The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, or Fondue NOT

Anybody read this book?


I’d heard about it long before I actually picked it up. To be honest, I put off reading this one. I knew that once I did, I’d have to set about the task of finally cleaning up my bedroom, something I’ve been avoiding for ummm, you know . . . the entire span of my kids’ lives. (That’s only six months, but still.)

The author is, admittedly, a little nuts. (Read the Goodreads reviews for some less kind assessments). Marie Kondo tells us she’s been obsessed with tidying her entire life, and the book is full of her little quirks. She’s particularly fastidious about socks:

“Never, ever tie up your stockings. Never, ever ball up your socks.”

When Kondo sees high school students with loose knee socks, she “longs” to tell them how to fold correctly. She becomes distressed–like, really distressed–at soap scum in the shower. She urges against stacking clothes and books, out of deference to the items’ feelings. Kondo cares about space and feng shui and the spirit of inanimate objects–all ideas that sound pretty kooky to Westerners. It would be easy to write off the book because the point of view is just so different than what we stuff-loving Americans are used to.

But TLCMOTU is chock-full of wisdom:

That’s pretty good, right? As I learned from episodes of Oprah dedicated to hoarders, people who have problems with clutter never *really* have just a “clutter problem.” We hold on to stuff because we think it will keep us safe. We hold on to stuff out of guilt. We hold on to stuff out of confusion about or attachment to past relationships. How many things in our life actually “spark joy,” the measuring stick by which Marie Kondo determines if something deserves to stay in her house? Adherents of the KonMari method (the author’s trademark tidying style) are supposed to actually touch EVERYTHING in their houses to see if it sparks joy. There’s a specific order by which you’re supposed to go about tidying: clothes, books, papers, and miscellaneous items. Kondo says that, as you go through the categories, you dump it ALL on the floor. If you don’t feel a spark of joy transmitted from an object to your hand when you touch it, away it goes. You’re supposed to do this fast–all in one go if possible, allowing for six months as the maximum amount of time allotted for the entire tidying process. As the title claims, the results of this process are guaranteed to be life-changing. People never revert to their hoarding, clutter-accumulating ways, Kondo says. People shed weight after shedding their stuff. Kondo claims that after the tidying process, many of her clients have discovered their true purpose in life and confidently pursued it. Getting rid of all the physical crap they don’t need enables Kondo’s clients to throw out mental garbage as well. They are light and free after putting their houses in order.

You know what? I believe it.

I guess that’s why I resisted picking this up–the subconscious knowledge that once I read it, I’d have to get my butt in gear. But we’re gonna do it. My husband and I have marked this Sunday as the day our tidying experiment will begin. I’m salivating thinking about all the crap I’m gonna throw away. HOW do I have so much crap, anyway? I never shop and our house is a mere 1,000 square feet. Still: my closet is a war zone. The papers stacked on my dresser fill me with anxiety. Though I may not squeal and cry whenever I look at the pain medication from my C-section that still sits on my nightstand six months later–a la Kondo and her distress over soap scum–I’m crying on the inside. I get a twist-y, cringe-y feeling just thinking about it now.

And this. THIS.Displaying 20160511_124712.jpg



Whoever gave us this fondue pot–God bless you. I know you had the best of intentions. For the first two years of my marriage I looked at this pot and thought “I really ought to try that out.” Then  the thing sat in storage for four years while Ryan and I lived in Pittsburgh. We moved back to Dallas and hauled it out of storage, and for the last two years the pot has been a wonderful receptacle for my collection of pie plates (which also needs to be tidied–alas, I’ve never made more than one pie at once).

Oh, fondue pot. You held such promise. You with your elegantly curved sides, your dozens of pointy chopstick-like-plastic-thingies that came with you. Presumably, these plastic thingies would have aided us in the process of making fondue. We’ll never know. But oh, what fun we would have had! An alternate Sliding Doors-like reality plays before my eyes: one in which I and Ryan and our slim, elegantly clothed friends gather on the veranda ’round the fondue pot. We’re all dressed Gatsby style, in drop-waisted jersey dresses and double-breasted suits. In one hand I clutch a flute of champagne: in the other a strawberry, dipped in chocolate fondue. I toss my head back and laugh merrily in between bites of said dipped strawberry, then gaze across the bay to the green light on the other shore.

‘Twas not to be. See, as it turns out, I already had a fondue pot. That pot was called “any other saucepan in the cabinet which I chose to place on the stove.” Or, “any other bowl that I could put in the microwave.”

Oh, Fondy. I never asked for you, yet for some reason you came into my life. Marie Kondo told me that once someone has given you a gift, it has served its purpose. The joy that person felt in giving you a present in that particular moment–that’s the thing that counts. We don’t need to hold onto things out of some deranged sense of obligation or guilt. Instead, we can thank our things for the joy that they at one time brought us, and joyfully send them on their way. We bid them adieu. Or fond-ieu.

I’ll look back on you with fondness, Fondy. You’ve served your due.

(I’m done.)

So tell me: what fondue pots are in your closet? What pieces of crap unused items are you itching to shove in a landfill joyfully liberate?

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  1. Jess - May 13, 2016 @ 5:28 pm

    you so funny. Love this! brb gotta go throw away EVERYTHING.

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