Tidying Up With…Me! (Sort of)

School was cancelled three out of the five days last week because of snow or sub-zero temperatures. Instead of washing work pants by the end of the week, I had to wash sweatpants. I was running out of sweatpants. This is either very awesome or very pathetic, but I like to be an optimist.

Plus, I may have been in sweatpants, but I was productive. One evening I watched an episode of that Marie Kondo show on Netflix simply because everyone is talking about it. Then I rushed upstairs and folded a shirt into a tiny rectangle. The following conversation happened:

Me: Andy, look. I have mastered this new way to fold shirts. Our life is about to be REVOLUTIONIZED!

Andy: *blank stare* Uhh…all because you found a new way to fold?

Me: Yes. Because we’re going to become tidy, and it will magically fix everything in our lives. But we can only keep the things that spark joy.

Andy: Dang. Think I’ll make the cut?

Me: Probably.

Andy: How about this work uniform? I have no joy at all when I hold this. So…throw it out?

Me: Oh my gosh you are missing the point. It’s like, do you actually need SEVEN orange jackets?

Andy: Do you actually need an entire wall of books?

Me: *runs to my bookshelves as if I can hug them all at once* Ack! Don’t touch my books! I need every one! Does it have pages? Then JOY JOY JOY! Look, I need every book. What would I do without… *pulls a book off the shelf at random* What the heck? What’s bugami? Why do we have this book?

Andy: I have no idea. It’s your book.

Me: Of…course it is! Because… *flips through it furiously*…it’s about… AH HA! It’s about how to make bugs out of origami. Which I clearly need. And look at all the pretty origami paper!

Andy: *eyebrows raised, smirking* Our lives are about to be revolutionized, huh?

Me: Well, yes. On everything except books. Because I’m sorry, that chick is not making me get rid of books. If she comes in here and tries, she only weighs like fifty pounds. I could literally throw her out.

SO. That’s about how long the Marie Kondo method worked out for us. It did inspire me to start tidying, though, and now my closet is color coded. Check out this Roy G. Biv situation:


I also got rid of a bunch of old clothes and kitchen items that we don’t need. (That’s right, Marie – I skipped right over the step where I was supposed to get rid of books. Forget skip, actually – I FROLICKED past that mofo. And gave it the finger).

Anyway, would you like to guess how many mugs we owned before this week? GUESS.

Did you guess? No peeking.

Okay, time’s up. Ninety-one. NINETY-ONE MUGS. Wtf. Why on earth do two people need ninety-one mugs?! In my defense, I’ve been teaching for nine years. Whoever’s selling teacher mugs is making big bucks, because it’s the #1 gift I get from students. Also, my husband collects mugs from the cool places we travel, so now people get him mugs too (because they think he’s a “mug guy,” and I don’t know what that says about him. Is that good? What else would he be? A teacup guy? A styrofoam guy? I guess there are worse things).

I called Andy at work and asked him to guess how many mugs we have. He said twenty-four. Oh Andy, you unenlightened rube. You haven’t watched one episode of Tidying Up With Marie Kondo like I have. I informed him that we could each drink out of a new mug every day for a month and a half without repeating. I expected him to gasp in horror, but instead he said, “Cool!” Like we’ve unlocked some secret luxury by ridding ourselves the need to wash mugs more than ten times a year (ew). I tried to explain that he was missing the point (again), and that our new, REVOLUTIONIZED lives were so minimalist that we don’t need ninety-one mugs (BECAUSE NO ONE DOES). The point is that we could get rid of most of them and then have plenty of space in our cabinets. Do you know what he said?


He said what’s the point of cabinet space if you don’t put things in your cabinets?

Well, I had no comeback for that, so instead I used my tried-and-true deflection technique:

“Andy. You own a mug of an ape where the handle of the mug is the ape’s arm reaching up to scratch his head. Would you like to grab an ape’s armpit every morning? Would you? They throw poop, Andy. We don’t need an ape mug.”


When he got home, he did admit that he’s never seen that mug. I have a new theory that we had a totally normal amount of mugs a while back, but then two mugs started reproducing, and none of this is our fault. We’re on, like, the fifth generation of mugs that have started popping up in our cabinets. If I had to put my money on the original culprits, it would probably be the “his” and “hers” mugs. They were always hanging out together, and the lips painted on her look positively voluptuous. I am now officially blaming these mugs.


Plus, now we’ve tidied. Guess how many mugs we own now?

Uh…I didn’t count. But a way more acceptable number of mugs, that’s how many!

Andy hopes I go back to school next week, or I’ll just keep bagging stuff and taking it to Goodwill (he’s not wrong). It feels so…productive. Like shopping, but in reverse. Because you get all of this new space, and you find things you forgot you had, and your life feels more in order. All for free!

I used to have this junk drawer in my kitchen, you know? When people would come over they’d be all, “Oh look, what a nice kitchen!” But I would know about the mess lurking everywhere. Want to see my junk drawer now?

Nope, you don’t. Because I haven’t touched it yet. Marie Kondo herself would probably run away screaming if she saw that drawer. She would say, “This coupon expired in 2012. You bought this house in 2015. WHY DID YOU SOMEHOW MOVE AN EXPIRED COUPON?! You’re hopeless. Beyond my help. I will traipse my adorable skirt elsewhere.” She would cast a disgusted glance at my bookshelves on her way out, but I’d be standing by my mug cabinet, all proud. I would say, “Thanks for your time, Marie. Here, have an ape mug as a token of my appreciation.”

Whatever. Scroll back up to the top of this post where you were all impressed by my color-coded closet, okay? Then hope for Andy’s sake that I go back to school next week.

4 thoughts on “Tidying Up With…Me! (Sort of)

  1. Ken’s a real hoarder, and when we were cleaning the attic out the other day, I discovered boxes of his schoolwork from Grades 1 through 13. It was insane, and the worst part was that he insisted on going through it all and “capturing it digitally” before agreeing to throw it away. Yes, he took photographs of every single piece of paper.


  2. Well, I love the monkey mug. I also love the idea of mugs spawning new mugs.

    I’m pretty sure you’re allowed to keep anything that sparks joy. So if all your books spark joy, you are allowed to keep all your books and you have still officially tidied your books.


  3. I love Marie Kondo. My mom can’t get on board, because she does not understand the concept of sparking joy. Like, seriously, she has hundreds of pieces of pottery (mostly Haeger) which she collected over the past couple of years and she believes they all spark joy while simultaneously admitting she finds some of them ugly and that there’s nothing special about the plain vases. Well then why the bleepity blank does she still have them? Why did she even get them in the first place?

    I am tackling my cleaning spree in mid-May, when I have a few months off between undergrad commencement and the start of grad school. I may do a bit before then when I’m procrastinating on stuff I should actually do, but at least that’s me being productive while I procrastinate.


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