Life is not about folding clothes neatly.

A thought about Marie Kondo and the clutter revolution

I am a self declared neat freak, (anyone who knows me can attest to this). I’ve followed the Marie Kondo craze as diligently as I would watch a clothing cycle go by, and to the avid followers of this tidying up phenomenon I judge no one, to each their own. I’ve heard about the woman, the show, the cult like following, the memes, the hype, of weeding out your stuff like you do a garden; and I am left with major questions and disagreement in my mind.

What “sparks joy” for me, or you, or anyone else in the stuff we choose to keep is superbly objective and deeply personal. Of course we keep things around for too long because we need the comfort and consistency it provides. The concept of compensating for emotional stability with the incessant purchase of things is another debate entirely. However the little things that make us happy aren’t necessary convenient or neat or placed into a well folded category. They are memories, moments, personal and communal history, culture and the connective tissue between generations. Ancient Greeks and Egyptians used to fill the tombs of their loved ones with stuff; gold coins, cloth, food, trinkets and jewelry. The concept of having reminders of your life in the afterlife was imperative to giving the departed a smooth passage into the afterlife. These untouchable and unfold-able threads, are in the stuff we give to each other and the stuff we keep for ourselves. What is fundamentally missing in Marie Kondo’s joy sparking philosophy, is understanding our need to constantly acquire useless, pointless, time wasting and money wasting STUFF, instead of sharing what we all have with our friends, family and loved ones.

Yes throw the 80 corks of wine you have, but keep the 5 that tell the story of your experiences with them. Yes throw away the torn and tattered badly made clothing that doesn’t fit you any more but keep the suit jacket that was hand sewn for your grandmother in the 1940’s even though you never really wear it. Below you will find my personal list of what to keep and why in this world of, forced minimalist trends and “get rid of it all cause you won’t take it with you when you die” lifestyles.

  1. De-clutter your brain along with your house cause if you’re going to throw shit out but still think too much and clutter your brain with old thoughts and old memories you’re a memory hoarder. Make room for new ones and keep the ones that truly matter. Meditate, plant things in your home, repair that thing that keeps bothering you, focus on a single task and stop cluttering your day with unnecessary thoughts.
  2. Don’t Keep anything an ex lover gave you that doesn’t represent who you are. Give it to a homeless person, sell it, or throw it in the trash. I’ve done ALL 3 with 3 different men. It felt great. The only exception you should be making is for gifts like music and books; because someone’s inspirational words and music you can always carry with you.
  3. Keep theater tickets, concert tickets, old family photos, a dried flower bouquet from your first boyfriend, family trinkets, and your grandmother’s silver. But don’t just keep it in an attic somewhere never to be seen. It should be displayed, made into art, re purposed; but never kept closed up in some sterile box. Memories, and family history are always part of who we are.
  4. Books and music should never be thrown out… Give them to a friend, donate to a local library, read them to an ailing parent, but NEVER just throw books out. Even your childhood ones. Those are memories worth keeping. Instead of throwing away an old novel you got at a second hand shop, don’t get trashy novels disguised as literature, glossy fashion magazines, or self help books. Those are ridiculous and waste your time and money on this earth.

We are defined more about the stuff we keep and the stories we share; and less about the stuff we buy to pretend to be something or someone we are not, including Marie Kondo’s personal philosophy on a neat, clean, Japanese lifestyle that doesn’t seem to include the human connection that some, unorganized, inconvenient and messy lifestyles have in common.

7 Hours Difference — A life


-What time is it there ?


-I never remember the time difference.

-7 hours difference, it has been my whole life.

Time zones have been a part of my daily life ever since I can remember. My mother would contact her relatives in the United States when we lived in Greece, long before social media of course, or even a steady phone line (for those who remember a time before smart phones). I would call my American grandmother (at great cost for international calls) once a month, and all other communication was with letter writing and post cards. (yes letters; remember those??)

At 14 my parents and I moved to the United States, where maintaining communication with friends and loved ones back in Greece was an exercise not only in keeping up with daily life, but also the Greek language. I distinctly recall my friend sending me spelling corrections in my letters to her when she would reply. (thanks Georgia after all those years).

At 23 I moved back to Athens, and communicated  weekly with cell phones and regular calls and emails with my friends in London, Paris and the U.S.  I would stay awake in the very late hours (12- 3am) to talk to my friends in New York, and try to catch up as best as we could with cheap international calling cards just to fill each other in on our lives.

Now back in New York with chats, Viber, Whats-app, Facebook messenger, Instagram, time is relative. Time difference almost doesn’t matter. I talk to my close friends after they have put their kids to bed. They stay up for a night cap and a quiet moment, and I text back and forth at 5 am in the morning with my cousins and best friends before I go to work. I live between two time zones, always carving time to connect, talk, share our lives whenever possible.

It’s somewhat easier to stay connected with technology on our side; but still that phone call once a week, once a month, or even once a day; happens between those seven hours difference. I feel like a double agent, calculating, managing time in a split world between the one I live here in New York and the one I live with my friends and family back in Greece. We steal moments from our present lives to share stories, gossip, news, family pictures, and most recently most of my writing here.

What time is it there?  5.30am–

What are you doing up that early??

Taking time to talk with you…

What time zone are you in?


The Persistence of Memory– Salvador Dali