About Sara K.

Sara K. is an aromantic asexual from California who has previously lived in Taiwan. She blogs at the notes which do not fit, has previously been a contributor at Manga Bookshelf, and has written guest posts for Hacking Chinese. She enjoys reading, travel, live theatre, learning languages, and gardening.

“Are angles real”: Dealing with Sentimental Items

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up recommends putting all sentimental items together, and to deal with them as the very last category.

I am following that principle in my own way.

First of all, I disposed of quite a few sentimental items in my pre-KonMari sweeps because, as soon as I handled them, I knew I did not want to deal with them any more. Why fill up my sentimental item box with stuff I already wanted out of my life?

There were also quite a few sentimental items which I figured I probably would end up not keeping BUT I wanted to spend some time with them before I let them go, and spending time pondering sentimental items slows down the whole process. Thus, they went to sentimental items box.

I’ve reached the point where I’ve found almost every sentimental item I am going to find, so the number of items in the sentimental item box is no longer increasing. Considering how many ‘I know I want to let go but I want to spend some time on them first’ items there are in there, I dreaded the prospect of doing a clear-the-sentimental items marathon. Thus, even though I’m not finished with komono (i.e. the stuff that does not fit in any of the other categories) I’ve started the habit of pulling a few things out of the sentimental items box every day. That way, I can give myself as much time as I want to ponder them rather than rushing through them. Also, this way I do not get fatigued with going down memory lane – as soon as I’m tired of thinking about them, I put them away. When I am ready to let go of an item, I do so in the most appropriate way (usually via the recycling bin) and if I do not want to let go, even after I’ve had time to study and ponder the item, I either assign it a new home and move it there, or I put it back in the sentimental items box. Continue reading


The Books & Basement Saga, Part 2

Part 1 left off where I finally got into the basement with my dad to find the books I really wanted to find. We had been in the basement together before multiple times to either do other things or to prepare for searching the corner where we believed the books were, but this time we were SERIOUS. We were actually searching the corner where my dad believed the books were.

During the conversations my dad and I had about finding the books –

The fact that you needed to plan this search in advance, have conversations, and do prep says something about the disorganization of your basement room.

– he proposed tossing out a bunch of my mother’s stuff without telling her about it. He said she would not miss it, and I am 95% certain that he was right about there being a lot of stuff she would never miss if it disappeared.

But just about every single book / guide / YouTube video etc. about decluttering, even if they strongly disagree about other aspects of decluttering, emphasizes that getting rid of other people’s stuff without their permission is a REALLY BAD IDEA.

First, it is disrespectful, and that is reason enough to leave their stuff alone. Second of all, if you do get caught, they will stop trusting you, and it will be bad for your relationship. Third, if caught, they will hold onto their stuff more tightly, and generally make decluttering even more difficult. Fourth, getting stuff out of the house is an effort. I’m more willing to put that effort into my stuff than my mother’s stuff. And finally, my dad also has quite a bit of stuff in the basement which he says he does not need. I think it’s tacky for him to talk about getting rid of my mother’s stuff when his own stuff is not in order.

Also, I need to clarify something: there are multiple rooms in our basement, but only one room is called ‘the basement room’. This post is only about ‘the basement room’ not ‘the basement’ in general (after all there is a room in our basement which has been empty for a long time). Continue reading

The Books & Basement Saga, Part 1

Going through the ‘Books’ category of the KonMari method was difficult-

Of course it was, you love books.

No, that’s not the reason why it was hard.


No, I’m not one of those booklovers who clutch books just because they are books.

You seem a bit defensive about this.

Yeah, I guess I read too many comments responding to Marie Kondo’s ideas which declared that letting go of books is horrible, without any consideration of potential negative effects of having too many (paper) books, such as not wanting to dedicate time to organizing books because there are too many of them, not being able to find specific books because of disorganization, or books getting damaged because someone was too busy reading books to make sure that books were being stored properly.

Oh, so that happened to you.

Sadly, yes. It was only a handful of books that were severely damaged (mostly due to water damage, but there were also a few books with many pages falling off the spine). One of them was a book which once meant a lot to me. I felt sad when I realized that it was no longer readable. My dad also has some old books which have been chewed on by insects because he had them when he was living in Florida (which is apparently a bad place to store paperback books), though at least those books are still readable. That said, I know that some people who embark on home tidying projects discover that their beloved books have been subjected to even worse forms of damage due to neglect. Thankfully, 99% of the books I had as of January 1, 2019 were still at least readable, nor did I find any books in really disgusting condition (even the few water-damaged books had dried up).

Finding those damaged books was a wake up call that if I really respect my books, I need to keep my personal book collection small enough that I can manage it well even with the small amount of time and energy I am willing to put into book maintenance (or put more time into book maintenance, but I prefer to reduce the size of my collection). Continue reading

The Sweetness of the Fleeting

A plum tree covered with hundreds of white blossoms, and a cat at the bottom.

Here is our backyard. At the top you can see the plum tree in blossom, and at the bottom you can see one of our neighbors.

Right now, the plum tree in our backyard is covered with hundreds of plum blossoms, but not for much longer. I always look forward to seeing the plum tree come into full blossom every year. It lasts, at most, two weeks.

I was lucky to visit Dazaifu, a place in Japan famous for its plum blossoms, during its plum blossom season. It was gorgeous. I did not take any pictures because my camera was totally broken at the time, but the images are still vivid in my mind. (I’m sure you can find pictures of plum blossoms in Daizaifu somewhere on the internet). Continue reading

Some thoughts on Shanghai Dream

While I was looking for videos for A Guide to Distinguishing Sinitic Languages by Ear, I discovered Shanghai Dream, a sitcom in Mandarin/English/Shanghainese/Russian about two European and two American young women in Shanghai. I got in the habit of watching an episode when I had a 15-minute block of time on the computer when I wanted to be distracted. By now, I’ve seen all twelve episodes.

I’ve never been to Shanghai, but I’ve been a young American woman learning Mandarin and living in a Mandarin-speaking society, so I feel like I know at least a bit about the reality of this type of situation. And some things in this show feel very untrue.

Such as the fact that these four women get to live rent-free in an upscale part of Shanghai?

Nah, that just seems consistently ridiculous. What does feel false to me is that there are often two characters who are native English speakers and not native Mandarin speakers speak to each other Mandarin. That. Does. Not. Happen. Native English speakers would only do that when they are specifically trying to practice Mandarin, and even then, they would probably slip into speaking English. And these people are in Shanghai, they don’t lack opportunities to practice with Mandarin native speakers. It’s unrealistic that their default language amongst themselves in Mandarin, not English. Continue reading

For Whom Do We Tidy?

When we ‘tidy’, who are we trying to impress?

Yes, I am still going through that KonMari thing even though it’s been a few weeks since I’ve blogged about it. Among other things, I’ve browsed/skimmed a few other books about decluttering/tidying at the library. I’ve even read one of them from cover to cover, specifically Decluttering at the Speed of Life. (Why that one and not the others? Because it’s entertaining. The others I’ve browsed are too boring to finish reading.) These books I’ve browsed at the library were all (I think) written by Americans, and (I assume that) the forewords were also written by Americans.

I’ve also read the Taiwan edition of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up with two forewords which (I assume) were written by Taiwanese people. (There were a lot more differences between the Taiwan/Chinese translation and the U.S.A./English translation of the book than I expected, and I could write an entire post about that).

So now I can do a little cultural comparison – how are books about tidying/organizing/decluttering/etc. written by Americans different from a book about tidying written by a Japanese person with forewords written by Taiwanese people?

I’m sure a cultural anthropologist could dedicate an entire career to this kind of thing, but I’m not an anthropologist, so I will jump straight to what stands out to me. Namely, whether tidying is supposed to make a home look good to guests, or whether it is supposed to make it look good to residents. Continue reading

Knowing That I’m Aro Helps Me Get On with My Life

This is a submission to the March 2019 Carnival of Aros: “It’s great to be aro!”

I would describe being aromantic as being ‘okay’ rather than ‘great’.

That said, knowing that I am aromantic is great.

I was luckier than many of my aro peers. To the extent that my high school years were difficult, it was mostly for reasons unrelated to being aro.

When I first entered high school, I had figured that I would develop a romantic crush on someone (who I expected to be male), and would at least try to get romantic with them. After my first year of high school I thought it was odd that it did not happen. It was even more odd that by the time I graduated from high school I had to interpret my feelings through some pretty contorted lenses to consider myself to have had any romantic crushes at all, and even if those crushes were romantic (which, at this point, I don’t believe they were), I clearly had not responded the way my peers would to such feelings.

In high school, I was able to deflect a lot of pressure with the idea that I was a ‘late bloomer’. I could also tell myself that I was too busy to deal with romance. And I loved some specific examples of romantic poetry, so I obviously could experience romance, right?

In my first couple years of college, I was just so busy, I did not even have time to think about whether or not I had romantic feelings, let alone actually pursue a romance.

(Though really, in the deep recesses of my mind, I did wonder. But because these were the deep recesses of my mind, I was not really processing my intuitive observations of myself). Continue reading