Friday, November 28, 2014

Reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

Getting organized is upsetting.

Which is why I end up reading about it. I am avoiding doing it.

But most books about organization tell you stuff you already know, like “File, don’t pile.”

I know that.

What they don’t tell you is how to make yourself do it.

So, when I read in the New York Times about The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, a book by a Japanese professional organizer, Marie Kondo, and it seemed ... well … different, I read it.

Marie Kondo, who is as cute as a button, is kind of nutty. She treats objects as if they are alive. She tells you to fold your socks a certain way because when they are in your drawer, they are “on holiday” and deserve to be comfortable. She admits having a hard time bonding with people, saying “It was material things and my house that taught me to appreciate unconditional love first, not my parents or friends.”

You’d think she wouldn’t be keen on throwing stuff out, but she says unwanted objects want to be discarded. She tells you to thank a thing for its service before you can it. A gift you hate? “Thank you for the joy of receiving you.” Clothes you don’t like? “Thank you for teaching me what doesn’t suit me.”

Kondo’s clients end up getting rid of most of what they own. “My basic principle for sorting papers is to throw them all away,” she says.

But, really, she focuses on, not which things to trash, but which to keep. “Take each item in one’s hand,” she says, “and ask: ‘Does this spark joy?’ If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it.”

While I won’t be folding my socks anytime soon, I am all fired up to throw stuff out.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

La, La, La, La Lola

Yes, I am the type of mother who tells stories on my kids they wish I wouldn't.

When my son was seven years old, we got our new puppy – and he named her “Lola” after a girl in his first-grade class. Awww.

(He swears that this girl “wasn’t a girlfriend, but a friend who just happened to be a girl,” and he may be telling the truth. If Puppy Lola had been a boy, his name would have been “Max,” after my son’s other good friend in first grade.)

“Lola” is actually quite a common name for dogs. For the most part, it fits what people look for in a dog name. It’s short and it’s cute and it even ends in a vowel.

But what I find most interesting is how people respond to my dog’s name.

When people hear that her name is “Lola,” they will almost always start singing one of three songs:

“Copacabana” by Barry Manilow, which starts off, “Her name was Lola; she was a showgirl, with yellow feathers in her hair and a dress cut down to there;”


“Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets,” from the musical Damn Yankees. The people who choose this one tend to be older, which makes sense since the musical was written in 1955.

Whichever one the person chooses really does tell you something about them, I think.

 Got a song stuck in your head now?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Color Green

Our front porch.
I am sitting on my porch, contemplating the color green.

Not only is our house and our balcony furniture and even our car and, gosh, my cellphone case green, but we live in Houston, where the climate is “humid subtropical,” which is a fancy way of saying “swamp.”

From Rick & Mambo,
a California radio show
We live two doors down from Joshua’s, a nursery, which, come to think of it, painted its building a startling lime green the day after we put a bid on this house.

If you are going to live near a commercial enterprise – and since we wanted a walkable neighborhood, we were going to – you could do a lot worse than live near a nursery. Joshua’s has beautiful plantings and you can always pop in for a dose of greenery. Being in the woods or garden or a nursery always makes me feel better. Maybe it’s all the oxygen the plants are producing. As Franklin Roosevelt said, “Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.”

According to Wikipedia, the word “green” comes from the Anglo-Saxon word “grene,” meaning “grow.” It is associated with youth (a greenhorn). You can be given a green light, a good thing. It is the color of environmental causes. It is also the color of jealousy and envy. (Iago called jealousy “the green-ey’d monster” in Othello.) And it's the color of nausea.

I read, here, that green eyes, which I have, are the rarest eye color; only 2% of people have them. I’m not sure I believe this since the same website has a page about violet eyes, and I’m pretty sure violet eyes, if they even exist (do you know anyone with purple eyes?), would be rarer.

And that’s all I got about the color green.

Saturday, November 1, 2014


My editor at The Buzz Magazines asked me to write about Brookwood, a community for functionally disabled adults just outside of Houston.

I didn't know what to expect ... but it really is an amazing place.

Click here for the article.