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[personal profile] dynamite_lady
I had a look at the free sample of Marie Kondo's book, 'The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying (Up)'. (The up is in brackets as it doesn't appear on some editions - I'm happy to leave it out, since while 'tidying' raises my hackles a little, 'tidying *up*' induces mild to moderate panic for various reasons.)

The background for this is that, to a great extent, I am intrinsically somewhat untidy. Firstly because 'tidying' is a massive category, containing hundreds of thousands of possible millions of subcategories and the way my brain functions (or doesn't) means I am bound to miss one or two of those, and the best I can do is live with this and not get ALL THE ANXIETY about it. Which means that for a long time I was less anxious about living in a complete tip where I could only move across the small parts of the room where I'd cleared a path than about trying to tackle the mess. (Suffice to say, in no instance has this made moving house more fun) It's only in the last few years that tiplike living conditions have started to make me sad. Secondly, because (with the exceptions of the smelly or dangerous sort) leaving messes untidied bothers me considerably less than leaving certain other tasks undone. Thirdly, I have hoarder-like tendencies that reached their peak a couple of years ago when I finally decided to reverse the trend. I no longer have class registers from three jobs ago or notes from my least favourite undergraduate modules in my possession. Books I don't enjoy reading get released back into the wild so someone with different tastes from me can find them. Shower gel gets finished, unless it is truly grim and then it gets binned. I buy one batch of my favourite usually-expensive thing on special offer, not ten. But, and this is a big enough BUT to impress Sir Mix-A-Lot, minimalism will never work for me and I have given up trying to force myself into that nearly-empty box.

The take-home point here is that I tidy better if I can avoid anxiety about it. I really wanted to look at Kondo's book and see the 'magic' she purports to work, find some inspiration - and, let's face it, make the next house move as un-ordeal-like as possible because things are already sorted before they need to be packed.

The first two pages, where she details her routine on coming home from work, made me suspect that we may not be compatible. She unpacks her handbag every day and puts everything away in its proper place. I unpack my handbag once a month or so, cull the receipts and vouchers and bus/train tickets and put the necessary stuff back. I thought for a bit about trying her routine, and realised that it would make my morning routine longer and open all sorts of windows for forgetting to take something vital out with me. On the other hand, my bag has a proper place - the bottom of the stairs - where I put it carefully on returning home. So I figured there was scope for adapting her method.

There is something strangely compelling about every item in your home having a place. Certainly I can see the appeal of an alternative to forcing as much storage into a place as possible and as much stuff into each storage unit. But, and I like big buts and I cannot lie, it starts to get mildly apocalyptic at this point. Because EVERYTHING COMES UNDONE the minute an OBJECT WITH NO PLACE takes up residence in a previously uncluttered place. This sounds rather like the attitude I grew up with and had to shake off for my own sanity. The idea that a, for example, hairband on the coffee table is a big deal and more of a threat to family harmony than making a fuss about the hairband being on the table because one's teenager forgot about having left it there. I can't deal with the kind of thinking that implies one out of place object is the end of the world.

Suffice to say, I didn't buy the book after reading the eighteen pages that are available on Kondo's website. If you've read beyond that, I'd be interested to hear what you think. In particular, if it gets less or more apocalyptic in tone after the first chapter.

August 2016

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