Monday, December 15, 2014

Kondo Crazy

I am amused to see that all the self-improvement type decluttering fans have gone Kondo crazy (see, the New York Times,Chris Guillebeau, etc.). Marie Kondo, that is, the author of the book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying-Up". But why wouldn't we? It's life-changing!

Well, it has the potential to be, anyway. I have only been folding my clothes for 4 weeks. I suppose I could jump in a little deeper water, and I intend to soon.

Her basic premise is that you reduce clutter by category, all at once, by giving respect to your possessions, handling them all (!!!) and seeing if they spark joy in you, as a condition for staying in your life. Otherwise, you thank them for their service, and send them on their way (to another recipient, Goodwill, a landfill, whatever.)

I LOVE this idea. Because to be surrounded by only things that you love... where would the struggle be? And if you needed more things, you would only buy things that you loved, right? Because there's only so much room in your house.

And I do recommend you read the book, if you are inspired by my synopsis, because there's so much more subtlety and a shocking disregard for sentimentality. "But I could never get rid of all my paper!" you think. (She gives a pass to your old love letters, so relax.) Everyone has a weakness or lame collection somewhere (I suspect it could be craft items for me. Or old journals.)

And I also love that she asks you to visualize what you will experience when you have completed the project. How will it make you feel? What will it allow you to experience?

It still feels odd, wildly throwing away boxes from new appliances (what if I have to move? How will we pack the coffee maker? This seems like a semi-reasonable question until you consider that I have lived in this house for 17 years, am not looking for new housing, and coffee makers are not especially fragile and could probably be wrapped in larger moving box anyway.) Now, multiply this thought process times 5,000, which might not even been a good estimate of the number of items in my home. Does it make me happy? Yes, or no. The end. Oh.

Ah, but what to do about the husband's stuff? She has some adorable stories about her precocious teen years, raising the ire of family members by decluttering for them, but doesn't provide a clear solution for the reader. Perhaps he will be jealous of my joyful room. Perhaps he won't notice that 10 years of music magazines stacked in the bathroom (and soaked in microscopic urine and fecal spores, if there is such a thing, which there probably isn't) have ended up in the recycling bin.

But there's nothing as compelling as a before and after picture. Here is my "sweatpants" drawer before:
(There's some shorts in there, too.)

And here is the same drawer, all refolded, with the horrible hippy skirt, random white bustier, and other non-lovable items removed:

To be continued.....

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

An open letter to Renee...

Dear Renee,

I am writing to you about your face. Or rather, the media attention on your face. I know, it's old news at this point, but it really bothers me. You see, we're about the same age, and I think I know what you're going through.

Charming Diagram from New York Daily News here.

But you're right, in so many ways, I don't. I've never been famous. Hell, I've never even been thin. I don't make money with my face. If I got a peel, some fillers, and a nose job, absolutely no one but my husband would notice. And he'd be pissed that I'd spent so much money to look marginally better for a very short amount of time, and that he had to do all the chores and cooking during my recovery.

But here's the thing. When you're 45, stuff starts to happen. Cheeks deflate. Eyes sink. Puffy lips have creases around the borders. One day, you see a picture of your neck and it's shocking. Whose neck IS that?

But that's kind of what makes it beautiful, you know? Wabi sabi? Shabby chic? A beautiful face decays, and you can no longer deny that you've had experiences, and heartbreaks, and that you've cried, or stayed up too late or had too many fried pickles and gin and tonics. You don't have to walk around like perpetually ripe melon any more. You can wear a ton of eyeliner, or none.

And to worry about the size of your eye, the depth of the nasolabial folds, whether there's a dark spot on one cheek, is absolutely ridiculous at this point. It's not fair that women have to report to the rest of the world about what they've done with their bodies or faces. But when you do something, and don't report it, that's not fair either.

I think that I look younger than you, because I didn't do anything to my face. Is that the contest, who can look younger? And by anything, I mean with needles or scalpels because yes, I used sunscreen and moisturizer. Sometimes, they market me into trying a new cream (I'm scoping out an undereye one right now). But for you to pretend that you've just been resting and in love is absolutely insulting. Fuck you. Admit that you're scared. Point out that the system is unfair. But don't try to tell me it's because you're in a good (read, better than anyone's) place, and just looking well rested. If eyes are the windows to the soul, well, you've messed with them, and now we're worried about your soul.

Why not just deal with the fact that there will be comment, whether you do or do not "do" anything to your face? Would it have hurt more to have heard them say you looked 45? Because there are so, so so many of us who don't have any other option.

I'm not saying you're a bad person. I'm quite clear it's just a rigged system. I am glad you're happy and well-rested and in love. But you could have been happy, well-rested and in love without throwing your colleagues in their 40s into a tizzy of self-doubt, horror and shame. I am sure you have your reasons.