Gorilla Zoë.

I have two dogs who are like Abbott and Costello. One’s taller and skinner, the other is shorter and chubbier. Both are hilarious.

Cleo, my Doberman, only eats when someone’s around to keep her company. I try to feed her before I start my bathroom routine in the am, because otherwise she’s following me around the house indifferent to the deliciousness that awaits her. If I even walk away while she’s eating, she stops and looks at me like, “where you goin’?”

My Rottweiler, Zoë is the complete opposite. She doesn’t wait for food, she demands it. When you buy her a new bag of food, she plops down next to it like she’s on guard duty. And when I fill her bowl, she eats like it’s her last meal even though she knows she eats every 12 hours. Last night, though, she went too far.

When I come home, I stay busy doing this and that, leading up to the climax of my evening, when dinner is served. In all of that hustle and bustle I sometimes forget that Zoë is always hungry and only patient enough to wait until I arrive home.

Normally, she’ll bark and jump at me when I go too long without feeding her. And don’t let me sit down with a plate of food or she’ll go bananas.

Today Zoë didn’t bark, she didn’t yell. She came up next to me in that false affectionate way that she does, and proceeded to lick my leg. Yep, just licking my leg like a chicken bone. I guess we’re finding inventive ways to communicate now. I said, “Food” and she stopped to head to her bowl, but I’m still perturbed.

I Am Not A Cat Lady: The Arrival.

A few weeks after I agreed to become a long-term cat-sitter, my sister moved Henry, Albie, and all of their accoutrements into my apartment. I quickly went from enjoying my solo existence to sharing a space with two new four-legged roommates, a litter box, and a five-foot-tall cat tree.

The actual arrival of the cats was a lot less dramatic than I expected it to be: my sister transported the boys from their cages directly into the litter box–“Now they’ll remember where it is!”–and then instructed me to let them explore their new home at their own pace. Albie immediately began moseying around and sniffing everything in sight; Henry, in a move that resembled my behavior during freshman orientation weekend at college, bolted under the bed and hid there for the next seven hours.

While that exploration (or lack thereof) took place and my new roommates’ realness began to sink in, I peppered my sister with a series of cat care questions. The full interrogation lasted long enough for Henry to start cautiously peeking out from under the bed, but the items below struck me as the most important (and struck my sister as the most hilarious):

  • “Will they die if they eat chocolate?” Before the cat nephews arrived, I knew one thing about dogs–don’t give them chocolate–and zero things about cats. I was pleased to learn that my dog knowledge was transferable when my sister confirmed that giving Henry and Albie chocolate was, in fact, a bad idea. Score one for the pet novice.
  • “What’s the deal with litter boxes?” Okay, I know what litter boxes are for–but I still forced my sister to walk me through the emptying process, the frequency at which new litter should be added, and the exact brand and variety of litter that I was expected to buy. One detail that she conveniently left out: the amount of waste that these ten-pound cats were capable of producing. It both impressed and disgusted me.
  • “Do you see anything in my apartment that’s at risk of being destroyed?” To be fair, my sibling was mostly correct when she claimed that my belongings would be safe in the presence of cats: upon their arrival, no iPhone chargers were chewed, picture frames were sniffed but generally left standing, and the breakable items that I had moved to the top of my bookshelf were safely out of reach. However, Albie immediately discovered that the screen covering my large window was actually a wonderful, climbable wall. Ugh.
  • “How can I train them to sleep on the couch instead of my bed and/or face?” My bizarre sister actually loved having the little beasts curl up in her bed, so she didn’t consider this to be a serious question like I did. She left me with a small spray bottle and suggested that I spritz the cats with a bit of water that if they hopped into my bed. Although I was happily left alone for most of that first night, the spray bottle proved to be most unhelpful on subsequent nights as the cats got comfortable with their new home and with testing my patience.

By the end of their first day in my apartment, Albie seemed pretty content with his new abode, and Henry emerged from under my bed to finally scout out the space–when I sprawled on my couch to watch tv, he even curled up for a short nap by my feet. I may have even let out an accidental “Awww!” It was an unexpectedly cute way to cap off the cat nephews’ arrival…and a wonderful misdirect for how the rest of that week would go.

Why I love The Golden Girls.

I always tell people that the first time I encountered The Golden Girls was in the TV guide portion of the Friday Plain Dealer. That’s just wild to even think about. I was maybe ten or eleven looking for something fun to watch. How was I supposed to know that golden implied elderly, and not blonde girls playing in a treehouse? The Olsen twins ruled the Earth at that time so that was my frame of reference.

I can’t tell you why I kept watching when I saw that it was clearly not the show I expected. I don’t know how many episodes I finished before I was hooked, or what joke stopped me from changing the channel.

What I do know is today I can watch every single episode, know every joke being delivered, and still laugh harder than the laugh track.

The Golden Girls has been with me through a lot. For more than 15 years. I really appreciate it on the super sad days when I think I’ve forgotten how to laugh. But I love it more on the regular days when someone’s talking about life and I’m reminded of how I learned what life was about in the first place.

I learned that life can get better even in old age. That men may come and go, but friends last forever. I learned that growing old is hard, but not that different when you’re fifty than when you’re fifteen. I learned that death happens again and again, but it should only be a reminder to make the most of the time you have left. And in the last episode, I learned that no matter how bad life can screwed you over, you can find true love.

Some of my friends may not realize what a profound impact The Golden Girls has had on my life. Many share Golden Girls mugs, sweatshirts, and more on my Facebook page – once, someone actually bought me a shirt instead of pushing me to spend my own money – but few know how deeply it has shaped my personality.

I hope I haven’t told you this before, but once a friend of mine in high school told me I was mean. I was super sad, because I never intend to be mean, but I realize that I grew up watching love expressed in asshole ways. There’s one episode where Dorothy Zbonark tells her mother, Sophia Petrillo, she feels bad hearing about how long and painful it was giving birth to her. In a healthy, loving relationship, the parent would’ve taken the hint and stopped, but Sophia is a button pusher.

Dorothy: Ma, you’re really hurting my feelings.

Sophia: Not as much as you hurt my uni.

The audience laughed, I laughed, so I thought this was normal and treated my friends the same way, out of love, of course. My high school friend said he finally came to understand me, but I sometimes wish I could wear a sign saying “Sophia Petrillo is my spirit animal.”

Today, looking back, I don’t regret watching a single episode. I’m just glad The Golden Girls was such a wonderfully diverse show. There was hardly a subject they were scared to touch: teen pregnancy, artificial insemination, gay artists, people you wish would ‘drop dead,’ exes you went back to, illegal immigrants, orphans…need I go on? I say all this to say that there’s something wonderful to learn and share in every episode. This is how it begins…

Romance.

I’ve been reading this book called When It’s Real and wow–I can’t put it down. What I love about this book is that I get to live vicariously through Vaughn, a girl who gets the guy of her childhood fantasies. I don’t want to spoil the book before Saturday, but I will say that the guy is a pop star and Vaughn is the girl-next-door. Ya know…me. And the guy could be any of the celebrities I’ve been helplessly in love with since I was six years old. A few funny stories about that:

  1. The first pop star I fell in love with was Usher. Somehow my mom let me listen to the My Way album when I was practically a baby. I played it on repeat in a big black boom box that I broke in a raging fit during puberty. To this day, I still love Usher, but there was something especially adorable about young Usher. Likewise, I’ve loved Justin Timberlake since the Bye, Bye, Bye days. Somehow I saw past the ramen noodle haired facade, and appreciated the talent that keeps him relevant today.
  2. My first, serious celebrity crush was on Omarion from B2K. He was the lead singer, which automatically grants him bonus points in my book, but he always played the good guy. He could sing, he could dance, and he could tell J-Boog how to get his girl back – with a puppy. My first concert was The Scream Tour starring B2K, IMX, my mother, and a jersey dress. I loved Omarion for a couple months and then his bandmate, J-Boog, cut his hair and I lost my damn mind. I suddenly became indifferent toward Omarion, almost veering toward disgust, and I fell hard for J-Boog. I’m laughing now thinking of a moment in my life where I printed a picture of his face and cried over it because I knew he would never go for me. Ah, to be young.
  3. After B2K, there were Chris Brown and Trey Songz. In the early days they both seemed so sweet, like Luther Vandross’ children. Today I see them for the sex-pots they truly are, but that didn’t stop me from getting VIP tickets to the Between the Sheets Tour a couple Valentine’s Days ago. The awesome thing about Chris Brown entering the scene, was that he was within dating range. It wasn’t creepy and impossible to imagine myself with him. I daydreamed about meeting Chris on my prettiest teenage day, and acting all nonchalant so I wouldn’t appear like just another fan. He’d open up to me because I was ‘different’ and we’d exchange numbers and love notes until we became celeb-official. Yeah, never happened, but this makes my next story extra funny.
  4. Next there’s Big Sean, the awkward guy that I accidentally fell for because his albums stayed with me a whole summer. I remember seeing the I Do It video and being totally unimpressed, but then I heard Finally Famous 1 andand did a 180. When I found out I could see him in concert and meet him for less than 100 dollars, I jumped at it. This was my chance to play my cards and be the cool chick to steal his heart. A couple hours before the concert he was standing within four feet of me and I was too scared to move. My cousin pushed me to grow some balls, but they remained completely nonexistent. Fortunately, a photo included in the deal so I had no choice but to stand close to him and smile. He didn’t automatically fall for my beauty and charm like I’d hoped, but I can’t totally blame him since I suck at nonchalance. My plan failed. I console myself with the thought that he was looking straight at me while I rapped all the words to his songs and that maybe he loved me for at least ten seconds that night.
  5. Lately though, I’ve been off pop stars. Actors are where it’s at! It all started with Kingsman and Taron Egerton. The problem is, I went to see the movie with my dear-friend Becki and…let’s just say we’re not friends anymore. Just kidding! We can be friends until I meet him and he’s officially mine. Taron Egerton is not only wonderful for his accent–it’s his smile, his arms, his charm, his wink, and this video I just googled that melted me to the floor. https://youtu.be/ZGjg–Tcwuw When Kingsman 2 comes out, I’ll probably fall for him all over again, but for now my top two celebrities are Theo James and Omari Hardwick. One is just barely within dating range and the other…is well…not, but I can still dream. If I could meet a guy with eyes that smolder like Theo James and the muscles and mind of Omari Hardwick, I’d be fainting all over the place.

    I wanted to this post to be about my somehow conquering my desperation, but some things never change. As I’m reading When It’s Real, I’m trying to imagine myself going on dates with Theo James and the picture still boggles my mind. I’m probably going to devour the rest of the book tonight because I’m anxious for the happily ever after. At the end, though, I’ll probably need some consoling, though because I’ll have to return to reality where it’s never real – it’s all just a dream.

    Let me see you do that yoga.

    I went to a rooftop yoga class this past weekend and the instructor asked if it was anyone’s first time doing a yoga practice. No one raised their hand and I smiled to myself wondering if anyone was lying like I do when I go to a new church and try to stay seated when they try to force all the newbies out of hiding. In the case of yoga, though, you’re at a distinct advantage if you don’t claim your newness, because then the instructor has no choice but to assume you know what chavasana and warrior 1 and warrior 2 are. Fortunately, that wasn’t my problem.

    The first time I tried yoga was in college. The rec center gave students a week to try random classes, and I thought, “Why not see what the hype is about?” Hated it!

    I’ve since found that every instructor is different, but in general you have to learn to accept the reality of the downward facing dog. Some instructors move slower, others faster; some prefer standing poses, others spend more than the fast few minutes laying on the mat; but all instructors eventually move you into a position where your butt is in the air and all your weight is in your wrists, shoulders, and the balls of your feet. It’s like hell the first few times you do it, but years later I can honestly say it gets easier.

    After that first yoga class, I wrote all yoga off. It sucked, it was slow, and yet it still hurt. I was used to being active or on the go somewhere. I liked badminton and basketball – two opportunities to run in short spurts without the full energy commitment. Yoga, for me, was like carrying all of your groceries to the far end of the parking lot.

    After college, I followed Shaun T because he promised 25 minute workouts and lots of activity. It took me a couple years to get tired of that cardio-plyo-insanity bullshit. I still love him, but my pace changed.

    Eventually, I decided to try yoga again. I wanted to breathe while I was working out, not gasp through 175 BPM. And I wanted to be flexible. I found a bubbly, black instructor on Beachbody On Demand and fell in love. Years ago, I still would’ve hated it because I wasn’t ready to move at that pace. I wasn’t ready to ‘flow’ through my movements rather than burn out my energy. I couldn’t appreciate the strength required to simply hold myself up. The only thing I would’ve liked was the pants.

    My experience with yoga reminds me of my experiences with a lot of other things. Sure, first impressions are pretty solid, but it’s incredible how time can apply its own filter on things. It’s kinda like the day I decided I no longer had to gag when eating guac. Or when driving a car finally made sense. Or when I look back to the first time I thought I was in love. People change and grow – that’s just to be expected. Likewise, your perspective and values change with you and you realize something that once was the bane of your existence can become the reason you breathe (see what I did there?).

    With that in mind, it’s hard for my to write anything off: love interests, television shows, careers, kids. You just never know what person you’re going to become next. All you can do is act on who you are in the here and now. Keeping myself open to things new and old led me to a rooftop with a perfect view of the Cleveland skyline on a perfect day.

     

    Agatha Raisin.

    Raise your hand if you’re a fan of The Golden Girls! How about Murder, She Wrote? Now, imagine a combination of the two–a sassy, older lady with an active love life going around and solving crimes in a small village. Boom, now you’ve got Agatha Raisin.

    I figured you’re probably tired of reading about all my positive/self-help/self-improvement/spiritual/new age books, so today I’m going to tell you about my favorite mystery series.

    M.C. Beaton’s Agatha Raisin is a badass. This chick retired early (though not early enough to be considered young), is a beast at publicity, has an active social life, wears heels everywhere, dates enough men to make Jessica Fletcher look like a prude, and still somehow manages to solve the case.

    She also doesn’t fit into with her fellow villagers, leads a band of misfits, always gets dumped by the guy, and regularly puts herself into life-threatening situations. She’s a hot mess with pizazz and I love her.

    I can’t remember how I met the Agatha Raisin series, but I can tell you that I read the first 23 books in a four month period. I’ve always loved TV mysteries–Murder, She Wrote, Matlock, Perry Mason, Diagnosis Murder, Midsomer Murders–but they all lacked one very important thing: romance. Romance spices up any story for me. Get a guy and a girl who are destined, but have so much baggage they have to fight for eons before getting it together, and I’m sold. Sailor Moon is coming to mind…

    Anyway, Agatha Raisin retires early from the public-relations industry and ends up in the Costwolds (a fancy name for an area in Southern England). There she gets a dashing new writer neighbor who has the emotional breadth of a kidney bean. But one great thing about Agatha is when she sets her mind on something, she gets it. Over time she woos the guy, they get married, he leaves her to become a monk, and then comes back like nothing ever happened. It would be sad if it wasn’t so hilarious, and if Agatha didn’t have options.

    See, even though she’s not a spring chicken, Agatha keeps herself up. She dresses ‘smartly,’ as they would say, and can almost always be found with heels, a clean bob, and enough make-up to cover up her age. Her jackass neighbor-husband isn’t the only man in her life. She also has a rich, younger guy friend that sleeps around, but finds Agatha charming enough to develop feelings for her. By the 27th book I became less and less certain who she was meant to be with, but I’m rooting for the younger guy.

    On top of her dating life, Agatha has to deal with dozens of people dying in her village. Naturally, all townspeople hate her as if she created killers. She has absolutely nothing to do with the fact psycho-murderers keep cropping up in the Cotswolds, but she does happen to be around when the dead bodies appear, and in several instances, the dead body is almost hers. If you read the titles of the books you can probably tell who’s getting murdered, but the books are no less fun to read.

    Despite having retired, Agatha gets bored, and spends a lot of money trying to impress people, so she ultimately opens up a detective agency with employees young and old. Naturally, everyone on the police force hates her, too. She has enough people in her life to keep her busy, though. You’ve got Bill Wong, a police constable whose mom seriously cramps his dating life; Mrs. Margaret Bloxby, who’s the vicar’s wife and friends with everyone; Roy Silver, her queer former co-worker; Doris Simpson, Agatha’s cleaner and cat watcher; and the folks whose checks she pays.

    It’s an interesting cast, so I wasn’t surprised when BBC picked the series up for television in 2014. The TV series is short and not faithful to the books so I would recommend starting with the books, even though Agatha Raisin’s story is still being written. The series is almost as old as I am, and yet M.C. Beaton still cranks out a new story every year. But maybe that excites you like an unfinished fan fiction. Regardless, I encourage you to dive in to the series, and if you’re nice, I might lend you a copy.

    Sleep deprivation.

    Ever since I read an article about the negative effects of getting less than eight hours of sleep, I’ve been keenly aware of how ugly and unproductive I am when I stay up an extra hour (or three). The pictures in this article of a lady after six hours of sleep were just horrific, and they said you can’t bounce back just by getting eight hours of sleep the next night. It takes several nights! What if ya girl has plans??

    I could look up the article to share with you guys, but unfortunately I’m too tired. 

    In fact, I’m in my car at work, seat way back, on my lunch break, using dictation to write this blog post.*  How lazy is that?

    A word of advice: don’t start any projects that you don’t have enough time to finish. Especially after 6pm. Don’t say, “Oh I’ll just stay up an extra hour.” Then, “What’s thirty more minutes?” And then add 30 minutes on top of that. And absolutely do not wake up at five in the morning and still try to exercise and do everything else you normally do with a full night’s rest.

    Afterword: I’m not sure if this posts counts as a Friday funny, but I laughed deliriously writing it just before I took a nap. Praises to the most high for waking me up in time for my 2pm meeting.

    *This post has been edited to apply proper formatting. Apple dictation isn’t that dope.

    I Am Not A Cat Lady: Prologue.

    For several years, my sister’s dream had been to quit her job and embark on a 6- to 12-month period of work and travel time on the other side of the world. After months of research and years of saving money, she decided that a volunteer program in Cambodia was the perfect place to start her adventure. She bought her plane ticket, got rid of her car, put in her notice at her job, and even broke the new of her departure to our incredibly protective, incredibly Slovenian grandparents (“Vhy you vant to go dhere?”). Her dream was finally coming to fruition…with two small loose ends left to tie up.

    In the time it took her to lay the groundwork for this adventure, my sister had adopted a pair of cats: Henry, an orange fellow who is a literal scaredy-cat, and Albie, a bold boy whose hobbies include trying to knock over lit candles and being a general nuisance. She somehow managed to talk a friend into long-term cat-sitting duties, but about 4 weeks before her scheduled departure, those plans fell through. Purrfect.

    The result of that surprise was a stress-filled series of text messages and Facebook posts to look for new arrangements for Henry and Albie. My landlord was strictly anti-cat, my parents are both allergic (so is my sister, for that matter–not sure what that says about her sanity), and unfortunately, her messages and posts weren’t returning the results that she needed. Her time in Ohio was winding down, but her cats were still in obvious need of a home; the result of that need was me getting a text one evening that desperately asked, “Soooo, would you be willing to just sneak the cats into your apartment while I’m gone?”

    Since I’m a paranoid rule-follower, I instead took that as a cue to follow up with my landlord. I again asked if my sibling’s cats could bunk with me for the next several months, trying to use phrases that I thought might coax him into accepting feline tenants: “she’s volunteering,” “not a permanent arrangement,” “very good cats,” “always use the litter box,” and others.

    And shockingly, it worked.

    My landlord reluctantly stated that, as long as there was a specific end date in place, my sister’s cats could move into my apartment. Despite my desire to believe that he gave in because I’m awesome at talking people into doing things that they don’t want to do, he told me that he caved because I would be doing this as a favor for my sister, and “you do whatever you need to do for family.” I suppose the important thing was that Henry and Albie had a new home, and that home was my apartment.

    Towards the end of the phone call where he agreed to the cat arrangement, my landlord couldn’t stop himself from commenting, “This may be overstepping my bounds, but…do you really know what you’re getting yourself into?” I assured him that yes, it would be absolutely fine to welcome pets into my apartment.

    My studio apartment.

    My studio apartment where I wouldn’t have the luxury of closing a bedroom door if I wanted some distance from the cats.

    Where I wouldn’t even get privacy in my bathroom because I once got stuck in there (like, bang-on-the-wall-at-midnight-until-my-neighbor-wakes-up-to-help-me stuck) and ergo will never fully close that door again.

    Where I had gotten accustomed to being the only living creature in the space and had never actually owned a four-legged pet in my life, let alone two

    Holy crap. Did I really know what I was getting myself into?

    Update: Tidying (or the power of Starbucks x purpose).

    With 96 hours between me and the end of Spring, I set to work tidying Marie Kondo style, and I’ve come to the conclusion that tidying is as rewarding as they say. But also it’s a complete and utter shitfest.

    Here’s a review of the past few days.

    Saturday 

    This is the day I set to begin tidying. I made almost no plans for the weekend and garbage day was Monday, so conditions were perfect. (Anybody catch that reference?)

    Unfortunately, I also made the shitty decision to wake up at 5am to run my cousin to the airport. Surprisingly, I felt good throughout the morning, and planned to stick to my schedule.

    I continued to plan for several hours while delaying what I knew to be my first task, dumping all my clothes in one spot and deciding one by one which sparked joy. It may have been about 2 o’clock when I began grabbing clothes. Clothes from drawers, clothes from my closet, clothes from my other closet, clothes from bins I never open, and coats from the hallway closet. The only clothes that were safe were the ones in the wash room, and I was grateful for that.

    It wasn’t until I had effectively destroyed my living room that I started to feel exhausted. Someone less OCD than myself may have taken a nap then and there, but no, I had to persevere. I had to return my living room to a state where I could see my entire floor and safely enter and exit the room.

    I should also note that five minutes into tidying I had already injured myself – a nice painful gash on my right thigh and a sprained feeling up and down my hamstring. No bueno. I popped some Advil and kept going.

    My favorite part of tidying was watching my dog take naps on different piles of clothing. She found my jeans, and then my shirts, then my coats, and I couldn’t be mad because she had literally nowhere else to go.

    I can’t explain how I did it. I can’t explain my thought process. But I can tell you that it took me more than fourteen hours to get it done. Fourteen hours of stuffing clothes into bags for donating and throwing away. Fourteen hours of practicing folding my clothes into standing rolls. Fourteen hours of standing on my feet like I was still working retail.

    Fortunately, God smiled upon me and blessed me with an Indians doubleheader for entertainment.

    At about 10pm I was running out of steam. While I had filled my trunk and backseat with bags to discard, I still had to get rid of the remaining five million tons of clothing. Do you think I took a nap? Hell no. I took a Starbucks refresher. I remembered that I’d bought a box of Very Berry Hibiscus refresher potion to get revved up at home. Mixed with a water bottle, I had 16 ounces of psycho juice. Today I call it psycho juice, because I am not sure I can ever have it again.

    Usually, the effects of any energy drink I have wear off in about four hours. In this instance, it ruined my life for at least sixteen hours. At least. And I started drinking it at 10pm at night.

    So yeah, that happened. Long story short, it wasn’t until 5am until I felt it was possible to go to sleep. Just before the sun came up, I lay in my bed, heart racing. I was back up two hours later. So yeah, don’t do what I did. Marie Kondo says tidy everything in one fell swoop, but she did not intend for someone to do it in less than a week. I’m just an overachiever with slight OCD.

    Sunday

    I was back up again at 7am, and the next category for me to conquer was jewelry. I should mention that I was constantly referring to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’s companion, Spark Joy, and according to Marie Kondo, jewelry is a subcategory of clothes, and each time you conquer a category or subcategory, you have to aggregate all relevant items, discard any that don’t spark joy, then sort.

    I wasn’t ready for my jewelry pile to be as big as it was. For the past few years, my jewelry has been in five different places, a bin under an end table, a tiny jewelry box, a bowl a former co-worker gave me, a jewelry tray, and a jewelry mirror armoire. It’s not until you pull all of the things out of all of the places that you realize how ridiculous your life is. It’s further complicated by the fact my mom created and gifted me jewelry for a decade of my life. Bracelets on bracelets on bracelets. That took me a solid five hours. I still use the bowl, jewelry box, jewelry tray, and armoire, but it looks a lot prettier now.

    By this time, I was running purely off of that Starbucks refresher and a sense of purpose. I was starting to see the change in my rooms, and I knew what I could achieve if I kept going. The adrenaline created by that combination pushed me to keep going, but before I moved onto the next category, I decided to fully discard all my clothes. I took about three bags to a clothing store to be sold, and the fifteen remaining to the Goodwill. The Goodwill was super easy to donate to, and I’ll absolutely do it again. Selling my clothes was annoying and only worth while as far as it helps me achieve my goal of buying a Polaroid camera. Since I see it as a reward for my hard work, I just don’t want money coming out of my paycheck–that’s a penalty.

    In the end, I got about $20 for the few clothes they wanted, but at least I had successfully discarded a whole bunch of stuff I didn’t need. Yay me!

    After I ran my errands I made time to acknowledge Father’s Day so that cut into my tidying, but I managed to shred and discard two bags of paper before the garbage truck came Monday morning. Papers were not the next category, so I stuffed away what I had left until a later time. My next task was books.

    Monday

    On Monday I woke up wishing it was a holiday. Surprisingly, it wasn’t so that I could make up the hours and hours of sleep I skipped. I wanted to keep tidying! I’m sorry to report that I don’t get free time off for life-changing projects, so I couldn’t get back to work until Monday evening. My living room had been cleared, but it soon came time to ruin it again with all five million books of mine. Thus, round two began.

    Once again my living room was completely covered, but now with stacks of books. As someone who intends to collect enough books to make a personal library, I was initially reluctant to give up any, but Kondo made a strong argument. I ultimately agreed that my library could only contain the best, and I dumped a bunch of things I can’t even remember what now. That’s now I know I made the right decision. I kept a whole bunch of things, too: mysteries, positive books, investing and writing books, American classics, African-American classics, young adult titles and miscellaneous best-sellers. I didn’t feel guilty, because they all spark joy!

    After books I moved onto DVDs and managed to fit my remaining entire collection in half the space they originally took. I got super geeked, because I had been worrying where I was going to store the little knick-knacks I know I won’t be able to part with and I created a space for them that easy.

    Oh, and I also whittled down my hobby section – if only a little – so that I could store all my supplies in sight in my main closet. If in the next month, I paint something just because I can, I’ll become one of those testimonials at the end of Kondo’s next book. “Oh, my gawd, she changed my life! I picked up painting again!”

    Now, I had originally planned to resume my regular schedule – 5am rise, 9:30pm set – but reaching my end goal was so tantalizing that I once again received no more than six hours of sleep. By this time I’d accepted that my reliance on makeup for the week was going to be greater than normal.

    Tuesday

    Tuesday was the last day of spring, the last day that my tidying marathon should be considered spring cleaning. There’s no reason I had to finish cleaning by June 21st other than the fact my friend mentioned that I could and I said, “Challenge accepted.”

    When I woke up, the surfaces I had cleared over the previous days made me smile. My goal of having my rooms look like they were ready for an HGTV open house – complete with the fake plants – was in sight, so after a long day of work, and another hour of selling and dumping items from Monday’s discard pile, I went back at it. The largest outstanding area of space that I could tackle on my own was my bathroom.

    Though it wasn’t in bad shape, I cringed at the thought of sorting through the collection of lipstick I never wear, Bath & Body works soaps I had bought in bulk, and the hair supplies I thought I might use.

    At the end, I hadn’t discarded discarded a crap ton of items, but I noticed a significant change. Everything had a home, a concept that Kondo describes in her books. When things have a home it makes day-to-day tidying super easy. Instead of having five places for certain types of things, having a single place makes it super easy to put things away.

    At the end of the day I still felt I had days of work ahead. I needed to tackle all of the komono, small miscellaneous things, that I piled into a few boxes in my room. I clearly wasn’t going to complete my tidying marathon before summer hit, but that’s ok. I’ve learned and grown a lot already.

    For one, I learned to keep your parents out of your affairs. No matter how much your parents have taught you, they are flawed human beings that may work counter to the cause. My mom tried several times to convince me to either keep things I don’t need or abandon the project altogether. Nevertheless, I persisted.

    I also learned that it’s true when they say estimate how long something will take and then multiply it by three because you’re probably lying to yourself. I honestly, started off thinking I could done in a weekend even though I vaguely recall Kondo saying it usually takes months for a full house.

    Finally, I learned that even an underwear drawer can spark joy. For the past several mornings I’ve looked at my clear surfaces and smiled. I’ve looked at my bra drawer and glowed. And I looked in my closet and jumped for joy.

    Joy.

    That’s all it’s really about, anyways.

     

    Jealous.

    Looking back, I realize I used to be a very jealous person. The way I thought of people was influenced by my desire to have things that other people had whether that be confidence, love, money…Then one day, I decided that was wack!

    You can’t spread joy and have a jealous mind at the same time. What’s unfortunate, though, is you have to be extra careful about your interactions with people of the same sex.

    As a woman, I know I should work twice as hard to uplift other women, but it’s not always my reflex. Consider the two types of women, other women meet when they go out: the women who come up to you and say, “you look so cute!” and mean it and then, the women who look at you, frown, and then look past you. While we can agree the latter is a hater, we don’t always try to act like the former.

    But I’m here to say now, it’s worth the effort.

    Now, when I see someone being awesome, I remind myself that we’re not in competition–we can all win together. I try to compliment others when I can, I smile at other women, and congratulate them when they get opportunities–even if I would have loved the same opportunity.

    The best feeling is when I disarm someone whose reflex is to be on the defensive. They get this look in their eye like, “Word? We’re cool?” and I get super geeked, because I’m about to force them into friendship.

    Actually, this is the best feeling–when someone you would’ve envied, challenges you to be a better person. When you look at someone and say, “Damn, they’re doing good,” but then you learn from them. And then, something else magical happens. You realize how much you have to offer yourself.