Housework is the stuff of celebrity news. That’s how desperate we are for distraction in 2019. Marie Kondo, the much vaunted star of the Netlfix series Tidying up with Marie Kondo, has been profiled ad nauseam in The New York Times, The Guardian, and on trashy Entertainment Tonight. She is more famous than Kim Zolciak Biermann of The Real Housewives of Atlanta, whom I couldn’t pick out of a lineup, or Matt Paxton of Hoarders, the founder of Clutter Cleaners, whom I also couldn’t pick out of a lineup.
We are messy and unglamorous, and we love to see other people’s messy houses. (Okay, I know The Real Housewives isn’t about that.) Kondo fixes the cleaning problems gently with decluttering advice. She encourages them to throw out or recycle items that don’t “spark joy,” which I translate as stuff you haven’t looked at or used in years. I recently threw out an ancient box of Thank You cards (who’m I gonna thank?), a plaque that says”No outfit is complete without cat hair,” a Size 8 (dream on!) Eddie Bauer quilted pseudo-bowling jacket from the ’90s, and what might have been a potato masher.
Cleaning up can help, but it can also hinder. Dare I admit this? I find clutter comforting sometimes. When I’m ill, it’s actually cozy. Though I could do without the used Kleenex shredded by cats, the coffee table is piled with a cup of tea and reading material for all moods: The New York Review of Books, several catalogues, a copy of Middlemarch, Herman Wouk’s Marjorie Morningstar, Georgette Heyer’s Venetia, and Natalia Ginzburg’s Family Lexicon (wow, is this overrated, or do I just have a cold?). And I’ve got the remote and some DVDs: I might at any minute decide to watch Bunheads or Four Weddings and a Funeral.
Now if only the cats would tidy up for me…