CatchUp

Guy packing a box in front of empty bookcases.

So, like these last couple of weeks have been full of whack. We were backed up against an immutable deadline–demolition. So we moved a generation’s worth of life out of the space it had occupied.

I fully recognize that I’m making a big deal of what others just manage without comment. But, I’m here to say those folks are just withholding. They might be outwardly strong, but this shit is real.

It’s not like packing up all of your worldly possessions accrued over a middle-aged lifetime is insignificant. But you’re correct in your impulse to say, “Doc, shut up. It’s just life. And you’re getting what you want, you ingrate.”

Okay. Thanks for the reminder and for your chastisement. I earned it.

But now here I am with so much that I haven’t told you. Not for lack of thinking about you. Not for lack of sentences that I strung together in my head without any tether. It’s that I’ve lacked the mental space to write. Since I’m a bit behind, I’m just gonna share some pictures. And some captions. Just to catch you up.

Above is a sampling of old crappy furniture that you can’t even give away. Except that there are always takers. I might have had to post online more than once, and there may still be some crappy junk furniture yet to find it’s forever home, but I can always put it out on the curb and send an alert to the listserve. Crossing fingers that someone doesn’t try and have me cited for illegal dumping. If all else fails, there’s a dumpster on the way.

Warning sign that there is an impending dumpster. And there's some wild marigolds.

There was the day that I came home to find a pair of candy corn cones marking the spot that the dumpster will sit. It says that we have the permit until mid-November. That coincides with the hopeful move in date of, “before Thanksgiving.” Also, check out those wild marigolds that are growing from a crack in the street. I hope they survive the ordeal.

IMG_0541

Truly a ridiculous amount of boxes. At one point I just started throwing items in and marking the boxes rando.

green yellow and orange dot stickers

Now this, this was a piece of my genius. There were some items to go to our interim abode, some things–mostly furniture–to be stored in the garage, and others to go in the basement. I color coded everything. It was brilliant. The movers thought it was brilliant. I had to mark some of the crappy furniture with duct-tape and a handwritten “NO,” to keep the flow going. That helped kill the questions that slowed things down. I paid the guys by the hour, not the pound.

The moving truck, in front of my house.

This is the moving truck. That is all.

The emptied wall.

We painted the dining room walls this amazing terra cotta twenty-some years ago. I wanted to capture the color, and the nail that steadied the sconce for four candles. You can see where the sconce hit the wall. I saved the sconce. I don’t know if it will go back there.

Two red mugs and a coffee setup.

We left the coffee rig at the house when we moved. It was the last thing to pack. We moved the bed, and that meant no coffee. Since the interim abode is only one and a half blocks away, I figured I’d walk over there and make coffee.  But guess what? The Spouse went and got it. So I woke up to fresh coffee. This was the best morning.  I married well.

Yellow tomatoes, parsley, bread and cava.

There was much eating out around the move. This was the first dinner I made in the interim abode. It was rice with minted peas and sweet, salty and sour chicken thighs. Oh, and, obvs, some bubbles. Celebratory and what not.

The Beast, chilling.

The Beast was a little worse for the wear during the move. But he found a chill spot on the floor at the interim abode. He kept an eye on everything because even though the movers came last Wednesday, we didn’t actually finish moving out until yesterday. Yes, a full week later.

It was at a point–or perhaps a few points that I may have made in a borderline hysterical tone–that I didn’t think we’d ever finish. But that’s what happens when you move. You lose your mind over the fact that you seemed to be almost done and then you weren’t. And you cycle through that again and again until you realize that the contractors are coming tomorrow. And then, it’s done. And there are things on the porch that will be picked up by Purple Heart and stuff that the person from the next neighborhood over claims to want and then the stuff that the city will take. I love the city for that.

The front door with all the signs of construction.

And today, the front door was adorned with the signs of construction. Warning labels. EPA certifications–required in a house as old as ours–permits, and the posting of the nuisance fee that we pay the city because…dumpster. Just for the record, my neighbors don’t get any of that nuisance fee.

As I walked through the empty, echoing rooms, I didn’t know what to feel. I thought that I should feel a big emotion, yet I barely even registered relief.

So I found a random pink ribbon during my clean out and decided it would look perfect next to the random green ribbon that has been hanging from our door knocker for more than a year. The house is still ours. I’m feeling good.

Elm Street

A collage of the same flowers candle and wine glass with a variety of filters.

My countdown clock was ticking. I estimated ten grim days before we moved to the next stage–construction. This, followed by the final act, moving into the new old house (or old new house?). I was down to day nine.

Until.

Yeah. You knew this was coming, didn’t you, Loyal Reader.

Until. Until the morning we had our pre-construction hand off meeting. This is the meeting where the project lead passes our relationship over to the construction team. The Lead Carpenter–I’ll call him Carp from here–will be onsite daily. He will supervise all the work from setup to daily clean up, from managing plumbers and electricians to kissing up as required to inspectors or neighbors who are mad about a dumpster. He will oversee the hanging of drywall and cabinets as well as texting me for any game time approvals.

The Production Manager was there, too. He has a one level up role. I don’t really know what, but it’s built into the contract. And I like him. He has the same name as The Spouse. The Beast literally sat in his lap during our meeting. He casually draped his arm around the thick neck of the red dog and gave a little hug as he wrote his notes. He took notes. He had a hat. I’ll let you know more later.

Anyway, they walked with our project manager–trailed by The Spouse–around the house and pointed at things and went over the plans with visual annotations. The mantles and baseboards and window casings will be carefully removed. The remaining appliance will be wrapped and stored.

We shared contacts and established communication protocols. Mostly to not hold things in and not let the little annoyances grow until an ugly explosion. I think I’m good with that. I contributed important data about a certain person who might live next door to someone who may have a documented tendency to call the cops for nothing.

We went over lead abatement rules, plastic drapings to keep dust out of lungs and other hazmats, and construction safety instructions primarily for clients not having the entire guts ripped out of their house. This last item wasn’t necessary for our project.

We’re moving out. No need to carefully protect rooms. No protocol required to keep The Beast from escape. Our movers were already scheduled for a Friday move out.

Not.

Turns out there was a week delay on the job before ours, and the crew won’t actually start until July 5th. Holiday and whatnot.

[Full stop. Insert abrupt sound of record scratch.]

So all my stress and planning, the anxiety over our insufficient packing progress, the pending argument over the incomplete bathroom at the interim property, and the immediate garage and basement haul are no longer on a short fuse.

And I’m pissed.

I’m not pissed about the delay. We knew it was a possibility. Our firm has finite crews, and I want them to finish the other job–just as I want them to finish mine.

I’m not pissed about the change for the move. I got two days back at work this week and rescheduled the mover without a penalty. And, honestly, while we would have made the move if we had to, I expect there would have been a weekend after the move of crashing around trying to pack up 35 additional boxes of odds and ends. This is actually a gift.

No. Im only pissed about one thing. The worst part of this project is the moving out. Moving back in will be so awesome–especially since we are doing minimal unpacking,  we will have lightened our lives of stuff, and, well, beautiful home.

No. I’m pissed because the end was in sight, only to find out the damn episode drags on. It’s like the insane killer, after killing the rest of the cast, is finally done in by the spunky heroine. Yet he refuses to die. He keeps coming back for one more battle. And one more.

I don’t like those horror franchise movies. I get no thrill. Just die already, bad guy. I got something else to do.

Thinking about it, maybe first thing I need is to make an attitude adjustment, because this episode will end. I just have to believe that I will survive it.

The Pit of Despair 

The shitshow of in progress packing in my dining room. Find The Beast.

Ooof! This packing game is so very, very, very painful. I am not liking it at all. No. Not at all.

To be sure, I was not expecting to enjoy this part of the “journey.” I am on record as one who totally despises moving. I have infamous antipathy to the picking up all of my stuff and transporting it en masse to a new destination. A little of my stuff? I’m okay. I like to travel. But the whole enchilada? “Hatred” does not do my emotions justice.

So much is my aversion that I have avoided moving for nearing 26 years. Yet, and herein lies the rub, in order to stay here–where I want to be for the rest of my life–I need to physically exit the space so it can be remade.

Oh, the sickening, sickening irony.

This move has unfamiliar complexities. In the past, I’ve just moved. Still hated it, but it was Point A to Point B. This equation has a few more hops. Point A to Point B, Point C and Point D simultaneously with a return to Point A.

First, what to move? While everything needs to move, much will be placed in a temporary deep freeze. So I’m marking boxes with things that we can suffer without for the next few months and with things we will need. This includes crossing seasons. Ugh.

Then there’s a set of things that are in the in-between on my hierarchy of needs. That which needs to be protected. Anything that is susceptible to scourge. So photos, all cloth-based goods, and some Christmas perishables. Then, there’s another category of goods: where things will fit. The spaces available–basement, garage and temp house–are not like a Harry Potter magical tent. They have physical requirements.

Alas, I am just a Muggle.

And, boy, I’m not even an above average one. I completely disgusted myself by attacking the room that was once known as The Office until it degraded into The Locker.

Sure as I was that the meaningless piles were all detritus of The Spouse, I was chastened to find those dust encrusted boxes were actually my own. Untouched for twelve years, forced via the pressures of time and neglect to barnacle underneath the beomouth of my old dining room server and attach to the wall like the lost sailors who became one with Davy Jones’ Pirates ship. Pieces of my own, forgotten past lives.

Letters of offer from before Bear was born, paperwork of praise and raise, and fastidiously folded physician folios from forgotten afflictions were scattered among paper clips, my father’s old stapler and other things unseen by human eyes for a decade and a quarter. Undoubtedly, other, smaller eyes did pass among the ruins. But not ours.

I was ashamed. It was as if I was moving though my parents’ home, discovering the madness of laxity, of ignoring the progress of inaction, of the results of indifference.

I hung my head and imagined being draped in sackcloth, my cheeks rubbed with ashes. I walked into the other room, winding my way around misstacked boxes, tripping on the upturned edge of the rug.

“I’m sorry,” I said to The Spouse. “It’s not you, it’s me.”

Now, to the next pile, to the next box , to taping them shut and marking their destination.

Dumping Carol

A car load of computer equipment to go to the dump.

On the twelfth day of moving my basement gave to me

  1. Twelve old shirt boxes cycled from pajamas and button downs over Christmases past.
  2. Eleven million spider victim carcasses webbed across pretty much everything.
  3. Ten busted picture frames.
  4. Nine moldy sport bags.
  5. Eight disgusting wooden crab mallets.
  6. Seven printers spanning a history from dot-matrix to ink-jet. (somehow not a one thrown away)
  7. Six kiddie vehicles like scooters and skateboards and skates.
  8. Fiiiiivvvve C. P. U.’s.
  9. Four sets of old bathroom rugs.
  10. Three boxes of Playstation 2 games.
  11. Two screens–a monitor and a portable black and white TV from college.
  12. And a Hafler amp salvaged from an old theatre rack.

The chorus was followed by a trip to the dump and a de-accumulation achievement.

I Fall to Pieces

One of the many boxes of legos.

Bear had done right by me when he cleared out his room. Per instructions, he left the books for me to pick through. And the Legos.

There were four or five plastic containers full of the red and yellow and blue and green and gray blocks. There were some block blocks–squares and rectangles. There were some windows that opened and closed. There were also a few doodads that could turn around like a faucet or maybe could be a flower. There were bodied and disembodied yellow heads to pick through. And an amazing number of little gray connectors that must have been from the many Star Wars and knights kits that were under Christmas trees and gifted for birthdays.

I found Legos to be a wonderful mindless manipulative. It wasn’t mindful for me, as I didn’t focus or concentrate on my creations. I’d sometimes make a color pattern, but, for me, it was always indeterminate.

The Bear and the Big Guy spent many hours assembling and disassembling roads, houses, towns and worlds. It was the journey of a Creator, trying different combinations, making evolution happen and then reshaping a next one.

There were kits that were constructed following the guidance on the box. But only once. After it was made, it was rejoiced and then deconstructed and the spoils added to the pile. There were no Lego trophies that were saved for posterity. Legos made fluid sculptures.

On Saturday, I returned to my boxing duties, back to the Bear’s room. I cleaned out the craziness in the closet. I don’t believe that the back of that closet was cleared out in fifteen years. Frankly, it was scarier in thought than in fact.

For some reason, there was a big pile of coins on the dresser. Next to the pile, there was a box full of even more coins, as well as with a bunch of little rocks. Why don’t people (in my family) recognize that nickels and dimes and quarters and, yes, even pennies, are money to be spent rather than items to pile. There was once a day when I ordered a pizza only to realize that I had no cash (before delivery took credit cards). I paid for the pizza with coin I conjured from pockets, under the pillows on the couch and from the bottom of my bags–even going to the closet to rummage through every bag I owned. The Pizza Hut guy wasn’t particularly jazzed, but at least I found enough silver to include a decent tip.

I picked through the rocks (why rocks in that box, too??)  and tossed them as well as a number of wires and quite a pile of empty wrappers that made me both relieved and a little shocked.

I parsed through the books, fondly putting some in boxes and others in the to-go pile. I soon found myself sitting on the floor picking through those Lego boxes.

I started tossing out the tiny green army men I found in one box. There was some nerf bullets in another and a fuselage of a plastic airplane. The dust in the uncovered bins was charring my fingers and making me sneeze. I started combing through one of the bins to shake out the chaff, the unique Lego plastic-on-plastic sound whistling as I shook through the box.

WHAT THE HELL WAS I DOING?

Seriously. What. The. Hell. Was. I. Doing.

I was spending fifteen, soon to be thirty and likely sixty minutes going through old toys. That had more than a decade of dust on them. I said I wasn’t sentimental and here I was. On the floor. Picking through junk.

Nope. Nope. Nope. Done. Said my sane self.

I took a photo of the boxes of little colorful blocks and posted them under FREE on my neighborhood listserve. I identified them as dusty and recommended running them through the dishwasher. In less than ten minutes I had a a taker. In five more minutes I took the two trips downstairs and to the front porch to await pickup. I had two more pings for them before I took the listing down.

I went for a beer and a sandwich and when I stepped on to the porch I looked down. They were gone.

And I’m good with that.

 

Boxed Out

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I had vowed to never move again. I was 9.5 months pregnant that last time. The doctor told me not to lift any boxes. She commanded me to sit in the new house and point to where I wanted others to move things.

While I packed many boxes, I followed doctor’s orders and did not move any furniture. I unpacked most of the stuff and put the stuff away. I climbed up on chairs to do the putting away thing.

I painted the brown pegboard white. The Spouse caught me, standing on a cafe chair with a paint brush poised. There was no stopping me. There was a baby to be born. I didn’t have much time.

After the moving madness was done, two weeks before our first child came into this world, I announced to The Spouse–and with all imaginable drama that a very pregnant person can conjure–that I was never moving again. This was it. Throw my corpse in the yard when I’m done with this life. Done. Finito. Fini.

And, today, here I am. Twenty five years later. Sitting among a pile of boxes that need to be packed up. Because I’m never leaving this house.?.

Two weekends ago I started packing. I packed three boxes with books. I took some I wasn’t keeping to the free little library. And others that I don’t want and that don’t belong to me are in a pile to be reviewed by The Spouse. So I packed three boxes. In the grand scheme, three boxes is the equivalent of zero.

Last weekend, I was going to really get stuff done. I had a goal of packing ten boxes. I emptied a bookshelf and the media cabinet (except for those four things I left). I cleared the mantels of things. I transferred a box full of bar and glassware to a neighborhood victim who succumbed to my listserve offer. I said it was free, but she had to take whatever I put in the box.

I packed up two “medium” boxes with dishes that became so heavy before I filled them I had to switch to topping them off with table cloths. Medium wasn’t strong enough for what I needed to load.

I emptied the server in the dining room, mostly shifting items for later packing. Doesn’t show much progress moving things from a shelf to a staging spot. I know this.

I packed eight more boxes and successfully dumped out about four more, so, if I am generous to myself, I exceeded my goals.

Except I look around the accretion stuff over of the Big Guy’s time on Earth and realize that I have done absolutely nothing.

Ab. So. Lute. Ly. Nothing.

On the other hand, all will be done. Just in the nick of time. Because that is exactly how things happen. In real life. I have a few more weeks.

Drawing Meaning

A numbered bottle of Four Roses barrel strength and a

“How’s it going? What’s happening? When’s the start date? Have you moved, yet?” So, these days, goes many of my friendly exchanges.

Just so you know, there are plenty of things going on in the background. People with green eyeshades crunching numbers behind their office doors, working on the figures that will be the contract. They are looking at options, too. I hope.

I’m preparing myself for the worst of sticker shocks. I know that we have blown the original budget because the scope of the work has [righteously] expanded from a “new bath upstairs plus remodel the old kitchen and bath” to atoning for decades of neglect from, not just us, but, perhaps, from other families over the past 100 years. But, mostly, it’s our penance.

And, also, there might be like, I dunno, slowly spinning fans hanging from the front porch ceiling that frame a custom door that fills the original extra wide entryway and that might, potentially, maybe be painted a bright and inviting color that will be chronicled in a future post. Maybe, though, the custom door isn’t such a good idea. Or the new lights for the back deck. Or the slide away doors to the updated office. Or the underfloor heating and new central AC. But the new water filter at the new double deep sink….

Anyway, let it be known that I have the smelling salts on hand for the contract proposal.

There are new “new drawings” that are likely already done, but we haven’t seen. I have been pouring over collections of links for sinks and faucets and light fixtures for our selecting pleasures. There has been great joy with most recommendations, but the selections for the bathroom sink for the new upstairs bath had to be tossed back. Too modern. The updated options? Spot on! The first link I opened made me say, “wow.” Out loud. I was drinking coffee and only The Beast heard the adoration escape my lips.

Ultimately we are in planning. Nothing much is physically happening. No dumpsters have appeared. No sledgehammers have broken through a wall. There have been no boxes of belongings packed for the temp home or for storage. But, I will tell you, there is much thinking about that. And a call placed to the people who bring their lovely truck to pick up discards, or “donations,” from my porch. I think that they will know me well, soon.

So, for those of you who are asking, we are still in the preparation stage. This is good because the more upfront design decisions, the smoother and less painful the actual process. This is bad because the Doc–as a procrastinator nonpareil–is challenging nature, nurture, the gods and all that is good sense by delaying a meaningful effort to physically move.

Note: not everything is a metaphor. For example the whiskey on this page? Literal.