My Tee Shirts Are Zen!

Who could have dreamed this? Someone has found yet another way to organize one’s clothes. I’ve read all those sage admonitions for years. You know the ones . . . the advice for clearing out the closet. There is this one: take out anything that you haven’t worn in a year and give away. There is this handy little system for identifying the offenders: On January 1, turn all your hangers backwards. Then, as each item is used, return it with the hanger facing the “usual” way . . . at the end of the year, just sweep up everything with a backwards hanger and cast them away, like yesterday’s garbage.

I must admit, I have distaste for that method. Who knows when I might suddenly want (need?) something that flew out the door on December 31. Besides, I can think of much better things to do on December 31 and January 1 than declutter my closet.

Bob and Jane’s preferred activity on December 31 into January 1

However, since confession is good for the soul (who said that?), I must come clean that my closet is overcrowded. I do hang things by color and type, but hanging them involves an nimble squeeze play. It is not for want of rod space. I have a good amount of hanging room. My theory is this: clothes will mate and reproduce until that space is full, giving birth to extra shirts, jeans, tees, slacks and the occasional dress. So what gives that is new under the sun?

Marie Kondo, undaunted by a client’s closet

Ms. Marie Kondo, an organizing expert from Japan, is taking the closet by storm. Her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, arrives this month in the United States and is already a best seller in her native Japan and Europe. Rather than espousing a philosophy of 1) do you need it? 2) have you worn it in a year? 3) does it fit? 4) does it flatter? She has a unique perspective on the process of winnowing the burgeoning closet. Does it give you joy?

Really? Does it give me joy? I’m suddenly acutely aware of all the clothes hanging in my closet. They look suddenly drab and well, joyless. Her technique involves taking down each item, holding it in your hands, thanking it for its tireless service to you, and then deciding what I will term “the joy factor.” She writes, “Don’t just open up your closet and decide after a cursory glance that everything in it gives you a thrill. You must take each outfit in your hand.”

“Does it spark joy?” This seems unnecessarily effusive for my tee shirts and worn-to-comfort jeans. Although I can say that my Broncos tees do spark joy in me, especially the Bronco-orange Peyton Manning tee. But what about all those other back-up clothes? Shirts with a teensy hole here and a subtle rip there.  Joyless, by gosh! Gone! But, not without my caress and whisper of thanks for the hard work provided (to say the least of the coverage). Truthfully, I am projecting since I have not yet gone into the dreaded realm of the walk-in closet and performed the inspecting, sorting and discarding that remains to be done.

However . . .  and this is a big HOWEVER . . . as a skeptic I decided to put at least one of Ms. Kondo’s suggestions into practice. After all, how do I know that she is not just a phony-baloney lady who has figured out how to write today’s best seller? As a born and bred Missourian, I claim my birthright from The Show Me State. So, I tried her technique for tee-shirts. Rather than folding them flat, she suggests folding them into a long rectangle, folding that rectangle over into an even skinnier rectangle, folding that in half and then rolling the shirt up. I have long been a practitioner of rolling my clothes to put in suitcases after I discovered that this procedure results in the traveler arriving with clothes that are very minimally wrinkled or not wrinkled at all. I just never dreamed of passing this along to my dresser drawers.

I took out all the solid colored tees in the drawer and proceeded to roll them up, Kondo-style. (Do not confuse this with Gangnam-style, also popularized by an Asian personality but involving considerably more athleticism than folding tee shirts).


I was astonished by two things. First, I could see every color of shirt without lifting up the stacks. Second, I could actually get another four or five shirts in the drawer (which probably would sound like fingernails on a chalkboard to Ms. Kondo).

Behold the before and after:

Kondo 2
Ruffled stacks as I search for a color
Kondo 1
Tee shirts before
Kondo 3
After! Shocking! Space for more and more . . .

Another factor to consider is that when I pulled a shirt from deep within the pile, it would toss the entire drawer in disarray. And of course the point in all this is to become more Zen by ridding our lives of disarray. She states, “When we take our clothes in our hands and fold them neatly, we are, I believe, transmitting energy, which has a positive effect on our clothes.” No wonder I have felt so glum for the past couple of years. My clothes have been feeling miserable. I had no idea. And this pain that I have inflicted on my clothes is not limited to those overstuffed drawers.

There is the sad comment about socks. This is the icing on the clothing cake. Kondo’s theory involves gently laying socks in the drawer to await their next call to duty. Her notion is that they have worked extra hard for you and when they are in the drawer they are “on holiday.” So wadding them up in balls and tossing them into the drawer is merely your rude slight to the fact that they have literally and figuratively walked a mile in your shoes. At least. So why put them into contortions on their much deserved vaca from your smelly feet.

Socks 001
My sad, miserable, mistreated sockis

When it comes to the closet, one should hang everything that begs to hang, arranging from left to right, with dark clothes leading the pack. Similar things should hang side-by-side . . . or else more unhappy clothes!  She goes on to say, “Clothes, like people, can relax more freely when in the company of others who are very similar in type and therefore organizing them by category helps them feel more comfortable and secure.” Having not yet attempted to release my closeted clothes from their current prison, I can only wonder about their lack of security. It will be hard to sleep tonight knowing that my clothes are frightened and yearning for the company of like comrades.

This blog is a “To Be Continued” effort, since I will take on the challenge to purge my closet. I may even find myself rejoicing Gangnam-style when I have released all that pent up and crowded joy that hangs in my walk-in. So go roll your tee shirts . . . and report back! Lives can be changed. Peace and calm can prevail. Clothes can finally rest in much-anticipated secure comfort. Oh! And don’t forget to thank them.

You know you want to do this . . . .




That’s this blog. It is enough to curl your toes. Fry your brain. Crimp your resolve. Its roots go deep into our psyches . . . and it ends with . . . well, it ends with split ends. Yes, dear reader. This is about home permanents.

Who on earth invented these? And why-oh-why did they ever call them permanents? Any woman who has ever suffered through these will tell you that home perms are actually “home temps.” Enough said. Every woman was deluded into thinking that she could achieve beauty shop results with this box of chemicals. What we dreamed about and the reality of the “do” is nicely illustrated below.

Better yet, which twin is Lily Tomlin’s mother?


I’ve alluded more than once to my mother’s proclivity for the Miss Toni permanents that she forced upon me during my grade school years. THE formative years, I might add. No wonder. This explains a lot about my growing up into an unsure woman, always paranoid about my looks. Too fat, too freckled, too toothy, too red-haired, too brown-eyed all the way to not enough eyelashes, not enough neck, not enough boobs (the early years anyway), not enough, not enough, not enough. And I lay it all at the altar of the dreaded, punitive Miss Toni. In researching for this blog, I discovered that I have mistakenly called this “Miss Toni” when it was actually a “Tonette” perm . . . which was a kid’s version of the adult “Toni” perm. It sat on the shelf next to the Party Curl and the Richard Hudnet (a cousin to Richard Wingnut).


Tonette sounds French, oui? Or perhaps like a member of a backup group for the Shirelles. French, my eye! If anything, I felt tribal in an African-sort of way. And speaking of international issues, another finding during my research phase is the realization that this trend was not limited to the United States. Behold the product from the Land Down Under!


Curly Pet? Really? And I thought Tonette was demeaning. My mother, who actually had a diploma from beauty school, deserves my forgiveness. After all, she was only trying to get me to look more like Shirley Temple. I think the only term that could describe my transformation into a Shirley Temple look-alike could be epic failure. The Terri Lee doll that was so popular in the Fifties had a mop of curls and could get a new perm right alongside her “mommy.” Of course I had a Terri Lee. I suppose this was also intended to make the child feel more inclined to “lean in” to the permanent (thank you, Sheryl Sandberg, although this is probably nowhere in your best-seller). But the perms persisted.

How much did mom pay that boy to be in that picture with all those Terri Lee dolls?

Hope dies hard in the hearts of mothers who are hoping to mold their unlikely daughters into beauty queens. One advantage: I am easily spotted in all my grade school pictures. I was usually one of the tallest kids in class AND I had that mop of hair. [Yes, Mother. Wherever you are, I forgive you. Sort of.]


In addition to the hair, my mother bought clothes for me called “Chubbies” and “Chubbettes,” another a la Francaise attempt to put glitter on a turd. (Phrase I’m borrowing from my daughter since it truly describes this like nothing else I can dream up.) This would be another entire blog.

Chubettes                  Chubbies

Truthfully, I’m not sure how I can even hold my mother mildly accountable when I perpetuated the torture by giving my daughter a home perm right before Junior Camp at Romoca (campground located in Palmer Lake, Colorado). She was angry and humiliated, with good reason. Her head was the size of a regulation basketball with all that fluff flying out from the roots. She reluctantly went to camp, knowing she would be the target of a number of jokes, many of those revolving around disparaging comments regarding the Fiji Islands. She was even more distressed when she discovered that the president of our church (Wallace B. Smith) would be paying a visit to the camp. Stacy still claims to be scarred from this entire debacle.

1989, The Summer of Her Discontent. Pictured with her sleek-haired cousins, Amy and Tyler
Stacy’s First Permanent (and my nomination for 1983 Mommie Dearest)

One final note. I seem to be an equal opportunity family member. “Back in the day” when Bob and I were newly married, everyone-but-everyone wanted an Afro hair-do. Bob and I were no exception to that cultural nuance and both succumbed to the chemical home perms to achieve the look. A canny friend (who was herself a beautician) gave Bob a perm and thoughtfully (tee-hee) took his picture which she presented in a sweet little frame. She gave me a perm as well.

You know this is a beautician’s house by the handy broom. Thanks, Sue Cox!

If the family that perms together stays together has merit, then we are the poster children. After forty years, I believe I can state with some certainty that Bob and I are permanent, like peanut butter and jelly, England and the Beatles, love and kisses, and of course, glamour and Tonette. Sigh. Those WERE the good old days, huh sweetheart?

Foo Manchu and his favorite squeeze

Doppelgängers:  A Matter of National Security?

First, I offer this disclaimer. By putting “national security” in the title of this blog, I wonder briefly if this will land me and my blog on the Homeland Security Watch List. The thought of someone watching me seems quite titillating, especially if that person looks like James Bond (Sean Connery, of course—the one true Bond) or Matt Damon as Jason Bourne. Truthfully, at my advanced age I would be honored if the current Sean Connery was stalking me. Let’s face it. Like a fine wine, he has aged well. Not that I have much experience with aged wine. Or fine wine, for that matter. (Mental note: take up wine tasting as a retirement hobby.)

Sean . . . then
Sean . . . now!

If the CIA or FBI takes an interest in watching me, we are truly in trouble as a nation. So, what is my concern about doppelgängers? I must admit that I had not heard the term “doppelgänger” until I saw an episode based on them on How I Met Your Mother.

Here is a Websterian-style definition of doppelgänger:

an apparition or double of a living person.

Sometimes we refer to this as an evil twin or body double or alter ego. I really like the word doppelgänger because it is a long verbose word (see my blog on June 1, 2014, Words, Sweet Words) AND it has that sexy ä in the middle. In the plot lines of How I Met Your Mother, over the years the five main characters had all spied doppelgängers of each other . . . at least of four of the five. Barney remained elusive and when they did feel they found his doppelgänger, it was always Barney, disguised in a new attempt to seduce women.

Lily, Marshall, Ted, Robin and Barney . . . How we miss them!

Although the entire idea of doppelgängers seems like a game, it has been taken quite seriously over the years . . . many years, actually. The word doppelgänger is borrowed from the German language consisting of two nouns Doppel (double) and Gänger (walker or goer). The application by English-speakers of this German word to the paranormal dates to a best-selling book on paranormal phenomena, Catherine Crowe’s The Night-Side of Nature (1848), which helped make the German word well-known. However the concept itself, of alter egos and double spirits, has appeared in the folklore, myths, religious concepts, and traditions of many cultures throughout human history. Usually this has been in a sinister form . . . often foreboding of disaster for the person. So, there you have my concern for our national security after noticing the following particularly striking doppelgänger.

Below is a picture of Mike Morrell. He is a past deputy director of the CIA and has been acting director twice before he retired “to spend more time with his family.”

Mike Morrell . . . serious as the CIA
Mike Morell with his Geoge McFly smile

Oh sure, Mike! We all know who your family is . . . The McFlys! You can’t fool me. I hereby expose your little ruse by posting this picture of George McFly.

George McFly, no CIA worries here

“Seriously? You think I’m CIA?” [snort-snort]
Realizing that the apple rarely falls too far from the tree, let’s assume that Mike Morrell is actually Marty McFly, George’s son (played by Michael J. Fox in the Back to the Future movies). Nice try . . . with the matchy-matchy initials . . . MM. Mike Morrell/Marty McFly. Exposed. BAM!

Shortly after discovering this, I was acutely aware of the uncanny resemblance of my former boss, Linda Booth, to Lily Tomlin. When I tuned in to see the Kennedy Center Honors, I thought, “Holy Cow! Linda Booth is getting the medal tonight!” But alas, it turned out to be Lily Tomlin. Or is it? (I hear a sinister dum-dum-dum . . . . ) If you know Linda, you know what a great multi-tasker she is and how well she handles volumes of work. Could she really be sustaining an acting career on the side? You decide . . . .

Lily . . . wearing clothes that look just like WWLW (What Would Linda Wear!)
Linda Booth . . . Linda/Lily . . . There’s that matchy-matchy initial thing again.

If this is, in fact, one and the same person, who is wearing the wig??

Then there is the wonderful, sweet and talented Sara Tubbesing. I met Sara over ten years ago and was stunned by her resemblance to Susan Sarandon. (I must point out that like Mike and Marty, Linda and Lily, Sara’s maiden name was Shedd, thus promoting that eerie use of double initials . . . SS for Sara Shedd/Susan Sarandon. Perhaps she is hiding her fame with that Tubbesing initial T. Hmmm.) Sara is an educator, a musician (sing, Sara, sing!), and fabulously funny. Up to the time I met Sara, I had a bias against Susan Sarandon, thinking she was snobby and full of herself. After I met Sara, I dearly loved Susan Sarandon. I’m sure she can sing like Sara and she just HAS to be nice. Well, maybe not as nice as Sara . . . but let’s just say that the lines blur at times.

The terminally adorable Sara Tubbesing
Sara wannabe, Susan Sarandon

Last but not least in my discovery of the unnerving coincidence of look-alikes in my daily walk, this is perhaps the most disconcerting. One day, as I sat in my office looking out on the World Plaza (see blog on May 13, 2014, Missing Dexter, for a view from my window), I saw my son, Scott, walking toward the building. He was about a half-block away, but I saw him clearly! My heart soared! He was living in Colorado (still does), so how could he be here? Obviously he had secretly come to town and was surprising me. The closer he came to the building, the louder and happier my heart pounded. When he got about 15-feet from my window I realized that it was actually John Chatburn. The nerve! Impersonating my son like that. And John is such a nice guy. In fact, here is how nice John rolls: when I asked permission to use his likeness on this blog he wrote, “Glad I could bring you good thoughts about Scott without even realizing it.” [Scott, take note. You better be nice if you are running around impersonating John Chatburn. Love, Mom.]

CHIW 008 (2011) John Chatburn
The Kindly and Dashing John Chatburn. (If only I could have given Scott that chin!)
My second born (sorry, fuzzy pic)

Quick test: Scott or John? Correct answers can win you a free subscription to this blog. Oh. Really? It’s already free?

Scott Watkins or John Chatburn? Only their mothers know for sure. Oh yes, and their wives.

I suppose some of you who are reading this may have, at some time in your lives, been identified as someone else, thus tipping you off to your possible doppelgängers. Twice I have been accosted in elevators by people thinking I was a nurse they knew (Doppelgänger Rosemary Simkins, RN in Denver and Doppelgänger Anne Welch, RN in Independence MO). Rather than finding this disturbing in a bump-in-the-night kind of way, I felt flattered and suddenly wistful that I wasn’t a nurse. Oh well. Do I have a current doppelgänger? Do you?? Listen to the words of a cast member from How I Met Your Mother for some comforting words about YOUR own personal look-alike:

We’ve all been searching for the five doppelgängers, right? Well eventually, over time, we all become our own doppelgängers. These completely different people who just happen to look like us. Five years ago? That girl was pretty great. But doppelgänger Robin? She’s amazing.

Amen to all you amazing friends out there!

Julianne or Jane?? So difficult!!!
Jane or Julianne? Very confusing.