The ninja neat warrior who sparks crazy

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(Image: Decider)

Marie Kondo is having a moment. The diminutive beaming Japanese ninja neat warrior has tapped into the zeitgeist in a big way and is attempting to bring happiness and peace to the planet one neatly folded t-shirt at a time. Thanks to her recent Netflix series, she has become a global phenomenon. Who knew that tidying up was so Instagrammable? Who knew that sorting out stuff would lead to personal empowerment and who knew that a good old-fashioned cleaning session would spark joy. Certainly not me.

For anyone who has somehow missed her Netflix special, her books or massive media coverage, she is a Japanese de-clutterer expert who has devised a system, called KonMari to tackle tidying up. From what I can gather this really just means throwing things out and keeping the house clean. There are, however, a few signature moves. For instance, her approach to throwing out is that you should only keep things that spark joy. If they don’t spark joy, then you must hold the item (be it clothing, ornaments, books, whatever), thank it for its service and then toss it. She also has a special t-shirt folding and storage technique. T-shirts should be stacked upright in the drawer by colour. But first folded with love. (Why you can’t hang up t-shirts I’m not sure).

There is an argument that Marie, despite having released her first book in 2014, is having quite a moment now because of the global political situation. Because people feel adrift and have lost faith in governments and institutions to keep order, they are trying to create order in their own homes. That’s an argument I can get on board with and it’s the only way I can see tidying up being desirable.

It’s not that Marie isn’t likeable. She is. She’s positive with a beaming smile and neat, pressed pastel-coloured clothes and, refreshingly, she’s not an air-brushed Instagram model. She’s polite, she’s her own person and she doesn’t speak fluent English so she comes armed with an interpreter, which adds a different element to the program.

But from what I can glean on this program, there’s not a lot of focus on the root problem, which looks a lot like rampant consumerism. People have masses of stuff, be it fitness equipment, clothes, toys, kitchen appliances, because of the consumer model we live in. Western society peeps need big houses to store all this stuff they don’t really use. My problem with the KonMari method is that it doesn’t talk about what happens to all this discarded stuff. We never know if it goes to landfill or charity or is repurposed.

Also, another problem with the KonMari method is that it is a fact that some people are naturally tidy and others are naturally messy. But if you have never bought that much stuff to begin with then having a tendency to untidy is not a problem. For a start, you don’t need to spend forty minutes folding t-shirts. If I don’t have much stuff I don’t need to be neat! Also a subject Marie fails to mention, is that a little cluttery stuff makes a house a home, makes it personal, makes it real, gives it character. I’m not talking about a giant mess, just a little jumble here and there. If it sparks bemusement, keep it, I say!

I think all this tidying up is likely to spark anxiety, unless the root causes of clutter are tackled. Loneliness, too much stuff, spending addiction, fear of missing out on the latest gadget. And focus on the real things in life that spark joy. For me, what sparks joy is not having to do much housework. It’s life that should spark joy, not folding t-shirts.

Overachievers make me want to rant

These are the people I hate: overachievers.

You know them – Double PhD in Psychological Neurowave Particles, seven initials after their name and a roving spot on the UN. Not to mention a Pilot’s License, being Goodwill Ambassador to Upper Ghana and a couple of Olympic Medals in badminton that they got when they were bored one day.

A stint on Time Magazine – no problem. A TV Network to run, a few books to their name and polyglot status – it’s all in a day’s work.

Hate em, hate em, hate em.

Do these people not sleep? Or breathe, cook dinner, wash up or sit down with takeaway in front of the telly? Or sit down at all?

They are like Bear Grylls, just insanely overachieving for no good reason that I can see. And, like Bear, possibly have no actual life skills. Could you see Bear operating an office coffee machine? No. Could he negotiate a multi-story carpark without wanting to stab himself in the eye with a fork? I think not. The same with these overachievers.

Do they know how to borrow a book from the library for instance? Or book a movie ticket or make a cup of tea?

Sure, anyone can get a Doctorate in Psycho-Kinetic Scuba Diving, be President, read the news or run a media empire.

But getting up in the morning every day and making your own breakfast – that takes real guts.

The smell of mistake

This is a blog dedicated to all the crack proofreaders in the world. You know who you are – if there is a momentary lapse of judgement, they swoop like my husband grabbing the last chocolate brownie.

But I’m worried. If they are spotting typos, mixed metaphors or old school stuff ups, what else takes their eye? A giant lurgy about to launch? An escaped fart? A misaligned chakra? Re-used wrapping paper? A joke stolen from someone else at last year’s Christmas party?

On the other hand it’s somehow reassuring to know that there are people out there reading your blog.

Tradesman Trauma

Why do tradesmen think that just because they were a tight pair of battered stubbies and a knock-off football t-shirt that they have the right to waste our time, make idle promises, bully and emotionally torment us?

Have you ever had an experience with a tradesman that hasn’t resulted in 36 phone calls to a mobile phone message that seems to have been recorded by the same people who make cut-price furniture advertisements? Waited an entire winter and half of spring for them to return a phone call, listened to excuses straight out of the manual: Oh, there’s been a lot of rain lately so I’m running behind; I’ve got a lot of other work on at the moment because of the rain; I’m really busy at the moment working on Richard Branson’s holiday home in Barbados but I can get a mate to look at it, You’re at the top of my list at the moment and the classic … I’ll be there tomorrow at 7.30am.

You take a day off work; 7.30am comes and goes. You give them the benefit of the doubt because of all of the above and they said they’d be there. At 10am you phone. No answer. At midday you phone again, the phone mysteriously cuts out. Then you’re getting angry. Plus you’re hungry and would really like some lunch but you can’t go out, just in case they arrive. You keep phoning every hour then every half hour and then at 3pm they answer. They make it sound that you have forgotten to take the little red pills this morning. What, are you nuts?! Was only going to get to you if he finished up Richard Branson’s holiday home. And well, that hasn’t happened because of the rain, sun, economy. Whatever. You get angry. Explain that actually he did make a promise to you and that you’ve taken the day off. That you too have deadlines, schedules and things to do other than sit around waiting. But it’s no good, the tradesman doesn’t care about your deadlines and there’s nothing he can do about it anyway, as he’s at the pub. But, as a special favour he’ll see you next week, probably Friday but could be anywhere between Tuesday and Thursday too, it just depends – too much rain or too much sun and the whole deal could be off.

And when they do arrive to paint the fence, unblock the toilet, grout the ceiling, they demolish the letterbox on the way through in their oversized ute, smash a window with a ladder, drink all your cordial, eat all your Kingstons and charge as though you had the bank account of Richard Branson. But you’re so pathetically grateful they turned up at all that you say thank you  and open up your special packet of Tim Tams.

And it’s time to fix the letterbox and the window, so you take a deep breath and make a phone call to another tradesman.