Reality TV Time: Tidying Up with Marie Kondo

Let me ask you a question: Do you know about Marie Kondo?

Of course you do! Everyone does! The whole world has gone Kondo Krazy. I don’t know about you, but my Instagram and Feedly feed is brimming with images and posts and videos of neatly folded clothing, scaled down closets and piles of “komono” to be sold, donated or thrown out.

KonMari, or the art of tidying and organizing, originated with Marie Kondo’s 2014 book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” I never read it, but I heard about it and understood the premise: Uncluttering by going through all of your possessions in the five main categories and deciding if the item “sparks joy.” If it does, it stays. If not, thank it and let it go. Like, forever.

KonMari is back in the consciousness and our Instagram feeds for two main reasons: 1) New Year’s Eve resolutions and 2) in a moment of pure marketing genius, Netflix released the first season of its show, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.” And, here’s the genius part: they released it on New Year’s Day, right when everyone was itching to tackle those resolutions to unclutter but still wanted to procrastinate a little bit longer by binge watching a show about uncluttering.

I have a third theory about why we’re all obsessed with purging and organizing right now which is this: the world feels completely out of control, so we want to control something, anything. Our own home environment is a place where we can start and feel some sense of control and order in the midst of all the chaos.

Now, I wouldn’t say I’m a full-on minimalist, but I’m a notorious purger. In fact, I’ve actually thrown away perfectly good money (albeit, on accident). Just saying: I am pretty ruthless. (I also accidentally threw away a box of jewelry once during a move. Mostly sentimental stuff, but still. Gone. I didn’t even turn the car around to go through the dumpster to look for it. I know full well that the Kondo Krazies can have unintended consequences, as this Georgia family also knows.)  KonMari with Kare, y’all.

Anyway, the point is I really don’t get too attached to stuff. I donate and get rid of items on a constant basis. This was especially true after consciously uncoupling from my office job. I donated so. Many. Clothes. Bags and bags of office-appropriate suits, blazers, skirts, pants, sweaters, work tops, belts and shoes went to our local Goodwill. I didn’t even bother to try to sell or consign stuff. I just wanted it all out.

Konmari’ed House

I also secretly dream that in another life I was probably a professional organizer. I love to organize and bring order to some chaos. And literally, everyone is talking about this show. Even my manicurist when I got my nails done recently was gushing about it. So, of course, I watched.

Dear reader, I could only take about 20 minutes of the first episode before I started to feel all itchy and annoyed.

The best way I can describe it is: “Hoarders” meets “Super Nanny” with a dash of some therapy thrown in. Because, like in the vein of other redemptive-themed reality shows like “Hell’s Kitchen” or “Bar Rescue,” Marie Kondo isn’t just there to help people declutter and clean. No, no, no. She’s also there to help save the family relationships. Through the magic of tidying up, of course.

So just like in “Super Nanny” where Joe the Nanny would be brought in to ostensibly help discipline the kids, the real lesson is that the parents are the ones who need help in learning how to be a parent. (On a related note, here’s a very interesting article in how the show is exposing gender biases, ie: society expects women to be the home/memory keepers and women feel they are overwhelmed and failing. Very fascinating.)

Back to the show: The first episode featured the very telegenic Friend family, who, quite honestly, had a very nice home. Obviously, the very telegenic mom probably had too many clothes but not a totally unmanageable or unreasonable amount, in my opinion. And yes, the kitchen was definitely a bit of a disaster (I mean, who doesn’t throw away leftovers before the TV crew shows up?).

Oh girl. You about to get some.

No, what bothered me about the Friends wasn’t the “mess” but just were how needy they appeared. They kept trying to get Marie Kondo to validate that they weren’t that bad and begging her to confirm that sometimes, she’s disorganized, too, and they were just normal people who have to hire someone to come and fold their laundry for them. Honey, if you weren’t that bad, our little Kondo sprite friend wouldn’t be there.

Also, y’all do know that Ms. Kondo is shilling products, right? She’s got her own line of boxes that she’s selling for $89. For boxes. That she displays/product places all over the show. Listen my little organizers: if you are looking for boxes, I got ’em. I get fresh new boxes almost every damn day from Amazon (catkid items) or Sephora (Poe goods). They may not be as cute and pastel as those Kondo boxes, but I’d be willing to sell them to you for a deeply discounted price of $80 per set.

I set “Tidying Up” aside and went back to it a couple of weeks later. I finally got through the rest of the Friend’s episode (and their embarrassing comment about how tidying up has improved their sex life) and went to the next one, which were these empty nesters, the Akiyamas.

That was it for me. They had so, so much stuff. It was insane. Mrs. Akiyama had clothes stuffed in like, four different bedroom closets and Mr. Akiyama had a whole wall of boxes of baseball cards piled precariously on top of each other in the master bedroom. And the Christmas decorations. I just could not. Watching the teeny tiny Marie Kondo skip over the dangerous piles of crap while giggling gave me hives.

I managed to watch it all the way through and guess what? The Empty Nesters did get rid of a TON of stuff, but they still kept a TON of stuff! The closets were still full and boxes and boxes of stuff still lined the walls all over their house.

Oh, and while clearing out, they found a whole collection of these little Japanese dolls (probably like, 100 of them) and they decided those (THE WHOLE COLLECTION) “sparked joy” and they were going to keep them and display them. In their garage. No doubt, these antique dolls were beautiful, but the whole collection? In the garage? It was too much for me.

While our blessed saint of organization Marie Kondo is totally and completely judgement free in the face of incredible mounds of acquired (and even newly discovered) crap, I find that I am not. I can’t help but judge and I was judging. Harshly.

I had to give up on Netflix’s Tidying Up. I’m turning it off and going back to RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 4, which is messy, messy, messy in all the best ways.

Love/hate me some Valentina!

Wait, You Didn’t Spend President’s Day Looking for a Mystery Stench?

I love all the lesser federal holidays. You know, like Columbus Day and Veteran’s Day and MLK Day and President’s Day and Flag Day. Ok, that last one is not a federal holiday, but it should be.

Since I live in DC, my company follows the federal holiday schedule and that means random Mondays off about once a month. It’s awesome. You get to sleep in, maybe go shopping, have a nice lunch, maybe have a little daytime wine at lunch.

But since I’m an idiot, I scheduled work on President’s Day. So, I dragged myself to my deserted office for the scheduled 10 am phone interview I had set up with the hard-working owners of a company that was not off for President’s Day, apparently.

I worked for a couple of hours and then rode the lonely metro back home. I stopped by a wine bar on the way home so I could at the very least get my daytime wine on.

I had big plans to go to the gym, but when I got home, there was an entirely different workout awaiting me. Our kitchen stinks. It stinks in a way that is, quite frankly, impossible to ignore and definitely embarrassing.

Even more embarrassing is that we noticed it a day or two ago, right before a not-so-surprise birthday party XFE threw for me on Saturday. Sidenote about the birthday party: It. Was. Awesome.

There were two briskets cooked on the Big Green Egg, shark tattoos, a plastic tiara, TWO types of birthday cake (chocolate and red velvet – decorated with plastic sharks, of course), and some sort of alcohol called “Or-G.” I dunno what it is or what it does but it came in a very pretty bottle.

Did I mention that there were shark tattoos? This one is eating my earring!

That would be a cake. Decorated with sharks.


A shark about to eat Suzanne's bracelet. Man, these sharks really like jewelry.

That would be me, about to dominate that shark cake. And it's 40 stupid candles. Don't worry. I got them all.

It was a lot of fun and I did not lift one single finger. XFE did everything from cooking to lighting candles once it got dark to cleaning up before we went to bed. It was the best kind of party. He even mopped the kitchen the next day while I went shopping with my special surprise out-of-town guest Emilia (seen above with the blue iphone).

If I could clone him, I’d make a fortune.

Anyway, back to the smell. Ladies and gentlemen of the Internet, I do not know how to describe this smell. It is nothing short of rancid. It smells like something that might have once been alive but clearly is no longer. It smells like incredibly expensive cheese.

And we cannot figure out from where it’s originating. We were fairly certain it was from the fridge, but we went through the day of the party, and there was almost nothing in there that would have caused any stench because everything is either in a closed container or processed within an inch of its life.

So we thought it must be something festering under the shelves or under the containers just out of eye (but not nose) sight.

We shrugged and considered it our personal protection device for our prized Shiner Bock collection in the bottom drawer of the fridge.

Today when I got home I couldn’t stand it anymore. I dismantled the entire refrigerator, all the shelves, all the sliding drawers, all the hanging drawers on the door. I inspected suspiciously old condiments (including an impressive collection of Asian marinades and a 34 ounce bottle of ginger dressing from Costco that says it doesn’t expire until July, but honestly, who knows). I sniffed containers of individually wrapped wedges of Laughing Cow cheese. I peered into jars of banana peppers and pickles.

Nothing. Nothing was leaking. There were no suspicious puddles of brown liquid to be found pooling under the crisper drawers. I have no idea where the smell is coming from.

I guess since I got them all out, I might as well clean them.

When XFE got home, I even had him pull out the fridge to see if something had rolled underneath. Then I had him pull out the trash compactor to see if something had gotten trapped under there. Nothing. This is going to make me crazy, guaranteed.

On a positive note, in the haze of spraying Fantastic all over the fridge and thinking I needed to try to use the Swiffer under the fridge as well, I ended up Swiffering under our bed upstairs and amidst an alarming pile of cat hair and dander (I’m surprised we’re not coughing up furballs), I found a crisp $1 bill.

Our maid really should take some heed and start Swiffering under that, not just because, oh, I don’t know, we pay her to clean our house, but because, apparently, we also stash money under the bed.

Oh, look who else came to the birthday party. A Vosges Mo's sample pack. Welcome. Now get in my belly.