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Keep a Hook Free for Me

Andy and I don't have the same taste in home decor. I would call his interior design style "College Dorm". His decorum includes the typical items like black cords, a variety of electronics and at least he frames his posters. Andy is a quirky college guy though. His eclectic taste mixes plastic Wal-Mart furniture with antique chairs, boxes of yet-to-be organized papers with a late 19th century breakfront. It's "frat house meets antique book collector."

I've discussed Andy's lasagna organization technique which utilizes the piles and stacking methods. Most of his belongings look like a variation of a Jenga game. At any moment that one pair of pants, half sticking out mid-way through the pile, could easily topple over the stacks of slacks. I haven't seen the bottom of his trunk in...well, I was going to say years but he just got a new car so I haven't seen the trunks of his car since the keys passed into his possession.

Speaking of keys, one of our many decorating/organizing arguments involves a key holder. Without asking me, Andy bought a hideous brass key shaped key chain with 5 hooks. He mounted it below a pass through window between the living room and the kitchen. He mounted it at about 3 1/2 feet above the floor. He mounted it in a visually noticeable spot in the house and at a child accessible height. Not only have the kids locked our cars and turned on the car alarms on many occasions but it is just plain ugly. I'm in favor of hiding the day-to-day stuff in an effort to make our house look like a Pottery Barn catalog. I firmly believe everything should be in its place and that there is a place for everything. Family photos should be on display. Art should be on display. Cords should not be on display. Stacks of loose paper should not be on display. Receipts should not be on display. Keys should not be on display.

To make matters worse, all 5 hooks are filled with Andy's keys. He has 7 key chains with anywhere between 10 and 30 (I can't make this shit up) keys. The key chains are so big and heavy that he could easily hit someone over the head and knock them out. I have one key chain and on it are about 7 keys for the house, work, cars, etc. While I despise the brass key chain holder, I must confess that I use it. Or at least I try to.

Many nights I come home from work and methodically put my keys on the holder, without even looking at it. A few nights ago, I was telling one kid to stop laying on the dog while telling the other kid to put her shoes in the shoe cubby. I wasn't looking at the holder and I missed the hook and my keys fell to the floor. As I picked them up I looked at the hook and realized I hand't misjudged after all. My keys had hit the hook but there was no room for more keys. 5 hooks for 5 sets of keys and there was no room for my key chain with 7 keys on it's ring. In exasperation I asked Andy, "Can you please keep one hook free for me?"

Andy manages his life like he manages his stuff. He piles responsibility up like a Jenga game, each piece balanced precariously on top of the other. With little sleep and a penchant for saying yes to everything, it seems (to an outsider, at least) that the leaning tower of Pisa could fall at any moment. He goes from meeting to meeting to meeting, one after another, some overlapping so he calls in to one meeting from another meeting. I jokingly ask him if he's the head of the Committee on Committees but he never laughs. I'm worried it's true. Many days he is out the door before the girls get the bus and returns long after I am in bed. By the end of the week he falls asleep at 7, with his phone in his hand, muttering about all the tasks that await him in the day ahead. He is tired and I'm tired just being around him. And I'm not around him all that often.

I like to say that Andy and I are like ships passing in the night. Except I'm a paddle boat with a broken rudder. I putter around by the dock, pull seaweed from my rudder, spin in circles. I only have room for a few sailors, er, um, paddlers. Too much weight makes me sink. Too much wind tips me over. I have been trying to think about what type of vessel Andy is. I suggested he is a cruise liner. He's a sturdy boat who is always there for entertainment. He's steady, on course, and always wants everyone to enjoy the ride. It's just too bad that the girls and I missed that boat. Andy has a more fitting boat suggestion for himself. He is a tug boat: a powerful and strongly-built boat designed to push or pull other boats that don't have the power or ability to push themselves. Yep, that sounds like Andy- the non-profit, community service tug boat. When there's a committee in need of organization, a committee that can't push itself forward, Andy is there to pull the committee to where it needs to go. Got a non-profit that's stalled due to some board challenges? Let Tug Boat Andy break the ice and get the organization to a safe harbor. The 9/11 collection? That's Tug Boat Andy's garbage barge. When I'm lucky, Tug Boat Andy stops and picks me up and I enjoy a ride back home and five minutes of his undivided attention.

Despite my efforts, and let me tell you I have put a lot of effort into it, Andy will not slow down and he won't stop tugging and he won't just fu*&ing straighten out the pieces of his Jenga game and save me from some anxiety and heart burn. And he won't throw away anything, especially all of those keys. All I can do is ask him for one simple things: keep a hook free for me.

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