While certain cleaning activities may be ritualized by a true OCD sufferer, merely being neat is not a mental disorder.


A small portion of the mess.

As you can probably guess, I think all this pathologizing is unhealthy and a bit cruel. It does a disservice to those that are actually ill by trivializing their troubles.

Which brings me to three hours on a recent Saturday morning. I have been a nomad the last few years, living in five states in the last six years. Through this time I have gradually been acquiring more tools to pursue my craft. I am a reluctant collector of stuff, as I have an inborn aversion to clutter. Stuff holds you down; stuff hampers your movement; stuff hates freedom. But I need stuff, and much of my stuff (a drill) requires other stuff (bits, screws, batteries). It can be downright exhausting.


Breakpackin'. That thing was filthy.

I decided to handle it, at long last. Instead of all my tools living in a broken-down assortment of bags, milk crates, and cardboard boxes, I would consolidate and organize. I ended up using three old break-pack totes, the bright plastic boxes used for merchandise in drug stores. I found a couple in the back of the Currency Exchange. Don't take them from behind stores; much like milk crates, they are owned by the shipping companies and store owners are liable for their loss.


Organization can be so divisive.



I made a few plywood dividers, and bought a lot of little plastic containers at the grocery store. Now I have three totes: power tools, hand tools, and fasteners. It is a portable, stackable guerilla shop that can handle a wide variety of projects. About all I still need is a circular saw.


Now that's a handsome box of bolts, fella.

The other value in undertaking a project like this (wait for a rainy day), is that it allows one to edit one's possessions. When all laid out on a table, duplicates and broken things and sentimental favorites all quickly become apparent. 

This organizing and packing will keep me streamlined and efficient in the field, everything close at hand and easy to find. Or maybe this organizing and packing is just a ritual that brings me some measure of comfort . . .