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.

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