I am not a joiner and as such generally am too detached (lazy) to suffer FOMO. This is why you will not find me participating in the latest shit collectively stirred up on the internet. Birdbox…yeah, even as a devoted Sandra Bullock fan, I’m sitting this one out. Gillette Toxic Masculinity ad…haven’t seen it.
I am also not what you’d call a tidy person. I don’t love my clutter, but I learned to live within it. Though, occasionally, I have been known to make a half-hearted stab at improving my surroundings. There were a couple years were I went full-on Fly Lady for up to at least a month at a time. But generally, as long as I move house every decade and quarterly need to ransack my desk or nightstand for an important document, gift card, passport, or some other misplaced suddenly important item, I will keep myself out of contention for hoarders.
You know where I’m going with this, right? Tidying up with Marie Kondo.
Going into the series the only real facts, mostly garnered from eavesdropping on conversations during my morning Starbucks line, was that Marie Kondo has been, for some time apparently, the organizing It Girl. She’s a best-selling author, she does this origami fold-y thing to clothes to optimize space, she is way into little boxes, and in her KonMari method of tidying up your home she wants you to only keep what “sparks joy.”
There was also that mid-week social media shit storm surrounding my bookish acquaintances throwing down a biblio-fatwa against the adorable girl with the bangs and an opposing faction calling them out as racist and classist for willfully not understanding her twee-fully helpful intentions. But, I didn’t read any of the click bait my crazy internet people posted one way or the other, so I went into the series controversy blind. (If I’m going to hate-on a person from TV, it’s going to be on my own terms).
Whatever I thought I might be getting myself into, it was not even close.
Tuesday, 11:03 pm. I hit play willing to invest 47 minutes and 41 seconds into Episode One. Here is my breakdown of the first minute.
0:20: Is she a real live anime character? Is that racially insensitive for me to think? But this can’t be real.
0:24: She can’t be real.
0:30: Is Marie speaking Japanese? Do I have read subtitles? No one said there would reading involved. She was speaking English in the opening. This is crazy. And what’s this Komono? How is kitchen and garage and everything miscellaneous even legitimately in the same category? Does it stem from “Opening the Komono and letting all your bits fly out?” (Yeah, I know a kimono is a different thing. But I’m a bad speller, and obviously an ignorant American clueless about Japanese culture. Except for Gwen Stefani. Again totally kidding. Is this how backlashes start?)
1:00: People are crying over their stuff. Well, now we’re talking.
In the first episode we meet The Friend Family of Lakewood, CA. We also meet Marie Iida who is the interpreter (it was her speaking English in the voice over).
This episode was problematic for a couple reasons, but mainly it’s because Kevin and Rachel sparked disgust in me. Initially, this was just because they named their son Jaxon, but then it carried over into their overall crappy parenting. Oh, yes, I went there. As a former mom of two kids that age, I can straight out judge. Yeah, I hired someone to come fold my laundry too, but I would have never allowed my toddlers to just interrupt and take over while I was talking to other adults. Especially if it was on camera! And when the kid was walking up and asking for the boob…oh hell no! Maybe it’s time for Ryan to learn to get her own sippy cup if she’s thirsty. Yeah, I went there. Come at me breastfeeding fascists. Seriously, you have all the right to feed your kid with your tit whenever, where ever, but you share that while you are being filmed on TV and Marie’s trying to thank your house and I get to roll my eyes at you. I hate these people.
Lots of fast forwarding ensued, and I was on a countdown to my one episode commitment.
34:23 remaining: OMG, I might not get through this.
31:31 remaining: Clothing in a big pile. I’ve seen this/read things on every declutter thing ever. Hold each item. See what sparks joy. You know what sparks joy? Marie! I don’t even have to pick her up to be sure of it.
Though isn’t it sad that she has to explain to us what joy feels like.
Talk to your clothes and thank them when you fold them. I can’t.
23 long-ass minutes remaining: Jaxon chugging coffee. No I really can’t.
But then I did. I kept watching and was rewarded by much better families. And more diverse families! Casting rocked it, not just because they showcased a full variety of flavor combinations, but because they all had compelling personal, yet universal, stories.
Part way into Episode 5, right before Marie thanked Frank and Matt’s West Hollywood house, I drifted off to sleep wondering how high my mountain of clothes would be. Wondering if I could skirt the rules at all by going room by room.
The next day, I found myself daydreaming about Marie Kondo at work. I was looking at the items on my desk, picking them up, holding them, trying to feel their joy. But it’s hard to spark joy at work. I wanted to start feeling up my things at home for joy. I want to start thanking and tossing my things.
Instead, I watched the rest of Episode 5 on my iPad during lunch. And cried when Frank’s parents expressed their pride in their son for who he was, not because his home was in order.
I imagined enlisting my whole family into the process of tidying up our house. Imagined all the things we could get rid of. Imagined how happy we would compartmentalizing our few remaining possessions into happy little boxes.
Of course, when I got home, I wasn’t as enthusiastic about tackling my house. I did, however, sit in bed and watch the rest of the season. But when I finished, around 9:30, I was motivated to take on the right side of my dresser (t-shirts and shorts). And hot damn if the folding didn’t turn out to be fun just like Marie said it would be. I even managed to fold some of the clean laundry piling up on our guest room couch. It was more like an art project than a chore. Though she denies it, I think that alone proves that Marie is magic.
Come back next week to see how I fare in enlisting my family into KonMari over the three-day weekend.