It’s been many years since the first time I left LL and Kid One alone to fend for themselves. I was a mess in the days before I left, fretting and cleaning and generally acting a bit crazy. LL finally asked what was wrong. After a pause I decided to tell the truth, “I’m afraid you’re going to open a closet door and everything will come tumbling out. Then you’ll know my secret.” His very gracious response was that, after all these years of living together, he already knew about these particular skeletons in my closet. Freedom, at last! I was left to focus on learning ways to keep things in order rather than thinking I was hiding the fact that they weren’t.

Some scientists argue that nature favors chaos over order. The state of my kitchen, when life gets in the way of my carefully implemented attempts at harmony, is a fine example of this theory. Countertops and floors glisten, but beware what lies beneath: the flatware caddy, spattered with drips of dried sauce. The bread drawer, littered with crushed crackers and loose bits of rice. Dish towels, tupperware, cookie cutters, and purse-size bottles of Tobasco sauce all thrown haphazardly together in another. Spice jars propped at odd angles next to each other threaten to leap through an open cupboard. Behind the refrigerator door? It’s entirely possible new scientific theories are waiting to be found in baggies of dried cheese rinds, bits of wilted beet green, and mysterious containers of last weeks (or last month’s) meals.

Even though my world tends toward chaos, I don’t thrive on the disorder. There seems to be an inverse relationship between my cupboard clutter and creative output. It’s a simple example of entropy, as defined in Kid One’s economics text. “Higher the entropy, higher the disorder and lower the availability of the system’s energy to do useful work.” Are dried drips in the silverware drawer a badge I should wear proudly, marking a life spent living, not cleaning? Or do I just wipe out the drawers and get writing? Equating messy cabinets with mental cobwebs, I chose the latter.

Reducing entropy led to a tasty, if odd, dinner. Cold rice and leftover stir-fry veggies combined for fried rice. One handful of stray bits fashioned into a mushroom and pesto pizza; opened refried beans and cooked chicken resurfaced as nachos. Around the World in 80 Bites. Then the real work: sad-looking vegetables and herbs tossed in a pot of water and remade as vegetable stock. Any container of food I had no recollection of having prepared in the previous two weeks, down the disposal. I took the vacuum and Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day to the drawers; they are no longer an embarrassment. Until the natural forces in the world combine to muddle my mind again, I am again writing.