Cleaning House

Time to take out the trash

What do I have to say this week, friends? What can I say, with Election Day almost here? And not just any election day, but one that has a good claim to being the most consequential election day you and I have yet lived to see.

You all have already voted early, or have your Election Day voting plans in place, yes? Good.

Be kind to yourself and take breaks from the news, from Twitter, from the generalized anxiety that besets us. Here in my house we have done what we could do. We have voted (by mail) and written letters and postcards to voters. And we have superstitiously, faithfully upheld our daily rituals:

Yes, that’s a wine glass with an engraved outline of DC on it to the right there. Democracy and my liver may not survive this election.

But maybe they will. I have hope. I hope you are hopeful too. Whatever happens on Tuesday, there will be a lot to do afterward.

Time to clean house.

I think about this scene from “The Last Action Hero” more than I probably should:

Weirdly enough—or maybe not weirdly at all, given that so many of us are stuck at home with our stuff—clutter has been a hot topic this year, luckily for me and my book. Funny to have so much to be grateful for in this clusterfuck of a year.

I’ve been interviewed for Curbed (“Your Quarantine Clutter Has a Long and Distinguished History,” by Alexandra Lange), the Guardian (“Cluttercore: the pandemic trend for celebrating stuff, mess and comfort,” by Morwenna Ferrier), and Vox (The new maximalism,” by Rebecca Jennings), about #cluttercore and the new maximalism and how the pandemic has affected our relationship with things. I just did an interview via email for the Spanish newspaper El Pais’s magazine, S Modo, proving that clutter transcends borders. (That story hasn’t run yet.)

I’m not used to being on the other side of the interview, but these conversations have been fascinating and wide-ranging and substantive. More to come, I hope.

A grab bag of CLUTTER-related links:

“Our Anxious Relationship to Stuff” (Jessa Crispin’s “Public Intellectual” podcast)

“PAWcast: Jennifer Howard ‘85 Explains the History of Clutter” (Princeton Alumni Weekly’s podcast)

“Coming clean: mess as an emotional and cultural problem,” by Beejay Silcox (review in the TLS)

“Jennifer Howard’s Clutter Is a Call to Clean It Up,” by Eve Ottenberg (review in Washington City Paper)

And, most unexpected and delightful, this wild and lovely series of collages by Brooklyn-based artist and poet Christine Hou, each based on a line from CLUTTER:

A post shared by @christinehou
October 16, 2020


Vote, stay sane, stay safe, and I’ll see you on the other side of Tuesday.



P.S. If you haven’t ordered a copy of the book yet, it’s on sale now from Belt. If you have ordered a copy and would like a personalized bookplate, I would gladly send you one. You can find me on Twitter (DMs are open) or at