Showing posts with label Organizing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Organizing. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

How to Turn Your Undies into Origami or, Is There Joy To Be Had in Decluttering?

We Americans like fads and obsessions.  We have embraced everything from pet rocks to Tiny Tim to kale


If the success of Marie Kondo's books "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" and "Spark Joy: An illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up" is any indication, our latest obsession is that we can only be really happy through organizing, cleaning and folding our underwear so that it looks like origami.  Well, that's how I've broken it down.  It's actually a bit more than that.

But she tells us in no uncertain terms how we can never be happy if we live amidst clutter, and since her books are best-sellers, we seem to agree with her and let her order us around about it too. Remember that book "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother," where the author reprimanded us Westerners for coddling our children when in fact if we want them to succeed we should be so strict that we threaten to donate their toys to the Salvation Army if they don't play a piano piece perfectly and call them "garbage" when we are displeased?

Well, speaking of garbage, these books about tidying are a sort of "Tiger Mother" of organizing and how to deal with our real garbage.

And don't be confusing tidying and cleaning.  Tidying means you are dealing with your stuff.  Cleaning means you are dealing with DIRT!

Basically Kondo wants you to get rid of everything that does not give you joy - and I mean everything.

"Some people have told me that they had almost nothing left after discarding those things that didn't spark joy and, at first, didn't know what to do."

Well, yeah. If I went on the kind of purging frenzy she endorses, and when I was done everything was gone, I would feel confused too!

She has six basic rules for tidying:

1.  Commit yourself to tidying up

If I could imagine that, I would have done it.

2.  Imagine your ideal lifestyle

My ideal lifestyle is someone ELSE doing the tidying

3.  Finish discarding first

If this means I need to do my discarding first before I can tidy, I don't see tidy in my future.

4.  Tidy by category, not by location

Basically when you do the clothes, you are supposed to gather all of the clothes in the entire house and put them in one big pile.  If you were discouraged by your clutter before, imagine having to deal with a gigantic pile of clothes sitting in the middle of a room.  Remember that scene in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" where Richard Dreyfuss builds that mountain in his living room?

I think that mound of clothes would look something like that!

5.  Follow the right order

See what I mean about being ordered around?  We not only have to get rid of everything we have, we have to do it in order: clothes first, then books, papers miscellany and finally sentimental items. 

I would be stymied by starting with the clothes.

6.  Ask yourself if it sparks joy

And here is where she lost me. 

Well, she already lost me when she said I had to gather up all of the clothes in the house and put them in a heap, but now she says to raise the joy level of things we know we need, we need to talk to them: 

"Dear old screwdriver, I may not use you much, but when I need you, why, you're a genius." 

I guess she is letting us keep the screwdriver, but because it doesn't naturally "spark joy" on its own, we have to somehow imbue it with joy.

If I had to do that to everything in the house that I needed, I think I would go crazy. 

"Hey, toilet paper roll, thanks for always being there when I need you because when you're not and I have to hippity hop over to the cabinet with my pants down (and curse Hubby for not replacing the toilet roll), that's not fun"


"Half empty wine bottle, thank you.  I needed that."

We are also supposed to pack our drawers like a Japanese bento box.

Her four principles of storage are: fold it, stand it upright, store in one spot and divide your storage space into square compartments.  Fold clothes like origami - she basically wants you to fold your clothes so that everything is a tight little ball that you can stand upright.

Good luck with that.  I tried. Here is what mine looked like.

It's bad enough that she is shaming us into getting our houses in order, but then she has to add a psychological component: 

"tidying up means confronting yourself."

She says, "The responsibility for mess and clutter lies 100 percent with the individual.  Things do not multiply of their own accord, but only if you buy them or receive them from someone else.  Clutter accumulates when you fail to return objects to their designated place.  If a room becomes cluttered 'before you know it,' it is entirely your own doing."

Geez, and we willingly buy and read books that sound like our parents scolding us?

Kondo also asks, "What sparks joy for you personally?"

Well, it ain't decluttering and organizing, that's for sure.  More likely wine, a new outfit and losing 10 pounds. 

I think her rules are a bit extreme. I agree with Ralph Waldo Emerson when he said, "Moderation in all things including moderation."

So I have only a couple of organizing and decluttering principles that I live by:

It is important to have everything in its place so you can find it again. 
My Dad used to say, "Leave things where you find them." He expected to find the scissors in the drawer when he needed them and there was hell to pay if he found them in my bedroom.  I learned that lesson early on.  My Dad should have written this book.  He would have made a fortune.  So true to my upbringing, nothing makes me madder (well there are some other things) than something not being where it's supposed to be.  I mean, I may be retired, but my time is still valuable and there is hell to pay if I find the scissors in Hubby's office. So I definitely learned my lesson from my Dad - "Leave things where you find them."  Hubby does not live by that principle.

I also think a messy desk at work represents a messy mind.  How can you possibly think or even write anything down with crap all over your desk?  I can't, anyway.  Organizing and decluttering your desk can also be a work task that you can do when you are bored, but make you look like you are busy.

Don't leave your shoes where someone can trip over them and possibly die.

That's about it.

But to have to analyze every object in my life to decide whether it "sparks joy," to have to defend my TV or toilet's worth in my life is kind of nuts.

Does everything in our homes have to spark joy?

Some things might be in our lives as sad reminders of those we have lost. 

Some things are just comforting, like 75 carefully chosen jackets (hey, I can shop at home)!

And some things can't be explained, they just are...

And for you messy people out there. 

You know very well if you are messy, it's unlikely you are going to change now.  Messy probably works for you.  If you haven't minded dust balls under the bed or a bathtub ring before, you probably aren't going to change now.  And if you are a true hoarder, the kind where cat poop is under layers of old Life Magazines that you have had for over 40 years, then you don't need these books, you should seek professional help.

Why do we feel so insecure that we need a book to "sort us out," and why do we dwell on these superficial things? 

Who cares if my drawers are as neat as a bento box or my closets all have matching hangers or if I have stuff that I'm not sure why I have it?

So I question these little obsessions we get that come and go.  Cleaning and organizing now.  What's next?  Finding delight in dirt?

I am not immune to obsessions as you well know: reality TV, speaking correct English, collecting underpants with the days of the week on them (TMI?), dogs in costumes.  

But that aside...

Do we dwell on the superficial so we don't have to dwell on what scares us or is difficult?  Instead of spending time arranging our undies into a bento box, should we be spending our time improving our lives and the world in other ways?

If Kondo thinks we need to confront ourselves about tidying, I certainly think there are some other things we need to confront ourselves about and if we need obsessions, here are some I would like to see.

  • We become obsessed with voting at EVERY election so that we have a voice and don't suddenly find people in Congress who we can't figure out how they got there

  • We become obsessed with reading so we are an informed nation

  • We become obsessed with the importance of our public libraries because we realize they are the backbone of freedom of speech and we support them vigorously

  • We become obsessed with helping and being thoughtful of others instead of being so focused on ourselves

  • We become obsessed with being kind and realizing that everyone we meet is fighting a difficult battle (and I'm not talking about how hard it is to get your underwear into a bento box)!

Those are the kinds of obsessions where joy can be found.

I will let you add to that list.

In the meantime, I had better get to the library and return the "Spark Joy" book.  There are over 100 people waiting for it.

And when I get home I am going to imbue my television with joy and thank it for always being there when I need it and give some self esteem to my favorite chair when I plop down into it to watch "The View."

"Thank you chair, for your many hours of service!"


Thanks for Reading!
See you Friday
for my review of the new movie 


 The Week in Reviews
(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)

 and the latest on
"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before

 I Die Project."

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to click on the share buttons to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn, email it to your friends and LIKE me on Facebook at

Friday, March 25, 2016

"Hello, My Name is Doris" And the Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "Hello My Name is Doris" as well as the DVDs "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" and "Before We Go."  The Book of the Week is "Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up."  I also bring you up-to-date on "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with the documentary "The Act of Killing."]

Hello, My Name is Doris



Shy, socially awkward and sixty-something, Doris (Sally Field), is inspired to pursue a much younger man at her office after attending a self-help lecture.

Doris is a woman of a certain age who has never married and who has spent most of her life caring for her mother.  Now her mother has passed away and she is left alone in the house on Staten Island full of the stuff that she and her mother hoarded over the years.  Her brother, Todd (Stephen Root), escaped that fate, married and started a business, so now he and his wife, Cynthia (Wendi McLendon-Covey), want Doris to get rid of all of that stuff and sell the house.  But for hoarders, it's not that easy.  Doris is not just a hoarder.  She is also awkward and shy and socially stunted.

Doris travels into Manhattan every day for her job as an accountant in a clothing firm.  Since everyone else in the firm appears to be either millenials or hipsters, one couldn't help but wonder how sixtyish Doris, in her quirky retro clothes and perpetual bow in her hair, got a job there.  Thankfully, for people like me who wonder about things like that when watching a film, it is explained that she was grandfathered in when the new company took over.

Doris has her routine.  She has her cat, is seeing a shrink for her hoarding and hangs out with her friend, Roz (Tyne Daly - Remember "Cagney and Lacey?" - good to see her again).  One day in a crowded elevator at work she is crushed up against a handsome 30-ish young man who engages her and who turns out to be the new head of the art department at her work.  She is instantly smitten and imagines him ravaging her up against the wall (she reads a lot of those bodice rippers).  She may be socially stunted but she's not dead!

At a lecture led by self-help guru Willy Williams (Peter Gallagher, who has aged well, I might say), a proponent of positive thinking who throws out the usual aphorisms ("glass half empty, half full"), he tells Doris she is "possible."  Wearing her little "Hello, My Name is Doris" nametag, Doris decides that having a love affair with John (Max Greenfield), that new, much younger, guy at work, is possible and she sets out to win him over. 

Actually she stalks him.  She gets Roz's 13-year-old granddaughter (Isabella Acres) to set up a Facebook page with a fake name and fake picture (I thought we were going to set off into "Catfish" territory here) to friend him so she can learn more about him.  She learns that he likes a band called Baby Goya and goes to one of their concerts.  Roz's granddaughter told her that the proper dress for such a concert would be something neon so she puts together an outlandish outfit and her dream is realized.  John is there at the concert and they form a bond.

Now here is where the movie lost me.  The lead singer of Baby Goya, who I guess IS Baby Goya, spots Doris in the audience and invites her backstage where he asks her to pose for the cover of his new album because, I guess she is so outrageously uncool looking that she's actually cool.  It's a millennial thing, I guess.  And all of his millennial friends, displaying all of the worst sort of millennial interests, take her under their wing, and Doris starts enjoying the attention and this new lifestyle. Somehow I don't think that would happen, no matter how "cute" or even hip such folks would find a sixty-something woman.

But that aside, this is a story of hope and a woman who doesn't have much time left to live out her dreams.  I like the idea that Doris thinks she has a shot with John. At this point, she doesn't much care what other people think.  So, Doris, go for it!

Sally does a great job creating this character, though Doris can be irritating and juvenile at times, but then I think.  Can't we all?  Her performance is a comic tour de force that we haven't seen from an actress over 40 for a long time.  I'm glad she's back.  And thank you, Sally, for looking like your age, though you always had that baby face. She allows herself to be seen without make-up, and I don't see signs of plastic surgery or botox which sends a great message to younger actresses.  Let yourself age gracefully.

Directed by Michael Showalter and adapted from a short film called "Doris and the Intern" by Laura Terruso, it is refreshing to see a film starring a woman of a certain age.  We need more of these!  

Rosy the Reviewer says...Sally Field...I like you, I really like you!


***Some Movies You Might Have Missed***
(And Some You Will Be Glad You Did)!

Now Out on DVD

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015)

Yet another YA book about a young teenage girl with an incurable disease brought to the screen.

The film starts out with our hero saying, "Senior year of high school.  The worst year of my life and I made a film so bad it nearly killed someone."

Greg (Thomas Mann, no, not THAT Thomas Mann) is in his senior year of high school and has made it through by being invisible.  He identifies with no specific group - stoners, theatre kids, jocks - but rather straddles them all.  He has found a way to maintain relationsips with everyone.  He is neither popular nor unpopular but he is full of insecurities.

Greg's best friend is Earl (R.J. Cyler), and African-American kid who Greg says is more like his co-worker than friend, because they spend most of their time making parodies of movies - "Eyes Wide Butt," "My Dinner with Andre the Giant," "Death in Tennis."  Earl understands and says, "He hates calling people his friends. Dude's got issues."  Yes, Greg does. 

Instead of braving the social mores of the high school cafeteria, Greg and Earl eat lunch in the high school history teacher's office every day. There is a funny scene where Greg and Earl are eating lunch and wonder why the teacher is always eating soup.  They try some and get stoned.  Yikes, the teacher is a stoner!

Greg finds out that Rachel Kuchner (Olivia Cooke), a girl he knows, has leukemia.  His mother (Connie Britton) wants him to visit her because she thinks it would make her feel better.  I think it's kind of far-fetched that his mother would make him do that or that he would, but Greg is a good kid.

Molly Shannon plays Rachel's mother, one of those inappropriate mothers, who answers the door swinging a wine glass around and hugging teenage boys just a little too tightly.  Rachel doesn't want pity or to hang out with Greg, but he begs her and admits that his mother has made him do it - "If you don't let me hang out with you my mother will never let it go.  She is the Le Bron James of nagging."

But they hang out together and, turns out, Greg is quite funny and witty.  He amuses her and they form a bond. They share a love of foreign films.  Though his mother made him spend time with her, naturally their relationship morphs into a friendship, or what would be the point of this film, right?

Madison (Katherine Hughes), Rachel's friend, suggests that Greg and Earl make a film for Rachel.  Greg and Earl interview Rachel's friends and other students and Earl also forms a bond with Rachel. 

At the same time that we are dealing with Rachel's illness, we are dealing with the usual high school angst - fear of leaving home, fear of failure, fear of going to college. Greg is struggling. He gets depressed and his grades go down.  He has no date for the prom, he has a falling out with Earl and he gets rejected from college.  

But when Greg stops by the hospital to see Rachel and to show her the film he and Earl made, Greg is able to put his own problems into perspective. I mean, teenage angst vs. cancer?

One can't help but compare this to the recent "The Fault in our Stars," another YA book about a dying teenage girl brought to the screen.  But Alfonso Gomez-Rejon has directed an unsentimental story, adapted from his own book by Jesse Andrews, that shows us that peoples' lives continue to unfold after death - they live on via memories, deeds and what they left behind.  Gomez-Rejon uses animation to show Greg's perspective on life, which seems to be a hip device aimed at teens that was also in evidence in "Diary of a Teenage Girl" too.

Thomas Mann as Greg is a sweet, dorky presence who exudes charisma and Ryder is a nice foil and the rest of the cast are all first-rate.

I just wish the grammar here was better.  "Me and Earl?"  Bad English.  I never was able to break my teenage son of that.  "Me and Jimmy want to go to the movies, OK, Mom?"  Ugh.

Rosy the Reviewer says...despite the subject matter, an unsentimental coming of age story that rings true.  Watch it with your teens and see what they think.

Before We Go (2014)

A woman and a man meet cute at Grand Central Station.  He is busking and she misses her train after having her purse stolen in a bar.  He comes to her rescue and they spend the night together having adventures and forming an unlikely relationship.

Chris Evans, who if this film is any indication, looks like he wants to change his Captain America superhero image to a romantic lead, stars as Nick and Alice Eve is Brooke.

It is late at night and Brooke dashes by Nick in Grand Central Station.  She is distracted and agitated and it is revealed that her purse had been stolen in a bar and she has missed her train, the last one back to the 'burbs. To make matters worse, she drops her phone and breaks it.  Nick decides to help her even though at first she doesn't want him to. 

Brooke is married.  She tells Nick that she needs to get home before her husband does or her marriage is over.  So Nick says he will get her there.  Meanwhile, Nick also has a secret.  He was invited to a wedding reception where his ex-girlfriend will be, a girl we can tell he has not gotten over.

They spend the night walking around trying to figure out how to get Brooke home with no money.  They decide to go to that wedding and possibly borrow some money from someone. However, they go to the wrong wedding where they are mistaken for the band in a very far-fetched scene where they decide, OK, you think we are the band?  We'll go for it. Brooke sings accompanied by Nick and she is very good.  Of course she is.  But before they are discovered as imposters, the organizer of the wedding entertainment gives them a key for the "green room."  When they are discovered, they go to that room, order room service and talk about "room graffiti," where people draw things on the back of hotel paintings. Sure enough.  We look on the backs of the wall art and there are drawings on the back.  Is this really a thing?

The film has many "Huh?" moments like that one and another where they consult a psychic who tells them they don't need to pay him (huh?), but the two of them are an engaging couple.  Over the course of the night, the two reveal their stories and current circumstances.

This is one of those "strangers meet and walk around all night" stories. There is a decided "Before Sunrise" vibe as well as a dose of "Once," but without the music.  It's a sweet little talky movie starring two very beautiful people.  In fact, I never realized how handsome and charismatic Chris Evans is.  My new crush?

It's nice to muse over losing my purse and having someone like Chris Evans come to my rescue.  I had one of those nights once long ago in college and always wondered what happened to that guy.

Directed by Chris Evans, this was obviously a labor of love for him and a way to be something other than Captain America.

Rosy the Reviewer says... If you like Linklater's "Before Sunrise" films, you might enjoy this one too. Chris's Nick is a bit too good to be true but we can dream, can't we? 

***My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project***

255 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

The Act of Killing (2012)

Former Indonesian death squad leaders reenact their mass killings in a variety of genres.

"It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets."  - Voltaire

Thus begins this documentary about the 1960's killings in Indonesia of over a million people, anyone who opposed the military regime: alleged communists, ethnic Chinese and intellectuals.  The government used paramilitary and gangsters to do the killings, one group was the Pancasila Youth, led by Anwar Congo.  That group still has many current members in Indonesia.

Anwar and his friends were delighted when they were approached by documentarian Joshua Oppenheimer, who asked them to reenact the killings in any movie genre they wished. They chose the styles of American movies that they loved. As Oppenheimer directed this film within a film, the assassins are enthusiastic, building elaborate sets, using special effects and making fancy costumes.  When interviewed they were proud of the killings and were happy to reenact them for what they hoped would be a successful feature film. They bragged about their deeds - butchering and killing entire families - and they were never punished for what they did.  In fact in many circles they were revered and looked up to for ridding the country of the "communists."  Several times they proudly call themselves gangsters because the word means "free man."

As the assassins describe the killings, they share the best clothes to wear for killing someone, the best way to kill, all in a very matter-of-fact way.  They brag about being more sadistic than the Nazis.  In general, though, as the film progresses their humanity slowly emerges, they try to rationalize their acts and admit that they know killing is wrong. 

Eventually some of the men start to exhibit guilt and remorse about what they had done, especially Congo.

Why it's a Must See:  "Executive produced by Werner Herzog and Errol Morris, [this film] is a shocking, surreal, and stunningly original documentary...[director] Oppenheimer eschews historical context or archival footage, instead focusing on a few individuals as they gradually come to recognize the abhorrence of their crimes."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

This film won many awards in 2014 including an Oscar nomination and the BAFTA for Best Documentary Feature Film category.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a timely film in light of the continuing terrorism and mass murder of innocent people around the world.


***The Book of the Week***

Spark Joy:   An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

Apparently, we are all now obsessed with organizing, folding and tidying.

I just took one of those quizzes that are so rampant on Facebook.  It was a personality quiz and my highest score was for "orderliness" at 92%.  So it's no wonder I was drawn to this book.

But I am not the only one interested in organizing and tidiness. This is the second book from Kondo, whose first book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" was a major best-seller. I think it says something about our world that we want someone to whip us into shape!  And that she does.  This is a sort of "Tiger Mother" for messy people.

Here she goes one step further with her KonMari Method of folding everything and organizing drawers, shelves and closets to explain how this will give you joy. She divides the book into categories such as rain gear, paper supplies and food and then tells you how to deal with it all in a way that will give you joy (brace yourself, sometimes she says, get rid of it)!

There are all sorts of little platitudes and homilies interspersed, to inspire you, I would guess.  The book begins with: "Life truly begins only after you have put your house in order."  I can't help but think, then, of all those poor sods who live in messy houses and whose lives have yet to begin.

The KonMari way has six rules:

1.  Commit yourself to tidying up
2.  Imagine your ideal lifestyle
3.  Finish discarding first
4.  Tidy by category, not by location
5. Follow the right order
6. Ask yourself if it sparks joy

OK, that all sounds reasonable.  But isn't joy subjective?

For example, I have to question the joy in throwing out a vase in lieu of a plastic bottle for your flowers.  Don't we get some joy from the lovely vase?  She goes on to say you can then throw out the plastic bottle. Where's the joy in a plastic bottle?  My joy is the lovely flowers in the lovely vase.  Her joy is obviously throwing stuff out.

Here is more:

"Pack drawers like a Japanese bento box."
You are kidding me!

"Fold clothes like origami."
You are kidding me some more!

"Tidying puts relationships into focus."

Rosy the Reviewer says...Ohhhh.... Just too much material here...I feel a blog post coming on.  See you Tuesday!


That's it for this week!

Thanks for reading!

See you Tuesday for

"How to Turn Your Undies into Origami, or,
Is There Joy To Be Had in Decluttering?"

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to copy and paste or click on the share buttons to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn, email it to your friends and LIKE me on Facebook at

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