My Big Wardrobe Surprise...



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My last several posts have been about my experiences as I work my way through Marie Kondo's amazing book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up:  The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.

If you have not yet read this book, I hope you will, because this book truly is all that it says:  life-changing, and magic.

So far, I have gone through clothing both at my place, and JC's.   At JC's, I've also sorted through the books, (most of the) papers, bathroom cabinets, and most of the kitchen.   I've learned so much along the way, and I've found myself continually astonished at the transformation.   

I feel like I have room to breathe, to move, and to think.

When I began the KonMari Method a few weeks ago, clothing was the first thing I tackled.   I held every article of clothing, every pair of shoes, every belt, bag, pieces of jewelry, and I asked myself, "Does this spark joy?"

If the answer was yes, I kept it.

In the weeks that have passed, I can honestly say that dressing has never been easier, in my entire life.  Everything fits.  Most things go together beautifully.   I love everything I put on!   When I open a drawer, or walk in the closet, I know that whatever I pick up or take off a hanger, is going to make me feel great.   I don't obsess anymore about having some specific style or style descriptor.   I don't worry that something in my closet isn't my style.   I simply ask myself "Does this spark joy?" ** 

**(Let me note that I have also learned to dress for the weather.  And that Weather Channel is full of lies and deceit and it is best to assume that the wind chill will make it feel ten degrees colder than whatever Weather Channel is saying).

The real surprise for me, is that I have discovered a uniformity and consistency in what I wear, and I love that!   It means that I can get dressed, and then move on with my day.   I don't have to sit and ponder (okay, obsess) that I should have worn something else, or fidget that something doesn't fit, or fret that it wasn't the look I was going for.   Instead, I put on things that spark joy, and I get on with my life.

Here are some photos of some of my favorite outfits from the past couple of weeks.   I know, I know... they're selfies.   In an exciting turn of events, I unearthed a tripod I forgot we had, while sorting a closet.   So I am going to figure out the timer on my camera and (hopefully) start taking some nicer pictures, that don't entail using the short-round mirror.

So... take a moment, have a good chuckle at my selfies, and have a great day!   ~xoxo


I wore this to meet and rehearse a scene with a friend from my acting class.

I wore an unlined rain jacket, cap and gloves with this outfit.   I lurrrrrrved this outfit, until I got outside and realized Weather Channel was about 7-10 degrees off because they neglected to mention the icy wind that managed to collapse my umbrella twice, before pulling it inside out.   So while I loved my outfit, it was a sodden, wet fail for this particular day.   Also, the Tod's bag?   Not quite as waterproof as one might expect for the price.   It did dry out quickly though.

I promise, this outfit did not look quite so goofy in person!   I wore this yesterday to acting class and two dance classes.   I am wearing a ton of clothes here:  three layers of tops, two pairs of dance tights, some leggings made out of scuba material, and boots.   And, of course, underpinnings...

...and then I added a glazed leather jacket, cap, and gloves, and was perfectly warm.  I wound up wearing most of this through the dance classes, and peeling off layers of sweaters.

This was an outfit I wore on one of those days where it seemed like I drove all over Atlanta doing work-related errands.   In truth, I wore this necklace twice since my initial clothing purge, only to realize that, while I thought it sparked joy, it kept me from wearing other necklaces that I truly love.   So I am going to say farewell to this particular necklace.

Same outfit, but with a suede leather moto, checkered scarf and my trusty cadet cap.   I have seven or eight other winter hats, but this is the one I always seem to grab.

This has been one of my favorite outfits, worn for an evening out.   Apparently my outfit was a hit, because I have never had so many septuagenarians, and one very persistent garlicky and overperfumed Frenchman, lay on such terrible pick-up lines.

Little did I know when I took this picture, that a few hours later, that smile would look (be) a lot more pasted-on...

This was one of my favorite outfits I have worn in 2015.   I recycled the jacket and jeans from the previous outfit, and changed tops to a bodysuit + embellished sweater, and different heels.   I wore this for acting class, and then out to lunch with a bunch of my classmates after.   I got a lot of compliments.








The Kitchen, After, Part One



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I cannot believe this is the same kitchen.

I was able to store a lot of everyday items, within easy reach, including scissors and pens.


Three hours after I started, I have found myself entirely amazed at the results.  

I have not yet tidied:

The fridge.
The cabinets above the fridge.  
The cabinets above the stove (that is liquor, and that is JC's to sort out).
The cabinets holding tableware (plates, bowls, glasses, stemware).


What I did tidy:
Pantry items
Storage containers
Pots, pans and baking dishes.

I placed like with like: All of my coffee mugs, accessories, coffee, tea, and sugar reside on the same shelf. All of the baking items are together. All of the spices are together. All canned items are together.

And may I say, OH MY GAWD. I cannot believe how much space we were wasting, previously. I threw away two smallish trash bags, but the amount of open space that came out of those two trash bags, seems much larger than the volume discarded. And I can already see the ease of use that is going to entail, by placing like with like. All the pots are together. All of the basic baking ingredients are together. I know where everything is. If you asked me to make you a cup of cocoa (and of course, I would make you a cup of cocoa!), I can lay my hands on all of the ingredients in under 30 seconds.

I am smiling ear-to-ear right now. This was three hours very well spent.

I am calling this "Part One", because I have other cabinets to finish, including the tableware, in the rightmost cabinet seen below.


A reminder of what the 'before' looked like, emptied out onto the counters.

And the 'after'.

In for a penny, in for a pound... or, the tidying task that nearly broke me...



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A nefarious-looking lone sweet potato.   Why is there always one sweet potato left out of the bag, that gets somehow overlooked?

I never cared for Dr. Suess - as a child, I always found something about the stories lurid and unsettling, as if someone had crawled deep into the corners of my dreams, and swept out all the bits of lurking nightmare and put those into a storybook.

But if you have ever read The Cat in the Hat... that completely describes what discarding and tidying my kitchen is like:  The Freakin' Pink Bathtub Ring. 

To clarify, the more I have cleaned, the bigger the mess has gotten.

This was supposed to be two cupboards that held food.  

I thought I would empty off six shelves, wipe it down, put things back I was keeping, and jot down items on a grocery list, easy-peasy.

Nope.

This has quickly ballooned into most of the cupboards.   In for a penny, in for a pound.   If I'm going to have to put the storage containers and disposable cutlery back together in the same cabinet, I might as well empty and wipe down that cabinet too.   And break up the little party of complimentary coffee  and water bottles that have mysteriously congregated there.    



  See that little bare patch of counter, to the right of the sink, near the bag of flour?   It's about 8" x 8"?   That's where I stand to get to the upper cabinets.   I now have absolutely no doubt that evolution exists, because I am calling on my ape-like climbing skills again and again.

I have had to employ my best cat- and monkey-climbing skills to get in and out of the upper cupboards, which entails climbing up on the counter, while trying not to pull down anything on top of me or come crashing down.

About ten minutes into the emptying part of the deep cupboards that are puzzle-box pieced together in the corner with the sink, I realized that a Prada cashmere sweater is not proper attire for having to lie down and wriggle your whole body inside a cupboard to get to the back corner, where the builders never bothered to sweep their sawdust away, after finishing off the cabinet.   By my best guess, that was probably 15 years ago.

15 years of back-corner dust and sawdust.

Don't be fooled.   This space was a lot deeper and narrower than it looks.   It has a second shelf above it.  Turns out I can fit most of my body inside this space without even having to curl up.

And as I was wriggling around in there, trying to work my left arm free to get at a big pile of sawdust in one corner, it occurred to me to wonder:   I am five feet tall, in my fully-grown adult form.   I was always the smallest kid in class.

How is it, I wonder, that nobody ever succumbed to the temptation of trying to stuff me into a locker?
Either I looked meaner, or was meaner, than I remember.   Or perhaps I was very good at melting into the background scenery and disappearing when I saw other kids getting hazed.

Anyway, here are some super-fun pictures of this experience, so far.   The cupboards over the fridge, which contain small kitchen appliances:  crock-pot, coffee grinder, soft cooler, will also get emptied. Under the kitchen sink was finished a few weeks ago when we replaced the garbage disposal.

So far, I have taken a gret deal of pleasure in going through the KonMari Method of discarding and tidying... but not today.  Today... is The Kitchen.

I effin' hate The Kitchen.

I found the candy stash on the top shelf of the food cabinet.   Mmmmm.   But wine gums are no match for The Kitchen.    The Kitchen is possibly one of the four things in the entire Universe not made better with candy.   Candy does not make this experience better.

Well.   I would love to stand here and complain all afternoon... but The Kitchen ain't gonna tidy itself.

#sigh.


An additional view of the fun.

Twelve Days Later...



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Twelve days ago - January 12th to be precise - I began the monumental task of discarding and tidying everything in my home, and JC's, using the "all at once" method by Marie Kondo.

Here is what has happened so far:

On January 12th, I went through all of my clothing, shoes, accessories and jewelry at JC's.   This comprises the bulk of my everyday wardrobe.   This was an eight-hour day.

On the 14th, I went through all of the books at JC's.   In truth, this didn't take long, because we had already culled a lot of books during the holidays.   So I moved on to papers at JC's, and I am still not yet finished.    I spent about two hours on this, and got a lot done.

A few days after that, I went through all of the clothing, shoes, accessories and jewelry at MY place.   Ye gods.   Another eight-hour day.

On Monday the 19th, with that pile of papers still eyeing me reproachfully from the table, I decided I would tackle the bathroom cabinets, instead.   Of course, I decided to do this 90 minutes before heading out to meet friends for dinner.   I reasoned that papers would take too long, whereas one cabinet, two drawers, and some makeup shouldn't take too long.   20 minutes at most, I thought, and I can put on my makeup and put my hair in hot rollers while I am culling.

Wrong!   20 minutes.   Hah!   Over an hour later, I had almost everything sorted, and a bag of trash ready to go.

But my makeup will have to wait for another day.

This past Wednesday, my theatre partner and I rented a u-haul, and I finally got some theatrical set pieces moved out of my condo, and to their permanent storage place.   Man that felt great, to stop postponing, and start hauling stuff out!

With the theatrical stuff out of the way, I sat down and tackled theatrical costumes, accessories and jewelry.  Some things - not much -  were pulled for resale or donation, but by and large, the real triumph was streamlining and opening up more space.   I did this by rolling clothing and placing it vertically in bins, and getting rid of unnecessary packaging.    This took, by my rough estimate, another ten hours over a couple of days.

I also tackled DVD's.   I gave away or donated about 2/3 of what I had.  I was feeling unhappy about the giant stack I still had left, until it occurred to me to take them out of the cases, and store them in a box. I kept some cases...


These are the DVDs I kept, taking up a heap of space.

Here are the DVDs, mostly removed from their cases.   Look at the stack of DVDs.   That's how much space they take, minus cases.   I kept cases for JC's games, special edition live concerts that have accompanying books, and cases from videos of theatrical productions I have been a part of (for the time being).



The reason I outline all of the above, is because I have realized a couple of huge home truths here:

1.  I vastly underestimate the amount of stuff I have to go through.

2.   I vastly underestimate the amount of time it will take to go through my stuff.


I want to point this out, in case you are thinking of starting, or about to start, your own discarding and tidying process.



Some other things I have experienced, or realized in this process:

1.   There were items that did not 'spark joy' when I initially held them, but I talked myself into thinking I felt joy.   A pair of beautiful blue satin Badgley Mischka pumps, for one thing.    I set them aside to list on eBay.   As I was working on the listing, I decided they sparked joy after all and put them back in my closet.   The next day, while I was driving to dance class, I realized that that was a mistake, because now these shoes are in the way of things that give an instant thrill when I put them on.   I came home, and listed them.

But what I realized is that if it doesn't spark joy the first time I hold it, it never will.   Talking myself into thinking I feel joy in a pair of shoes or a book is pointless, because now it is in the way of the true joy-bringers.

Note that I use 'spark joy' a lot in this writing.   That is because this is the defining term Marie Kondo uses, when deciding what items you should discard, and what you should keep.

2.   Getting dressed is a much faster process - and thrilling!  Once I am dressed, I rarely change my mind about pieces.   I get the business of dressing finished and move on to other stuff, feeling clear-minded and happy with my choices.

I feel like a million bucks when I get dressed, whether it's going out for dinner, running errands, ballet class, or hanging out at home.

3.   Not once, have I felt any regret over anything I have let go.  I have not missed anything.  I have donated around 15 garbage bags of stuff, and listed another three or four bags worth of stuff on. eBay.   I have also thrown away at least eight bags of trash or recycled stuff.   


4.   I need to be patient.   I am not decluttering and organizing one residence, but two.

5.   This isn't an all-or-nothing process.   I will get to take another shot at this, and another, and another.   I found myself feeling panicky at times, thinking I had to get this all done perfectly, right now, like I'd never get to do it again, and wind up stuck with stuff that didn't spark joy.   Duh.   I can totally go back through my closet or cabinets in another week, or month, or year.   Anytime I damn well please.

I am already looking ahead to another walk-through the clothing, jewelry shoes, and accessories.   I have items that spark joy, that are going to be culled - because now that I have had two weeks of outfits I love, I can see where some of the things left in my closet are ready to be passed along - donated, gifted, sold, recycled, tossed.

It is a very good feeling.


The KonMari Method: Clothing, Part Two...



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This post is part of a series, outlining my progress, as I work my way through the KonMari Method.


An 'after' picture.   Everything has been put away in its own place, tomorrow's outfit is folded on the chair.   And that bin under my little dressing table has been put away since taking this photo...


On Wednesday, I tackled 'Part Two' of my clothing - the wardrobe I keep at my condo.   Off-season things, special occasion things, and enough basics that I don't have to pack a bag if I decide to spend an extra night at my place.   

I expected (and actually stated, in print on this blog), that this would be a quicker task than my first day, when I went through the clothing, shoes, accessories, and jewelry that I keep at the boyfriend's.   That was Monday, and it took over an hour to pull everything from closets and drawers.   By my best estimate, I had gone through the bulk of my wardrobe on Monday.

Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha.  #slowclapofhands.

Nope.

It took about an hour to pull everything from my main closet, plus a storage closet, plus an armoire.

From there, I went through the painstaking process of picking up each item, one thing at a time, and asking myself, "Does this spark joy?"



I paused to take some photos about 8 minutes into the process...

Yes.   That's a laptop in there.

My partially emptied closet.   Left side.

Right side.

And this is most of everything, pulled out.   So here is where I started my selecting and discarding process.So yes.   I picked up every last piece of everything that you see in this photo, and asked myself whether it sparked joy...

Everything that was a 'yes', I kept.  

Everything that was a 'no', I set aside to re-sell, donate, or throw away.


There were a number of things I was on the fence about - so I set those aside to come back to.   When I found myself undecided on more than two things in a row, I knew that it was time to take a break.   I would walk away, sip some water, or some coffee, stretch, have a bite to eat, read some Harry Potter.   My little breaks were anywhere from two to fifteen minutes long.

In every case, when I walked back to that 'decision' pile, I was able to look clearly at the items I was uncertain about, and decide to discard.  I thanked the item for the pleasure, or the understanding, or the creature comfort it had brought me, and I put it into one of the discard piles.


Eight hours later...

I was able to get rid of probably 30 shoeboxes.   I relocated most of the shoes to one of the hanging shelf organizers, which I placed against the inner right closet wall.  Many of the empty shoeboxes went into the armoire drawers, to sort items. 

I had intended to use the larger shoeboxes, the ones that my boots and high heels came in, to organize 2-3 pairs of shoes in, and neatly arrange these on my closet floor.   But then I realized I no longer needed these shelves in my armoire, so I relocated them instead.


I am still amazed at how much space I cleared out by doing three things:  taking shoes out of their boxes, taking stockings & tights out of their packaging, and rolling clothing.   Mind = Blown.

And for the first time in 4 1/2 years, the Boyfriend has a drawer of his own.   It's about time, I suppose... His belonging were previously stuffed onto one of the temporary shelves in the large section of the armoire.

The shoeboxes that I didn't use here, I set aside because I plan to use those when I sort through our theatrical costumes and props.



Closet, Left Side.   I relocated one of my hanging shelf organizers to the left inner wall.   Hats, shirts, scarves, and sweaters all live here now.

I love that I can see everything!

There are so many great things that I have encountered since beginning this process last Monday:

1.   I know exactly where everything is in my closet.

2.  All this week, I have put together some outfits that I am thrilled with, with very little tweaking or changing.

3.  I have such a feeling of inner peace when I walk through my living spaces - and these are really only two rooms so far.


Following Marie Kondo's list, books are next, and then papers.   I have already sorted through the books at the Boyfriend's place, and most of my papers.    I anticipate that this process will take far, far longer at my place.  I have a lifetime of papers stored there.

And I cannot wait to start!





The Morning After...



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When I look outside today, it is all gray and fogged and spitting rain.   But when I woke up, this was how I felt - bright, sunny, and all set to paint my own blue sky.    I did not realize I would have this kind of peace already, just by de-cluttering one part of my life.

I cannot wait to get back to it.   I want this feeling every day.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, or, How I Spent My Day Today.



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After:  These hangers all used to have things on them.   Those things were either put into drawers, or discarded.


Lately, my sister and I have been contemplating minimalism.   I think that this was the very natural result of our shared holiday season - full of too much delicious food and drink, an inundation of gifts, and the frenzied atmosphere that was everywhere, of THIS IS CHRISTMAS AND YOU MUST PARTAKE.

I have to pause and consider what a first-world sentence that last one is.   Too much food, drink, presents, and celebrations.   Wow.   I'm a first-world douchebag.

But it's true.   Left to my own devices, my perfect Christmas season involves performing in a holiday show, watching a live performance of The Nutcracker somewhere, watching two or three more Nutcrackers on television, and hanging out with friends and family, but in a low-key, relaxed sort of way.

January found me with a surfeit of everything, and desperately eager to simplify and pare things down.

So... just a few days ago, my sister and I were discussing Marie Kondo, and her acclaimed book,, "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up".   I googled the author, read an excerpt from her book, and immediately downloaded it for Kindle.   How about that, folks?   Back in the day, (ahem, the 1990's), you ordered the book, and waited for the company to eventually ship it out, and then for the USPS to eventually deliver it.   Or you got in your car and drove to a bookstore, and hoped they had a copy, and that it didn't have coffee stains all over it.

I decided I wanted the book, and within minutes, I had lost myself in its electronic pages.   These are magical times we live in, people.  Magic, I tell ya.

That was Saturday morning.

Today, at 11:43am, I finished the book and messaged my sister, telling her I was ready to roll forward with the KonMari Method.   My excitement was palpable.

So let me tell you a little bit about the book, and the Method.   It is all about 'tidying' - i.e., decluttering what you don't love, and finding a place for everything that you do.  I know, right?    It sounds like every other de-cluttering book that has come out in the past 10 years.

This is different.   Here is why:

Ms. Kondo tells the reader:

1.   You must follow this Method precisely, in the order she outlines, with no tweaks, adjustments, or excuses.

2.   You must follow the decluttering categories in the order she outlines.  She begins with clothing, moves to books, papers, and miscellaneous items, eventually ending with nostalgic mementos.

3.   You do this all at once.  Not in little 15-minutes a day here, a drawer or shelf there, that so many other methods recommend.   With the KonMari Method, you see and feel immediate results, and it keeps you moving forward.   

4.   Here is the most important part:   You must handle every one of your possessions, in your hands, and ask yourself, "Does this spark joy?"

If the answer is no, out the door it goes.

The end result is that you are left surrounded by things that spark joy your soul - and only those things.   

The 'white noise' disappears.

And it is magical.


From the moment I started reading this book, I was in a welter of impatience to start.   So this morning, when I finished the book, I got started.   I tackled the bulk of my wardrobe, which I keep at JC's condo.  

Here is how things progressed:

At 11:43am I finished reading the book.  "Haha", says I to myself, "a two-room condo?   I will have this entire place wrapped up by 4pm".

At 11:50am, I began assembling all of my clothing, shoes, accessories (bags, belts, gloves, hats, jewelry) into a big pile... I had to search the coat closet, the dryer, the laundry hamper (I held the items and put them back), our main closet, three drawers stuffed to the gills with clothing, and infinite shoeboxes and little storage boxes tucked everywhere.

At 1:00pm I finally had emptied out my wardrobe.   Yes.   It took that long.   That's when I started to realize that 4pm might be a bit ambitious to sort everything.

At 1:05pm I started de-cluttering.   I took every piece of clothing, every pair of shoes, every pair of stockings, every belt, every set of earrings into my hands, and asked myself if it sparked joy.   

If I was unsure, I set it aside and came back to it.

And in every case, when I came back to it, it was with the knowledge that it needed to go.

I was surprised to find, within minutes of beginning, that my hands felt warm and tingly, and there was a huge smile on my face.   I loved every moment of this.

When I found myself starting to sift through things fast, and inclined to skip over handling stuff, I would walk away for a few minutes, take a little breather and come back.

By 3pm, I was amazed to realize it was 3pm, but I figured I could still get most of the list done.  My sister pointed out that the book says it usually takes six months to tidy and de-clutter.   What the whaaaat?   I guess I skimmed past that part.   I had some crackpot notion that "all at once" meant "a 24-hour window".

At 5:38pm I was rolling socks to put away in drawers.   

At 5:52, I did not know I owned so many pairs of socks and underwear.

At 5:53  I finally admitted to my own self that clothing, shoes and accessories were all I was going to get done.

At 7:10pm, the last pair of socks was rolled up and put away.   PHEW.   Eight hours, fifteen minutes. I have about four 33-gallon bags of items that will be leaving, and a bag of trash.

I cannot begin to tell you how empowering and exciting this was - and exhausting!  I handled hundreds of items, ran back and forth around the house, up and down the ladder to get to the higher closet shelves.   Over the course of the day, I only stopped to use the washroom, drink some water, and send my sister updates on my progress.

For the first time, since the day I brought a toothbrush over here... I know exactly where every last earring, belt, and flamenco flower is in this condo.   Ask me where a particular pair of stockings is - I will go get them right now.

I am feeling very much at one with my world right now.


Here are some before, during, and after pictures for today:


Before:  One of three dresser drawers, where I had things shoved in higgledy-piggledy.  This photo fails to capture the true higgledy-piggledyness of what was there.
After:   Items rolled up and placed vertically.   Some stuff I still kept stacked, because I can't roll a corset.

After:   Shirts, shorts, and dancewear is all rolled up and placed vertically.   So much more fits in here, than when it was folded and stacked - and I can see all of it.

After:  Everything is all sorted and what I could roll and place vertically, I did.

Before:  The Closet.   The right wall is JC's.   He is planning to tackle it this week.

After:   I tidied the shelf over his clothes, and took my stack of scarves and hats off the lower one.


Before:  The back wall of the closet is mine, but I share it with other things, such as toilet paper and rags and electronics bits...

Before: ... Luggage, and more toilet paper.  And bins of electronics bits.  And my box of hosiery on the floor.

Before:  My shoe storage 'solution':  a hanging bag plus stacks of boxes on the floor.
After:  Overall, just more streamlined, with fewer items and more space. 



After: This looks more like what I had always imagined...

During:   I dumped about 1/3 of the jewelry on the windowsill to sort.

After:   I got my jewelry sorted.   For the first time pretty much ever, I can see everything.  I have had some of these pieces since I was four years old.

During:  All mah stuff on the floor.  And windowsills. And nightstand.  The bed was reserved for everything I kept.  That's my jewelry box sitting on it.  And hangers.

During:  "On the next episode of Hoarders"...


During:  The windowsills were taken up with belts, gloves, and flamenco accessories.

During:  At this point, I had placed everything that I feel 'sparked joy' on the bed. I know - that's a lot of joy.



After:   Closet Nirvana.

After:   I was able to re-purpose this Parisian-theme hatbox to hold flamenco castanets, flamenco fans, my eyeglasses, a pitchpipe, and a box of Hermes scarf-folding cards.    Pro:  now I can find the castanets and fans to practice with, and won't have to hunt everywhere.   Con:  now I have no excuse not to practice. 

After:  The jewelry box, restored to its rightful home.





So... what is next?   The clothing at my place, and it will be a two-parter:  1.  my personal wardrobe, which should be quick, as the bulk of my wardrobe is at JC's.  And 2.  all the theatrical costumes I have stored.   I anticipate this step will be very long and painful, and will take more than a day.

After clothing, the KonMari Method says to move on to books.   We actually culled the books here  at JC's on New Year's Weekend.  But I have a lot of books at my place.   My goal is to empty a bookshelf and use it for costume accessories and wigs.

But that's another post for another day.   Peace out, y'all.

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