Friday 24 April 2015

7 Quick Takes 7: A life-changing saga of tidying up.

A  seven-part mini saga of our life with The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.

1. I come across this title via This Ain't the Lyceum. As someone who enjoys putting off organizing by reading about it, I investigate further. People are enthusiastic, scathing or downright sarcastic. "I'm number 250 on the library waiting list," others bemoan. What can be so polarizing about a book on tidying? Now I have to read it. Fortunately, the arm of a university inter-library loan system reaches far. I have a copy in my hands after two weeks.

2. To summarize: Marie Kondo (of the KonMari method) recommends you sort by category rather than room (all tops, all books, all mementos etc.), and all at once rather than bit by bit. You handle each item individually and only keep what "sparks joy". Some people seem upset or nonplussed by her attitude that items like socks have feelings, but this doesn't bother me because I have been caught talking to the dishwasher am culturally sensitive.

3. I let my eleven-year-old daughter see the book. I know this is dangerous because she has inherited a trait from my husband’s side of the family that may charitably be called "great force of will". Over the course of two days she gets rid of about two thirds of her possessions. I have to bite my tongue, because I’ve read the parts of the book that tell her A) mothers are likely to scupper her plans and B) younger sisters are tragic victims of having stuff forced on them by elder sisters. It takes me another three days to sort through her piles and nearly sends me into labour.

4. My elder daughter picks up the book casually on a weekend visit home. After a short while, she sets it aside. “I can’t read this book,” she announces. “It will compel me to reorganize my entire life, and I don’t have time.”

5. “You should read it,” I suggest to my husband. “After all, you like Naruto and that's Japanese.” I know the connection between anime and a tidying book is tenuous, but it’s worth a try. And Naruto apparently simultaneously owns no possessions yet has an apartment full of rubbish.

Not quite feng shui

I look around the house. “We have too much stuff,’ I sigh. “No we don’t,” my husband snaps back. “You got rid of it all.” He is afraid that I’ll run out of stuff to discard and turn a critical eye on him.

6. I stare mournfully at my closet, longing to free myself of half my clothes, but I'm about to be the size that Simcha Fisher so perfectly described as "shut up, I just had a baby". I throw out some token items that I'm convinced won't "spark joy" even if they're the only things that fit me one particular week. Our bookshelves got purged when we rearranged furniture at Christmas, so only a few items there. I wander round the house desperate to find piles off stuff to throw out. Maybe my husband is right after all.

7. The inter-library loan period runs out. I type up notes from the book (but keep them on the computer so I don’t add clutter to the house) and return it reluctantly. I spend a couple of weeks trying to detox, haunting websites and bookstores in hopes I'll find a copy so cheap I can justify buying one. But will it spark joy?

For more Seven Quick Takes, join Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum.

Friday 10 April 2015

7QT 6: Lessons from 1962

I was at an estate sale the other weekend and I picked up a copy of Seventeen magazine from 1962, thinking it would be a fun Easter gift for my elder daughter.  Here are seven things I learned, but first, a quiz: do you recognize this guy?

1. The right amount of raccoon or nutria fur makes an outfit. Or you can go all-out for Australian opossum and South American cat.

2. Thought abbreviations were a curse of the internet age?  TWYI - talk your way in - was the code for getting into college classes without having to test in. Does not knowing that make me a twink (out of date) or a boink (stupid person)?

3. Your bowling game not up to scratch?  Perhaps it's your underwear. Try perma-lift panties.

4. On that subject, girls should be spending the summer before college sewing name tags into their underwear. I hope it's because someone else was doing their laundry and not because they were losing their underclothes around campus.

5. Talking of campus, Princeton University reported $200,000 worth of petty theft from their college store over the past two years. It was a cooperative, so those top-notch Ivy League students were stealing from themselves.

6. The victim mentality wasn't heard of. Having trouble with your stepmother?-What have you done to make her feel welcome? Your boyfriend looks to others for advice?-Maybe you're too focused on yourself.

7. Finally, my husband looked at the cover girl and began humming a rift on a Beatles' song: She was just seventy, you know what I mean...

Answer: Bob Dylan. Really.

For more Seven Quick Takes, link up with Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum.