The Atlantic

I’m Doing a Reverse Marie Kondo on My Life

The government shutdown is forcing me to pare back the things that give me joy.
Source: Jason Reed / Reuters

The government shutdown has forced me to perform a reverse Marie Kondo analysis on my life: If something brings me joy, and that’s all it does, it probably has to go.

I spent the first weeks of the new year teaching a creative-writing workshop in Denver. I told my students it’s a good idea to introduce some kind of ticking clock into their stories to add tension and focus—a deadline, contest, appointment, or trial. Then my husband emailed me a ticking clock.

He was in Phoenix at the American Meteorological Society’s annual meeting—but the hundreds of scientists who usually attended from and were absent. The president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, where he works, informed UCAR’s 1,400 employees that if the government shutdown didn’t end soon, they would have to choose between furlough

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