The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Tidying Up Book.jpgClutter is a part of my life. Always has been, probably always will be. I tend to rationalize it, as in I tell myself I’m smart enough not to waste time on unnecessary cleaning. And there is some science to back me up on this. See article here: https://curiousmindmagazine.com/science-says-highly-intelligent-people-messy-profane-night-owls/

So it’s funny that I’ve been wanting to read Marie Kondo’s THE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP since I first heard of it some years back. Fast forward to about a month ago, I happened to remember the book while searching for a different book at the public library. I put my name on the wait list, and it arrived the other day. (Side note: It’s impressive that there is still a wait list for this book more than two years after publication.)

Books have a way of entering your life at the right time, and Kondo’s is no exception. Lately, I’ve been telling myself I need to get ready for a move, even though I have no idea when or how that will be. I haven’t really wanted to leave Albuquerque. I love the area. The great food, the Sandia Mountains to the east, the volcanoes to the west. It’s just beautiful here. But I need a better job. And I haven’t been making much progress on sending out my memoir. Albuquerque’s been feeling less like home.

Kondo’s method involves chucking anything you own that doesn’t “spark joy.” When I started sorting my clothes first like she recommends, I didn’t think I’d have much to get rid of, and in the scheme of things, I didn’t—certainly not trash bags full like some of her clients. But I did find clothes that I’d force myself to wear in spite of feeling frumpy and old in them. She’s right. Trashing these materials is actually freeing. It’s like a tamer form of Chuck Palahniuk’s blow-up-your-apartment-and-leave method. It feels better to wear something you like and are comfortable in, even if it means wearing the same outfit frequently. While I can’t get rid of every piece of clothing that doesn’t spark joy, a certain income is required for that, I’m more conscious of the clothes I still have.

Over these last days, I’ve been culling more and more stuff, and it’s sorta addicting. Like, what can I get rid of next?!? But then this morning, I noticed a calendar I hung above my writing desk and stopped. My dad’s calendar. It’s one of those free calendars you get in the mail from the Nature Conservancy. I took it from his desk a couple of nights before his funeral. I wanted something of his to hold onto, I told myself, but I think now I was literally trying to stop time. When I hung it up in my apartment, I declared I wouldn’t take it down until I moved out of the city. That’s a lot of mental baggage to hang on yourself, and I realized it needed to go.

But I couldn’t do it.

So I stared at it throughout the day, giving it the beady eye. When I finally took it down this evening, I could feel the frown on my face as I held it. The constriction in my chest. And I missed my father again. I placed it on a chair next to the trash first, and then finally in the trash. Time has moved on. And so must I.

The whole point of this discarding extravaganza is that by ridding yourself of things that don’t make you happy or “spark joy”  you bring about the things you really do want. Hm. An actual writing career? A better paying job? Kondo’s got her work cut out for her. Or, really, I do since she never actually does the sorting for her clients.

Next up on my discard pile: Socks. I have about 30 mismatched pairs. Time to rectify that.

 

 

On Deserving the Purple Chair

I have a new purple chair, which is really an old purple chair, a hand-me-down from a neighbor. She tells me the chair is from a hotel in town, though she doesn’t know which one. It’s a swayback (I think) with those long unfurling arms, and it is incredibly comfortable. The neighbor just says, “Good lumbar support.” I’d agree.

Here’s a picture. I cropped it as close as possible—my apartment is in a STATE right now. As you can probably see, the chair is worn. A lot of tushes have sat in that seat, I’d bet, if what my neighbor said is true.Purple Chair (1)

About fifty eclectic people call my apartment complex home. We’re joined together by a landlord who generally picks tenants who are quiet and stable. A good thing. There are college students, the middle-aged, lots of single hermetic types, (myself?!) and a few older, closer-to-retired-than-not folks. It’s a quiet place, rare for Albuquerque, and even rarer for complexes in general. On the whole, it’s been a good place to live these last four years, though I find myself wanting to leave now for the first time since I moved here. But that’s another post.

A fair number of people in the complex know who I am, and I tend to get a lot of offers for furniture castoffs from neighbors who are moving or redecorating, including the table I’m writing on. (Which is originally from Neil Patrick Harris’s family restaurant in New Mexico before it closed. Provenance!) Sometimes these offers are great, like the chair and table. Other times they’re annoying. When I’ve been offered clearly used mattresses and frames, broken down TVs, electronic gadgets that don’t work, I think, really? What universe made you think I’d dispose of your trash for you?

But my neighbors really know me for my cat, Vincent. Vinny Walking (1)

Vincent and I stroll the neighborhood, aka, the apartment complex courtyard, together most days. Vinny has had a lot of health problems, which my neighbors ask about. He’s in renal failure and we do subq fluids twice a day. When he doesn’t show up in the courtyard for a few days in a row, people worry, ask if he’s all right. And that’s nice. Vinny likes it too.

The thing is: My cat loves people. He has the brain of a cat, but the heart of a dog, and he always tries to walk with whomever comes and goes. When someone ignores him, I admit it, I judge. There’s one guy who always pays Vinny all sorts of attention when his girlfriend is around and then whizzes on past when he’s without her, breaking my little guy’s heart.

At any rate, because people often think of me when moving, I have quite a mismatch of furniture that fits my lifestyle right now. In addition to the chair and table, I have a cornflower blue loveseat with white snowflakes, and a weird 1975 vinyl chair and table set. (Want it? I hope to sell it. It was made by Madison Industries in Kansas, MS. The same place that made Kirk’s captain chair all those years ago.)

And though I am seated on the purple chair as I type this post, the chair is already more Vinny’s than mine. He often jumps up while I’m trying to read and worms behind me, effectively pushing me off.

He looks like this afterwards:purple chair cat.jpg

But I don’t mind. I think to love a cat is to love that part of its personality that owns you. That owns the chair. That owns the simple love of a good life, and an expectation that the good stuff should be yours. A cat knows to deserve the purple chair.