A systematic life

Weird unicorn birthday card illustration

I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to being organised. I love it. It makes me feel very calm and ordered to have extra supplies of necessary household things in the drawer, biding their time. I also enjoy the idea that the new, full tube of toothpaste is lying in waiting, patiently longing for its turn on the world stage of the bathroom sink. Anthropomorphism aside, it makes life easier and the household less stressy. What you need is where you need it, and when.

Let me explain the level I take this to:

  • I keep a needle ready threaded with grey thread, the knot already tied, for emergency repairs to school trousers at 8.43am.
  • The baking recipes I use again and again are all bookmarked (and also sticky) for easy reference, and annotated with past success… and failure.
  • I have a shoe kit, a first aid kit, a stationery kit, a wrapping up presents kit, a cleaning kit, a spare change purse, a fish and chips kit (essentially £20 in an envelope, to be deployed in emergencies), a cat sick kit, a sketching kit and most essentially a mouse catching kit (a sturdy piece of flat plastic, and a large plastic pot), all in the under the stairs cupboard and ready to be employed at a moment’s notice.
  • I keep two large enamel bowls, one upstairs and one down. Think wet washing, spills, unnamed substances. Or maybe you’d prefer not to; you choose.

There are black holes. It doesn’t always work. Bread, for example, seems to disappear as fast as I can buy it. I don’t know where that goes to! Teabags too, just vanish. And the toolbox is so readily plundered by two bike-mad boys, you can never find a screwdriver anywhere.

But allow me to explain my most wonderful idea of all  – the birthday cards. Trying to live a little (because I do know it’s a bit intense to have this many systems), I decided to let this one slip. I can do it, I thought, I’ll make handcrafted cards as I go along. No one got a single birthday card for two whole years. Sorry, my loves. But this year, I am back on it! You will get a card, perfectly chosen just for you, on the right day. But how?

It’s easy. On January 1st, accompanied by a large slab of Christmas cake and a green ginger wine, order a gazillion funny/weird/garish/ridiculous/with boggly eyes birthday cards online. Throw in the odd pretty one too, just for the sake of it. The next day, if you can afford it all at once – try the spare change purse for extra funds, and failing that raid the fish and chips kit – buy a huge number of stamps. Guard them fiercely all the way home – it’s like carrying back a ship’s cargo of cashews*.

Spread out all the cards, and go through the calendar, carefully choosing the right card for each person’s birthday. This is the crucial bit – address the envelopes now. It takes ages. If you don’t know the address, text someone who might. Stack all the cards and their addressed envelopes in a chronological pile. Make sure the dates of the birthdays are in your diary – the one you look at – and put the whole stack in the drawer with the stamps.

A few days before each birthday, simply write the card, choose First or Second class stamp depending on how much time you have, and pop the card in the post. Simples!

It sounds a little over engineered, but it actually makes the year of birthdays very easy**. The best bit is that in those glum moments of life, you can hug yourself with glee, remembering that, giggling, you chose a weird unicorn card in January for James’ 17th, and in May he will receive it (and love it, no doubt).

It’s the little things that keep you going!



*We once had the good fortune to meet a sailor who captained cargo ships all around the world. Arne stayed for a few days and told us many tales of life on the high seas. He made us guess: what was his most valuable cargo, did we think? Cashew nuts! He also mentioned that he had only ever seen Cornwall through his binoculars, from the boat, and he would love to visit, as the coastline looked beautiful. What a fresh perspective he had, on everything! (Do visit us again, Arne, if you ever read this.)

**Except, a Monday birthday is particularly challenging even when organised as above. You must remember to post on Friday. Sorry, Sai! Your card’s in the post for tomorrow! The irony of this failure, coupled with smug blog post, is not lost on me. 🙂

9 Comments on “A systematic life

  1. Lol. You’re certainly well organised and prepared. Or is it a control thing? Made me laugh reading this 😀

    • I. Must. Control. Everything!!! Ha ha. But the birthday cards is more about feeling disappointed that I forget to celebrate all the birthdays. It’s more fun to remember them, especially if the cards have boggly eyes on them.

      • You sound like a busy body so I guess that means you’ll forget some things. Ah, nobody’s perfect 😀

      • Yes you are. Your funny ways make you perfect 👌🏻

      • Well, I do think we are all perfectly ourselves if we can learn to embrace who we were born to be. 🙂

  2. I love this Trudi, and yes, James loved his unicorn card! 😀X

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