My closet could indeed use some magic

sad_dogI hesitated for just a moment recently before posting a Facebook photo of my dog cowering in the closet during a thunderstorm. Just for a second. It was a really cute picture.

There she was, my little, brown dog, apparently anxious about the cacophony happening just outside. Or that’s how I played it off on social media. Actually, given the fact that she was in my closet, she could have been just as distressed to realize she was in imminent danger of being crushed by falling shoes.

Forget thunder, that freaking closet is the stuff of nightmares.

Oh my God, you guys, the clutter bomb of my life is making me INSANE. And I work from home, so all day long I’m surrounded by some combination of laundry, books and papers, dog toys, kids and dishes and dust and it has reached a point where it’s generating a constant low, steady hum. Always there, creating anxiety that could be released at any moment on my unsuspecting loved ones. Really, anyone who comes within in arm’s reach at the wrong moment is danger of getting stabbed with a ballpoint pen.

I have a quick enough temper, but I’m not normally known for employing writing utensils as weapons.

I came across a tidbit on a blog somewhere about Marie Kondo’s book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up – a title that would normally inspire a wave of other similarly over-dramatic book themes, like Change Your Hair Part, and Unleash Your Destiny, or The Tau of Double-Stick Tape.

I make fun, but I’m seriously in a place right now where I totally get how an overflowing closet can inspire fits of rage; how just the thought of wedging one more blouse on a hanger in with all the other crap on the sagging rack could make me collapse into a depressed puddle on the bedroom floor. So it’s not terribly hard to believe the converse could be uplifting.

I’m in a drama-inducing clutter spiral and need to do something about it.

After looking up Kondo’s book in our local library and adding my name to the hundreds on the wait list, I decided I would have to add her tome to my personal collection, the irony of adding another book to my stack in this era of too much crap in my life not being lost on me.

At the very least for my fifteen bucks, I’d have something to blog about.

So I bought the book and scanned it for tips, but the KonMari method, as it’s been coined, is no quick fix. Just like my clutter bomb has taken the better part of the last decade to be assembled, so it is going to take a little time to diffuse. Bummer.

The first task on my list, Marie says, is to visualize an uncluttered life.

… Or in my case, imagine what it’s going to be like to not have to tamp down the urge to set fire to my closet every morning after a fruitless, minutes-long search for a missing flip-flop. Hang on a second while I conjure up an image of Julie Andrews singing while wrapping herself in curtains.

The next step is to choose a category, rather than go drawer by drawer, or room or closet. Clothing’s a great category to start with because it presents a path of least resistance – our emotional investment in clothing apparently representing the lowest rung on the attachment ladder. Interesting, since in my case, my closet fuels the most intense anxieties I have about what I imagine to be my latent hoarding tendencies.

The next step is to dive in, all at once, emptying out every drawer, room, closet and bin of every stitch of clothing (or whatever category you’re tackling) in the house. Anything left out of this process to be automatically consigned to the discard pile.

This is where my life-changing magic tidying moment came to an abrupt halt.

This would be no twenty-minute endeavor in which I finally come to terms with the fact that I will never, ever wear that cute, wool miniskirt I bought at the consignment shop years ago for two dollars (there being very little call for a grown-ass, professional woman to wear something that might be better suited for an American Apparel magazine spread), or those white skinny jeans that will never, ever look on me like they did on the mannequin.

So, at least for the time being, I stopped. In order to give this a real try, I’m going to need at least a full day, if not a weekend. Maybe more.

For now, the hootchie-mama wool mini skirt and skinny jeans remain securely wedged in my pathetically overstocked closet. The missing flip-flop is still missing, and I am calendaring in a day in the not too distant future where I’ll be temporarily buried in a mountain of clothing on my living room floor, dutifully laying hands on each and every individual item to see if it inspires enough joy to warrant a space on the rack or in the drawer.

Until that time, I would like to state for the record (and for the benefit of any insurance claims adjustors who might be reading this blog), that I haven’t the slightest intention of actually setting fire to my closet.

I’m not even sure if I could find a book of matches in this mess.


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  1. Oh, your poor sweet little doggie! My poor dog hates thunderstorms and fireworks so much. He also freaks out every time we get a package at the door too…he\’s afraid of the bubble wrap and packaging! Ha ha.

    My poor closet and entire house need a complete overhaul. It is scary!!!!

  2. Beware of categories that you think will only take a few hours. It still took a full day for some of it. I still don\’t feel like I\’m finished decluttering my house. Damn you, Marie Kondo. But I must say I have kept my clothes neat, but not counting the piles of dirty clothes that still manage to form in the closet of course.

  3. Hi Beth,
    I hope you\’ll post in the future with the results of your efforts. I\’m genuinely interested to know if the KonMari method actually works. I can imagine getting rid of most of my clothes. so that wouldn\’t be a problem. Getting rid of my books would be much harder, though, especially the intellectual-looking ones that I put in highly visible bookshelves in case anyone ever visits the house.

    Two other thoughts:

    That really is a super cute picture of your dog. Seriously!

    \”Change Your Hair Part, and Unleash Your Destiny\” is an awesome title for a book. I hope you don\’t mind if I borrow it. I\’ve been sketching out ideas for the first few chapters.

    1. Actually, this blog was supposed to be a before/after blog, until I realized I couldn\’t change my life with the magic of tidying up in the 20 minutes I had allotted to this task. Go figure. So, it\’ll be a two- or three-parter.

      And thanks for the comment on the picture. She\’s all kinds of expressive.

      As for the book title, be sure to mention me in the acknowledgements!

  4. Tell me about it! I\’m moving countries next week and renting my apartment out – yesterday I got into a sudden panic about the sheer amount of crap I somehow have to transport across the North Sea, and I went around randomly emptying drawers into bin bags. I have no idea what I threw out. I suspect I probably need at least some of it. I\’m not even sorry.

    1. Oh, moving would be a nightmare for us. We moved into this house 12+ years ago and I\’m pretty sure there are boxes in that closet I haven\’t even unpacked from the last house yet.

  5. I actually checked the book out of the library and got as far as Kon Mari-ing my clothes. It has been an amazing transformation, I have to admit. My closet is half empty now that I threw out all of the clothes that I never wear (or were stained, faded, etc.)

    Maybe some day I\’ll have time and energy to tackle some other space, but for right now I\’m resting on my closet laurels.