Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Moving Experience...
(an ongoing series) — Part I

**June 21, 2007 Update**
“Don't go gettin' all excited, now; this isn't a full scale post or anything...”

Aw heck, who am I kiddin'? Of course this is another full-scale post! in fact I've decided to make it a series; a series of updates on how things are going in the process of getting our house ready to sell, which currently stands at t-minus 6 days, 18 hours, and 3 minutes from the time of this posting.

I'll probably go back and retrofit things with some of the events that
chronologically came prior to what I'm starting with here, so I may be shoe-horning a prologue in here eventually, at which point it will no longer be a miniseries, but I'll try not to get ahead of myself here.

How long the series will last, who knows, but it's a fast write and something I'll probably be glad I chronicled later on down the road, despite the fact that I've always tried to avoid "diary" posts. Besides, today is Summer Solstace; the longest day of the year. Let's just call this a tribute to things that take a long time to get through...you know, like my stories.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Bonus Round
I've gotta tellya, the past two weekends have been pure hell for Michelle and me. The backbreaking and exhausting work of cleaning, sorting through, packing, and then either hauling away or storing away fifteen years worth of trash and treasure has been far tougher on my wife and me than either of us had imagined it would be.

We've been working together constantly for the past two weeks, nearly every weekday evening to go along with the 15-20 hours a day we put in on the weekends. Needless to say, tempers have flared more than a couple times. But by the same token, we've also experienced a lot of joy at our accomplishments.

This past weekend we installed new cabinets in the laundry room on Friday night, then on Saturday and Sunday, tackled what we knew would be the Everest of our uphill battle to get our house ready for market: the Bonus Room. It's the room above the garage and is by far the largest in our house. It's also the most consistently cluttered and least attended to room in our home as well. Oh, and I think I've already mentioned, it's also the room where I spend the bulk of my time, and um, yeah, that fact just might have something to do with its condition.

For the first seven years that we were in this house, the Bonus Room was the office of my freelance Graphics and Web Design business. I practically lived up there, so accordingly, it was my man-cave as well. I have my cool stereo system set up there along with my computer(s), a couch and one of our two TVs.

The room also features a drafting table on which I used to do all of my old-school paste-up/layout graphics work before I got full-on into web design. During the time it was being employed as my primary workspace, I understandably was forced to always keep it cleared; my papers were always filed neatly into file cabinets. I actually had a nice, logical little system in place.

However, after the mid-90s, with my web work increasing and print graphics jobs tailing off, my work became more and more relegated to computer-only projects. I suddenly didn't need to worry about keeping that nice, big table clear. My natual packrat/clutterbum tendencies took over and my drafting table morphed into one large open-air filing cabinet. I mean, why bother filing things in folders and cabinets when I could access them so much easier in nice, neat little piles of printouts and notes, on top of the drafting table.

My enslavement to the pile management filing system had begun. But as crazy as it might sound, to be honest, it worked pretty well — at first, anyway. I rarely lost track of things. I just mentally assigned a space on that table top and then somehow remembered how to distinguish one pile from another.

For about the next ten years, I threw everything — printouts, bills, invoices, instructions, sticky notes, hardware, software, everywhere — on that table. As I said, things were fine at first. The problems began when I had to start creating piles on top of piles. But when those piles became so dense that I actually started having to search to find something, I just expanded my filing system to the floor. Again, the piles multiplied, leading to a circumstance in which eventually there were only pathways of vacant space on that once expansive piece of home real estate.

Now before you start assuming the room resembled one of those news reports of some old cat-lady's house, with trash stacked up to the ceiling and furry varmints scurrying about, relax — it wasn't that bad. However, it wasn't that good either. I honestly don't know how much longer I could have let that room go, but these things have a way of working themselves out I guess. At any rate, the clean-up has easily been as interesting as it has been daunting.

Going through all this stuff has been amazing. It was like excavating a historic dig; each pile seemed to be a remnant of a different year; a different point of stress, joy, growth, or atrophy in my life and marriage. It has evoked a wide range of memories for me; some painful, some prideful. It's certainly the subject matter for a story in of itself and hopefully I'll be able to get around to it at some point soon.

However I can't take credit for all of the mess, my wife contributed a bit herself. In addition to all of my junk, the Bonus Room was also home to Michelle's sewing machine. It was the birthplace of her side decorating and window-treatment projects, adding to the clutter as well. Her fabric scraps and associated materials occupied about a quarter of the room's floor space on its own.

Another considerable component of the room's clutter was its use as a graveyard of my various computer-upgrade projects over the years. I don't quite know why, but I've just never been able to make myself part with old computer components, including obsolete processors, cases and peripherals. I guess I've always figured that one day I'd need them for something. As a result, parts of four different computers (not including my primary one) — remnants of ten-plus years of PC evolution — also lay along the outskirts of the room, just taking up space.

Yeah, I'm a true packrat. I just never realized how much. And worse still, I had no idea how long it would take to go through all this crap.

Over the past ten days, I've been finding out.

It has literally taken a week and a half of constant purging and filing simply get to the point where I could move the freaking furniture and paint the walls, which we did this past Sunday. We still have to do the trim, but we're determined to get it done this week. And there's still have a bunch more stuff to be boxed up and either thrown away or carted off to the storage unit that I rented a couple weeks ago.

We got next
After the Bonus Room, the ride gets easier, but not by much. This Thursday the tub guy comes in to patch the cracks in our two bathtubs, Friday the carpet cleaner comes to clean all the carpets (including the Bonus Room, which further heightens our urgency to get everything completed over the next two nights), and Saturday, my friend Kelly comes over to lay new linoleum in the kitchen. Saturday and Sunday are also the two days we have alloted to finish the gradual process of cleaning out the garage, which from the outset was every bit as much a mess as was the Bonus room.

Then Monday, the real estate ladies come to take pictures. Tuesday our house officially hits the market.


Think we can do it? I'll talk to you in exactly one week and let you know.

Wish me luck.
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