the phrase "tidy up" has always meant one thing to mean: stack anything that can't be thrown away or filed immediately. if it requires opening an envelope to file: stack it. if it's unstackable for reasons of shape or size, it must be relocated to an out of sight storage area. i wasn't fully aware of how compulsive i am about this until living with coffeeshopgirl who is very much a non-stacker. she is, however, incredibly patient, which means she shakes her head and laughs at me when i get lost in the Zone. she's even gone so far as to pre-stack for me. i say 'pre-stack' because i will inevitably rework the piles in some way. you see, items must be in arranged in a size hierarchy. you can't put a magazine on top of a pile of letter sized envelopes because then the magazine won't actually lay flat. horizontalness is the key to a successful stack.
stacking doesn't have to apply to just coffeetables and countertops. the refrigerator is a stacker's dream (or nightmare as the case may be). things that disrupt stacking harmony:
- round fruit
- casserole dishes
- condiments on the top shelf
- heads of lettuce
- chocolate (because it's distracting and will make you forget what you were trying to stack)
- things that come in bags (this applies more to cabinet/pantry shelves, e.g. beans and rice)
you may be wondering why i keep repeating the word "stack" instead of giving you some relief with alternatives like "pile" or "heap." it's because these words don't convey the same sense of order and symmetry that are inherent in the word "stack."
"pile" implies a jumble of items that may or may not have been arranged with intention and "heap" indicates an even less cohesive mass of objects. these words remind me of the roughed-in bathroom that my brother used as a closet in high school. there could have been an entire marching band trapped under the heap of clothes that comprised his wardrobe and we wouldn't have known it until moving day when the Fight Song drifted down the staircase as he packed.
sadly, merriam webster doesn't fully support my distinction, as the word stack is defined using qualified versions of "pile" and "heap."
would you use the word "stack" to describe this??