When Sparking Joy Ignites a Fight

Tennis socks, circa 1989

Hello! You know what you should never do if you are an uptight rule abider with an ego? Watch KonMari youtube videos by a vlogger who hasn’t read the book and finds joy in every single piece of name-brand clothing in their stuffed closets. I watched a really annoying video bya KonMari “konvert” today that brought all my many faults to the surface. You guys, I counted on my fingers the number of times she said “literally” incorrectly and thought of this meme the entiretime. I am a horrible person and tangentially the whole thingreminded reminded me of a fight I had with my mother a couple of months ago.

I bet my mother would hate Marie Kondo. I bet she’d call her a heartless person without an ounce of sentimentality. I know this because that’s what she calledme in Lake Tahoe when I suggested she get rid of the 30 year old popcorn air popper her dad gave her. I don’t have a heart; I don’t have any feelings; I don’t appreciate antiques. The last one made my eyebrows jump. As if anything from the 1980s is an antique!

“I may not have a heart,” Isnappedback, “but at least I have cabinet space!”

We agreed to disagree. Rather, I conceded that how she keeps her house (organized, impeccably clean, full of stuff I think needs to go) is none of my business. It’s funny, because when I got home from Lake Tahoe I readThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and in it Kondo shares severalstories cautionary tales of how she would organize (get rid of) her family’s possessions without telling them for their own good. She learned quickly that tossing out someone else’s possessions was a really bad idea. My first thought was “duh” and that Kondo was a bossy, insufferable child. Then I thought wait a minute…

If “sparking joy” was a human requirement, my family would have donated me shortly after puberty. Thank God my mom is so sentimental!

Clothing 2

Clothing 3

Yes, getting rid of things is generally easy for me, but not always. I err on the side of tossing somethingout probably because, unlike my parents, I grew up without wanting for anything. I also grew up learning money doesn’t buy what you really need, a lesson that was later reinforced as an adult. And my mom was right–I’m not a very sentimental person. But I’m glad she is, because I would have tossed out my high school tennis socks decades ago and had I done that, I wouldn’t have found them folded neatly in a drawer in Lake Tahoe. I didn’t bring enough socks; they came in handy and I wore them on the trip home. I was tempted to toss them out this weekbut decided to keepthem because…I don’t know. They remind me of my mom, I guess, which is proof I’m at least a little sentimental! They also remind me to mind my own business and acknowledgethat my way isn’t the only way to do things. They are now my talisman of anti-turd behavior.

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I could have finished everything, but I got bored and read books for the library instead. I’m at about 50% complete right now. I’m not a person who looks forward to organizing or cleaning, so I easily grab onto any possible distraction. I had one small snafu with the drawers, which I used as an excuse to put off the project for two days. Either Japan has the deepest drawers the world over, or I keep buying dressers with shallow drawers. I ended up laying the shirts slightly on their side and then filing them from left to right instead of front to back. Yes, moving shirts 90 degrees was a solution that took two days to develop. “Develop” means keeping all the shirts in a jumbled mess at the foot of my bed until hours beforeMister was scheduled to come back from a business trip.


I now have a drawer for my scarves, which I rarely wear! But last year I received four as gifts and the 5th one in the drawer–the black one–is a handmade gift from my aunt.I’m keeping them because this year I plan to experiment with them as I move towards a minimal wardrobe.

Clothing-11 Clothing-10

My socks! I’ve always folded my socks and underwear, so the only thing different here is how I store them. I removed the special “sock organizing containers”I put in a couple of years ago. They actually made everything more of a mess. For once, my shallow drawers came in handy!

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Next week I’ll finish everything up in my room. I’m going to ask the Mister if he wants me to do his closet. He can go through his own clothes (I might throw away something I shouldn’t is my diplomatic excuse) and then I’ll go behind him and organize everything into little origami rectangles.


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  1. I am again soooo impressed with your beautiful folding. My t shirts are rolled up and I clearly never found their sweet spot. I hope they aren’t too depressed about it! Some of my running shirts are over twenty five years old and I’m not sure they would stand at attention. Inspiring to see your work. Your mom sounds amazing.

  2. I love the folding, and despite the fact that I’ve not yet read the book (currently 25th in line at the library) I’ve started doing our drawers this way too.

    I do have to say I think Kondo’s encouragement to toss others’ belongings is really bad advice. Have you heard the recent story about the husband who purged his wife’s beloved copy of Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret? http://www.today.com/popculture/judy-blume-book-gone-man-desperate-find-wifes-treasure-after-t35781

    • Oh no! Kondo doesn’t suggest you get rid of your family’s stuff. Those were cautionary tales she uses to show why we shouldn’t even though we may want to and are frustrated they don’t see what we see. Sorry about that–I edited the post to make that more clear. Bad form on my part to write as if everyone has read the book. 🙁

  3. Reading your blog sparks joy for me, ha! I too drank the kool aid and have been folding the contents of drawers….but reading your thoughts on it has made me laugh at myself and actually enjoy it. That is good! By the way I live in Lake Tahoe too 🙂 PS. I find myself rolling the items that won’t cooporate..is that cheating?

  4. My mother and I have the same argument. She LOVES to hold onto completely useless junk and it drives me up the wall. I wouldn’t actually throw things away without asking her, but I sure am tempted to…

  5. Scarves are the best! I have almost as many scarves as you have socks. And I have two pairs of socks total, no lie. I hate wearing socks and will only do so when exercising to keep my sneakers from getting stinky. It’s tough to tell my daughter that she has to wear socks to school when I hate them soooo much! 😉

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