Marie Kondo Opens Store and People Literally Implode From Stupidity, News At 11

If you’ve been on the Internet at any point this week, you know the big news, which is that Marie Kondo – the tidying, Shinto guru who went famous after her books were turned into a made-for-Netflix TV series – opened … wait for it … a store of housewares.

The greatest part about this is that people of all walks of life are going BERSERK. I mean crazy. Like hundreds of comments calling her hogwash, claiming her a fraud, calling out this huge conspiracy to get people to throw away their stuff just so that she can sell them more (as if there aren’t other retailers out there who sell things like reusable water bottles and bamboo drawer organizers).

Even major mass media publications are posting online with captions like this one:

[Insert loud cancelation buzzer noise.]

Anyone that actually took the time to read Marie Kondo’s book, or even just sort of pay attention during the explanations, narrations, and intermittent side talks with Kondo on the TV show, knows the reality of the KonMari Method. It isn’t about getting rid of stuff, or having less. It is not – let’s say it a little louder for those in the back, NOT – about minimalism. It’s simply about only keeping things which spark joy or even joy-through-usefulness in your life stuff.

Let’s say this a little louder for you guys, just in case:

It isn’t about getting rid of stuff, or having less. It is not – let’s say it a little louder for those in the back, NOT – about minimalism. It’s simply about only keeping things which spark joy or even joy-through-usefulness in your life.

Did we get it this time?

It then follows that if Kondo opens a housewares shop online, the critics – large and small – are making themselves look like complete morons for the simple fact that they clearly never took to the time to actually know or understand what she proposes in her Shinto-based philosophy.

So while I think that just about everything in her shop is cute, but grossly overpriced, that is a criticism in and of itself, and has nothing to do – at all – with the spark joy belief system she has become so famous for.

Other critics of Kondo have said that she largely overlooks matters of inequality and instead proposes a belief system for people of privilege. Again, I think we’ve largely missed the mark on what she is saying. If you take her philosophy down to the bare bones of it all, the Shinto belief system, what she teaches is gratitude for the things that you have and no longer find a use, and joy or appreciation for the things you keep. If you are in a low income family and have three pairs of scissors, and read that Kondo suggests you consider paring that down to just one pair…you have to read the entirety of the philosophy, and focus also on the words she actually uses, like consider. Her rules are not hard and fast, rather things to think about. Consider that your three scissors do have usefulness, and moreover bring you joy in knowing that if one pair breaks, you will not feel the economic stress of having to come up with the money to replace them. You have two others stored away, which – I’ll add – she has gads of advice on doing as well in such a way that life is organized and people can spend more time enjoying it.

So I think we all need to take a deep breath and just simmer down.

I, personally, read both of her books about two years ago, and began to implement her method in my daily life. To say that it was life changing is an understatement for one reason, and one reason only: while I did get rid of a lot of stuff that was simply cluttering up my life, it broke open a daily and consistently reaffirming gratitude within me in every day life for every single thing that I have, material and otherwise. My entire life and outlook has changed because of the way decluttering and tidying by her method made me look at the world differently.

(And for those interested, there are a lot of things about her tidying methods I have chosen to ignore…in particular, the folding ones – who has time for that?!)

So she opened a store and everything in it can be boiled down as: overpriced dust pans. So don’t shop there. Her movement is not a movement of minimalism, so who is to say those overpriced dust pans fail to spark joy in at least some people? Calling her a hypocrite is still incorrect.

This is one of those rare times that I feel like evoking the old adage that we should not judge a book by its cover. In this particular case, I would go on to add: especially if you didn’t even read it.

REMINDER: Not Having To Work On Thanksgiving Is A Privilege

Every year, I see all of these posts on Facebook and other social media sites going around about companies choosing to not be open on Thanksgiving, so that employees can be with their families. There’s also the loud, ALL CAPS proclamations that only hideous and awful people would work or shop on the holiday.

I wrote about this several years ago, in fact it was the only time I was Freshly Pressed on WordPress’s coveted homepage. I guess I didn’t get my point across to you guys, though, because still many of you are continuing, I see along your own blogs, Facebooks, and Twitter feeds, to look down upon people that work on holidays, and shame those that shop on Thanksgiving.

To be clear: if you don’t want to shop on Thanksgiving, I don’t care. And if you are fortunate enough to not have to work on Thanksgiving…well cheers! Good for you!

But this is one of those times that the famous quote comes into play: privilege is thinking something is not a problem, because it does not affect you personally.

So let’s try this one again.

Not having to work on Thanksgiving is a privilege. I’m sure if your house catches on fire because you don’t know how the fuck to use your oven properly, you’ll appreciate the fire fighters and ambulance workers that – wait for it – work on Thanksgiving, instead of spend time with their families.

Let’s say you suffer some burns and have to go to the hospital. Certainly the employees there are terrible people for choosing to work on the holiday, instead of being with family as well.

There are a host of professions in which holidays are like any other day: non-negotiable. And before you all get back on your high horse and start in about how retail employees, specifically, should receive the day off to spend that time with their families, consider a few things:

  1. Many retail employees don’t make shit for pay any other day of the year, so need the overtime pay. When I was in college, paying my way through, I volunteered to work every holiday so that I could have some extra cash for books. I still got off in time for my family to plan their dinner around my schedule. It can be done.
  2. Many retail employees work in jobs where they don’t make shit for pay AND they don’t get holiday pay or PTO for that day off. That one day to “spend with their families” is literally the difference between making the rent, and being evicted.
  3. Many people have other family members who work in the positions I mentioned or are in the military, or have recently had a falling out with family or recently had a tragic death …there are a ton of reasons why someone would choose to go work to take their mind off an otherwise depressing situation. It’s the holiday season, and that isn’t always a positive thing for people (check post-holiday suicide rates if you don’t believe me). We should all be comfortable doing what we have to do to get through it.

And for the people that shop on Thanksgiving…that go out and wait for the deals. Sure, some of them are just materialistic pieces of trash who want cheap, new TVs.

But there are some in there, too, that have to get those deals, or Christmas for their kids doesn’t happen. Like at all.

Not having to working or shop on Thanksgiving is a privilege. Those of you in either, or both, of those positions should be grateful (hey…you could post about it on your Facebook grateful status).

REMINDER: You Do Not Have To Post On Facebook To Be Grateful

Shocking, I know.

You are capable of being something – anything – without posting it on the Internet.

A lot of people are doing that whole month long grateful post thing. You know, the thing where every day, for the entire month of November, you post a pithy status update on your social media app of choice professing loudly and clearly for all to hear that – YES, YOU ARE GRATEFUL.

If this is your thing, cool. Let me say that again for the people in the back: IF THIS IS YOUR THING, COOL.

I am not saying you shouldn’t do it.

But don’t be coming at me with bullshit like the claim that I am not grateful because I choose to not post a daily gratitude affirmation for the entire world to read.

Honestly, people.

Here’s the thing about Facebook. It’s a place where people can, much like in Las Vegas, be just about anything they want to be. Grateful is one of them. It’s all about the impression that you give people with your Facebook impressions, and all that jazz.

There are going to occasionally be people posting about gratitude that actually are the most terrible, selfish and ungrateful people on the planet. And there are similarly going to be people that don’t post the whole gratitude thing, and appreciate things more than you could ever imagine. This is the result of the Internet’s ability to let people unabashadly craft their own persona, based on reality or not.

So this can serve as a little reminder for those of you that are in the back, and haven’t gotten the memo just yet: you do not have to post on Facebook – or anywhere else – about being thankful to actually be grateful for what you have.

I’m A Stay At Home Mom Because It’s Too Costly To Not Be

I woke up this morning with a start, realizing it is November 2nd and the gas bill was due two days ago.

I’ve been so swamped lately, it just slipped my mind. This was the last of the bills to go on autopay, I just hadn’t gotten around to setting it up yet. Fortunately, I called and the gas company said I was within the 5 day grace period. So the bill wasn’t even really late. And they set up autopay right then on the phone, too, so now I literally never have to make the effort to pay bills anymore. It just happens.

It got me thinking about the costs (financial and otherwise) of working, though, because the reality of the situation is that for about four weeks now, I have been working even though I’m really a Stay At Home Mom.

Doesn’t make sense, does it?

Well without going into all of the emotionally exhausting and – quite frankly – mind numbing details of my husband’s attitudes with regards to me and the children, and money, I decided to try and start doing some work on the side of my full time mom gig, just so we had a little extra money so that the kids didn’t have to miss out on anything (fun or otherwise) when he gets into one of his moods.

There was a problem, though, with the whole arrangement. Well, several problems:

  1. My husband works overnight, and long hours, in film. It’s not like he can be counted on for anything with the kids. He can’t. He leaves for work at 4:30 in the afternoon, gets home when the work is done, then sleeps until it’s time to get up and go back to work. It isn’t like he comes home and takes over with the kids. I do everything. Everything. Cooking. Cleaning. Yardwork. Errands. Driving. Everything.
  2. My two oldest kids homeschool. I am their educator.
  3. I went back to school in August, after a ten year hiatus, to start working towards finishing the graduate degree I (foolishly) stopped working towards all those years ago. SO now I’m the teacher. I’m a student. I’m the only parent most of the time. And I’m working?
  4. I have no real childcare whatsoever, and no budget for said childcare. My two oldest kids had to free babysit my toddler, while I worked. Or my dad, who lives with us and is 76 did, but he’s old and has limits. (I’m sure you can all imagine how healthy that is for everyone involved after a couple hours of Grandpa time; my dad has to nap for an average of 3 hours after just an hour with my little guy…)
  5. I was already stretched thin scheduling-wise and getting only about 4 hours of sleep a night.

So for one month, I started writing part time in a freelance writing position. I used to do this before I had my third child, and was relatively successful. But things are different now, and three kids is no joke, so success isn’t exactly how it went this time.

Within a week, I stopped having time for almost anything. No more gym. I was driving my kids around town on virtually no sleep. I even started skipping meals and showers, just to keep up with the schedule.

I worked about 6 hours a day, but got only minimal work done because I was trying to juggle everything while doing the writing. The worst moments were when my toddler was running around, crying because I was on the computer. He would run up and slam the laptop screen shut. Stay up until 2 in the morning to have playtime with Mommy. Within a week, he was getting even more clingy, too. He still nurses and was suddenly nursing double what he had cut back to.

The best moments were when I turned my freelance writing profiles on “out of office.” I did this twice in the four weeks, for two days each. That means I took exactly four days off in the entire month. But it wasn’t really time off, because it’s when I had to catch up on all of my other stuff. I cleaned the house, did heavy yard work, caught up on grocery shopping.

The first two days “out of office,” I realized towards the end of the two days that I had gotten behind on planning the kid’s homeschooling. So I stayed up for 36 straight hours to make sure everything was set for the rest of the month. I literally had no other option, the clock was ticking and there was just too much for me to do.

That is the first time I considered forcing my kids into public school. When I finally went to sleep after 36 hours of working and catching up on everything, I did so crying.

In the four weeks, I made a lot of connections and got almost 100 positive 5-star reviews.

After taxes, site fees, PayPal transfer fees, and getting screwed by not one, not two, but seven people who decided not to pay their bill, but publish my work as theirs anyway, I brought home exactly $46.

Forty. Six. Fucking. Dollars.

I felt so guilty for all the time away from them and everything that had sort of fallen apart, I used it all to take my kids to the movies.

Here were the costs:

  1. I spent less time with my kids, and by “less time,” I mean virtually no time. I went from Stay At Home Mom to Mombie, sleeping less than 2 hours per night, and just going through the motions to get through each day.
  2. I had no time after the kids went to bed to work on my blog, and for the first month in – I don’t know, the entire time I have blogged – my blog was not self-sustaining (because my clicks and social media ticks went down).
  3. That thing about my toddler being sad.
  4. That thing about my two older kids losing their educator, and having to become almost full time babysitters.
  5. I forgot about two assignments for school, and didn’t have time for a third. So now I’m unsure that I can even do this school thing with the kids and everything else.

And then there were the risks. I was driving around town on virtually no sleep, with three children in my car. Several times I caught myself thinking I could close my eyes for just a second. On more than one occasion, I was driving faster than was safe for the conditions, because I needed to get home to get the work done so I could get school done so I could make dinner so I could finish the laundry so I could …

My blood pressure went from its normal and healthy 110/68 to an alarming 148/92

People said my older kids could pitch in more. I disagreed. They had already all but quit sports and school to help with my toddler, pick up the slack with cleaning and laundry and dinner… And while I know that kids do that all the time in a variety of situations around the world, I started to ask myself: why would I ask that of my kids when there is absolutely no necessity whatsoever? No necessity, and it’s actually costing more?

But I digress…

There are two issues, as I see it. One is that I don’t really want to work, I want to be with my kids. I know, I know…what mom doesn’t? and all that jazz. But here’s the other thing: it cost us significantly more money and other stuff for me to work last month in a semi-regular position (unlike my blog and books, which can be done here and there as I please), and I didn’t even get into childcare.

To work in any capacity for the long term, we would have to completely change the children’s lives, most importantly there would be paid childcare needed and paid help with transporting my older kids to and from school and other activities, or if they continued to homeschool we would have to pay someone else to educate them.

At a minimum, for me to work and have that help, I would have to bring home – net pay, after everything – around $30,000 a year. And that would leave nothing, not a penny. Again begging the question: why do it?

(Not to mention the fact that $46 a month is not $30,000 a year.)

And there’s also all the other stuff. I’m one person, managing a lot, and I do it all alone. Adding this was just too much. To allow myself the indulgence of a cliche: it really was the straw that broke this camel’s back.

So I notified my regular “clients” today that I just can’t keep up with this anymore, and I’m backing out. My blog and my books are sufficient; school is sufficient. Being a mom is enough.

I’m a Stay At Home Mom because it’s too costly for me to not be. Costly in terms of money. And costly in terms of who I am and what’s most important.

It’s Pumpkin Spice Equinox, Bitches.

I am literally shitting pumpkin spiced foods and beverages out my ears at this point, that is how much I am up in this fall business.

I have been for weeks.

Every year, I find myself here. Writing a blog post about how fucking fabulous fall is. Others have done the same, about decorative gourds season, and about the bliss that comes with the best fucking season of all seasons to ever exist.

Eventually I get sick of it. I tire of the maple candles and the apple picking and the farm stands and the pumpkin spiced flavors and the basic bitch UGG boots. Then I move on to Hallmark movies and cherry and cinnamon flavor palettes and holiday music and putting my tree up before Thanksgiving.

But for now, it’s fall. It’s fall and I am in my zone.

I’ve reached the point where I stop procrastinating on the Halloween costumes, and they begin to take their final form. My two oldest kids – 15 and 11 – still dress up to please their brother, and I am ready. I am ready to sew, tuck, pin, and hot glue that shit together like the most Pinteresty Mom you’ve ever known.

My fall display has been out on the front porch for several weeks now, but I’m ready for phase two: excessive fall display. I’m talking hay bails, I’m talking corn stalks, I’m talking fucking potted marigolds.

Two weeks before Halloween, it will morph to Halloween-themed.

November 1st, we move back to excessive fall display with a flair of Thanksgiving.

And about a week before Thanksgiving, the Christmas bonanza takes over and my fall display moves to the table for Thanksgiving dinner.

I have a system. I’m ready. It’s go time.

As I am typing this, I’m actually – legitimately – sitting here, yelling -nay, screaming – in my Steroid Starla voice: LET’S DO THIS! LET’S GO! Because fall is my jam, and I’ve got my canning gear out.

Literally. I’m ready to make some pickles. To pickle some watermelon rinds. To give salsa and pesto and spaghetti sauce another go around. To make up some fucking fruit butters and canned pie fillings. I hate cooking, and I especially loathe the heat and load of canning. And yet the thought of spending an entire day over a steaming pot of vinegar and boiling water has tingles shooting out of every hole of my Martha Stewart reading – water bath canning – yes, I can do this and no, none of us are going to get a deadly intestinal disease from improper processing – head.

And the icing on this fall’s apple cake is: we seem to have escaped our typical, autumnal heat wave. For quite a few years, it would be a muggy 105 degrees for several weeks through September and October. We would slog around in the heat, wondering how we could ever celebrate autumn when it feels like we live on the equator in the middle of summer.

But – fingers crossed – with the exception of a couple days of heat here, and a few days of humidity there – it is cooling down.

Cooling down for, you guessed it: layers.

The thing I’m loving this year is the new appreciation for basic ass girls like me being into this shit. Like finally people are standing up to the naysayers of all-things-pumpkin spice and proclaiming: NO! You will not make fun of me for enjoying the fusion of nutmeg and cloves! NO! You will accept and embrace the addition of cinnamon to create a trifecta of flavors that have literally been around for centuries. “You know pumpkin spice doesn’t even have pumpkin in it!” the naysayers proclaim, and finally we are there, ready to respond: no shit … it’s called pumpkin spice because it’s the spice used in pumpkin pie, you ignorant, nutmeg-hating twats.

So today is the first day of fall and I’m feeling fabulous about it. I’ve got crafts staged in the garage, and pumpkin spice pancake mix prepped in the fridge for breakfast. It’s Pumpkin Spice Equinox, bitches.

Yo, Privileged Guy At The Tennis Courts

This is for you.

The other day I was sitting at the tennis courts where my kids were attending a group clinic.

I was sitting in the chairs that border the courts. You know, seating for human beings.

There were two other mothers there. We were – like – just sitting. Chatting, really quietly. (And I mean really quietly, because I know how dickwads like you give the coaches everywhere around town such a hard time.)

We were pretty much minding our business.

Then you told us to shut the fuck up. Like animals.

To be clear, you interrupted the mother I was speaking to, mid-sentence, and yelled: “hey ladies, could you take your conversation over to the parent’s area?”

Um.

The other mother said “Oh, sorry, are we being too loud?” And you yelled “just go on down to the parent’s viewing area over there.”

Parent’s area? I didn’t know such a thing existed. I didn’t realize that parents were being segregated from the rest of the more civilized folk. Maybe we are and I just don’t know, but what you were referring to, which you then clarified: the parents area was a group of chairs five courts down, in the dirt.

Hey ladies, could you shut the fuck up and go sit in the dirt?

You very obviously had a hard on for misogynistic undertones, because I also heard you refer to my 15 year old daughter as “blondie.” If I were less classy of a person, I would have told you to shut the fuck up too. But being polite and not wanting to embarrass my kids or the coaches (who deal with enough shit from assbags like you on a daily basis), I returned to my book, and listened to you.

You bitched about children in tennis.

You bitched about not having courts when you want them because of children.

You bitched about children’s sports on the whole. You said children shouldn’t be allowed to play sports until they are in college.

You said the coaches shouldn’t be allowed to support children’s sports.

You griped about how a “council” should be formed to eliminate youth sports altogether from the community, because it bothers you every time you are there playing tennis, or even at the park walking your dog.

Every time a child at the group clinic even uttered the slightest noise – and I mean slightest – you stopped what you were doing (serving, playing out a point, whatever), looked over, and said “REALLY?!”

But I digress. You know what you did.

After you finished your friendly match with a guy who seemed much more decent of a human being than you (though not – clearly – decent enough to call out that “blondie” comment), you guys went in to the clubhouse and ordered beers. Sitting outside, still on the chairs for humans versus the spots in the dirt for the parents, I heard you loudly yelling at the guy serving you that you couldn’t believe he did not know your account number. That of all the people that frequent the place, he couldn’t remember yours.

Yeah, so.

What is so disturbing about this is your sense of privilege. It isn’t that you are more privileged than others – with more wealth or better health, greater opportunities, or whatever. It’s that you believe – like actually believe – that the world is all for you.

That it is actually OK to refer to a child as “blondie.” Ever, in any situation.

That people should be segregated based on their “status” or usefulness? I don’t know, what exactly is it segregating by to separate parents from non-parents?

I read a meme the other day that said “privilege is thinking something is not a problem because it has never personally affected you.”

That’s true. But I think in your case, I would take that a little further.

Privilege is thinking that the whole world is set up specifically for you, and that in your case the rules do not apply. That you can actually say and behave in the way you did that day and get away with it.

Why? I guess because for now you do.

For myself, I’m going to start putting my kids in situations where people like that don’t rule the world. It may be hard to find. Or maybe I will just start speaking up, and speaking out. How else will I teach my kids to stand up to that shit and make a change, instead of quietly turning back to their books and do what the privileged motherfuckers like you demand, just to avoid conflict?

The Russians Interfered With My Dog’s Mayoral Campaign (and I couldn’t even make this up if I tried)

To say I have had a weird summer so far is a gross understatement of the situation at hand. My summer has been so strange, with odd events, weird injuries, and zany outcomes, I’m sort of just hanging on to anything not moving to ride this out for the last couple of weeks.

One such absurdity was that my town had a campaign for dog mayor.

And then it didn’t, because the Russians interfered.

It started innocently, one day in June. My husband was reading the local paper before heading out to work, and he saw that the city was having a campaign for Dog Mayor as a fundraiser for the local dog parks. Sounded like a good idea, and it seemed like a good opportunity to get my kids to take the dogs out more.

It was $25 to file, and you needed to run a normal campaign with flyers and appearances at designated candidate events (located, conveniently, at the dog park down the street from our house).

At the first candidate event, not many dogs had entered yet; so we were surprised when the voting opened and there were over 10 dogs on the roster. Some were cute, many were former shelter dogs (like mine), but one stood out as unique, in the sense that she looked exactly like my dog, and the owner was willing to match dollar-for-dollar any donations people made to the SPCA through the course of the campaign. It seemed a pretty extreme commitment from our middle class community, but I quickly forgot about it and focused my efforts on my own dog’s campaign.

We made a website, and started getting flyers going. She started making appearances in a red-white-and-blue bandana. And I started to solicit votes from people we knew.

Quickly the unique one, the one that stood out to me when the voting kicked off, took the lead with almost 800 votes. 800. EIGHT HUNDRED. Despondent, with only about 60 votes, I told my kids we needed to start preparing for the worst, but hoping for a good appearance at the next candidate event this coming weekend.

Then, yesterday, I saw a comment on the Facebook voting event that struck my attention for the fact that it was typed in all caps. The gist of the comment was that the family that owned the top dog was from Russia, and as such had solicited votes from their own social network, many of whom resided in Russia. I responded to the comment and asked if this was for real, and the man replied “YOU WILL SEE!”

I immediately dismissed it as crazy.

Today we were on our way home from running errands, and my phone rang from a number I didn’t recognize. Naturally, I didn’t answer; and I’m glad I didn’t. The message was the coordinator of the mayoral dog race, and she was letting me know that in my email was a letter to be read immediately regarding the cancelation of the election.

In short: the crazy, all caps contention that the Russians were hacking the dog mayor election was true.

Not only had votes been solicited from outside of the region, which was entirely against the rules, but the back-and-forth online arguing between the top dog and the crazy commenter had apparently continued to the point that the city decided to pull the plug on the whole thing.

It’s so bizarre to think that the Russians interfered in a race for dog mayor in a two bit hillbilly city such as my own, and yet – if we are going to be honest about what technically happened, here – they did.

Which doesn’t make much of a difference to me, because even if they had just disqualified that dog, mine was still all the way down in 4th place. There was no way she was going to win, which was probably a blessing in disguise because at the prior candidate events, she wasn’t exactly polite to the other dogs.

I can’t help but wonder if this is actually what the bigger Russian hacking conspiracy was all about. Infiltrating all these tiny little things to create a bigger, societal problem and certain level of unrest.

Whatever the case may be, it was the weird turn of events I could have never imagined happening in my local-yocal suburb.

Summer, amiright?