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Just Throw Everything Away: A Compendium of Tips for Moving Successfully (Part One)

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+Note: By “tips” I mean “my personal actions,” and by “successfully” I mean “without dying.” (Some people may think, “That’s not particularly noteworthy,” and to that, I ask, “Oh, really? Since when is not dying even one time in my entire life so far not a big deal?”)

1.

Every year, one of my New Year’s resolutions is don’t hit people, and every year, without fail, I regret putting it on my list. It’s a stretch goal, but I aim for difficult targets because I’m brave. And also because not bringing a shitload of shame to my family is important to me. I want to honour the only stable life I have ever known.

I didn’t grow up with stability in my childhood home, and it eluded me still after becoming a mother, but in this life I now share with Harv, it’s become a familiar and welcome presence. When stability was only a vague concept, I thought it meant being rooted in one place, both physically and psychically.

I’ve learned that home is wherever your people are and that being a stable person isn’t about remaining unchanged. It’s more about not allowing temporary but intense emotions and thoughts to dictate actions; or seeking the destruction of yourself, others, and property as a release; and learning to carry the extra weight of grief or sadness or disappointment without letting it define you. Basically, psychic stability is about not losing your motherfucking shit.

Since marrying Harv eight years ago, I’ve moved across the country twice (Los Angeles to Miami, then back to Los Angeles) and halfway across the country once (Los Angeles to Austin). Although I have not been rooted in one place physically, I am always at home because of Harv and Cal. I am with my people.

So, greetings from Texas. My fam and I moved to Austin in July. My maxim for this transition has been (and still is):

If you’re lost in the woods, burn it down.
2.

Packing is one of my only skills. I know I’ve said “one of my only skills” about eight or nine times in the past. Humility aside, eight and nine are very high numbers so, yes, I’m a person of many talents, but I still like to be chill about it.

Two months before our move date, I spent a week buying packing supplies- hundreds of boxes, cartons of tape, professional-grade tape dispensers, foam peanuts, bubble wrap, colour-coded stickers, stacks of packing paper, and ten rolls of Necco wafers. It’s my candy of choice when I’m doing hard labour.

As the mountain of packing materials grew, Harv campaigned for professional packers. Each time he suggested it, I reminded him that sorting and packing were my passion. He never said, “Yes, yes, you’re right. Of course, you should do it all.” Instead, he gave me a lot of hard stares and said some bullshit about our previous moves and how I always ended up on the floor begging Jesus to please take me because I’m fucking done with this fucking shit.

I didn’t bother explaining that this time, things would be different. I knew he would be sorry when he saw my fastidious progress- the rows of neatly labelled boxes in each room, separated by size and weight, special notations for “fragile” and “unpack me first!”

At first, I mindfully sorted what would stay behind and what would make the move with us to Austin. After a week, every time I tried to tackle an area, I became mentally and physically exhausted, pain clamping my jaw shut and radiating through my arms.

Fifteen days before the move, I woke up still feeling unmotivated and lazy, but I forced myself out of bed to go to the gym. That simple act filled me with pride as I gloated about my newfound agility and strength since exercising on the reg.

In the midst of those congratulatory thoughts, I fell down the stairs. Luckily, the cup of water I was holding hit my face as I tumbled forward, so I felt awake and refreshed as I lay on the floor. My vision wavered and I felt dizzy as Cal helped me up. By the next day, I figured out that I could prevent the whirling sensation by keeping my head straight. As long as I didn’t turn left, turn right, look up, look down, or tilt my head even the slightest, I felt totally normal.

The vertigo proved burdensome because I still had a lot of packing to do. And by “a lot,” I mean that I hadn’t really started. Oftentimes, I got so dizzy that I would have to sit down or lean against a wall until the world stopped spinning. Then, one second later (like, literally, one second after I got my vision in check), I turned to mull over an item and swooned all over again.

When the movers arrived, I still hadn’t finished, so I continued packing as a team of men carted away boxes. When the moving van pulled away, I was standing in the midst of yet-to-be-packed items. Shit, I wanted. Shit I should have tucked away first but left out instead because, idk, it made sense at the time. They were too big or heavy to take onto the plane or leave with my brother.

I sat on the kitchen island trying to sort out my next steps. I felt boxed in, lost in all of the material baggage I had accumulated to fill the empty spaces in my heart.

If you’re lost in the woods, burn it down. 

Instead of looking for ways to save everything, I left all of it behind. I set up another donation pick-up, and bagged up the items that were only valuable to me but to no one else for the garbage pile.

What I learned: Decluttering an entire life and home requires more than a handful of days. Because it’s not just a physical clearing. No matter how much I wanted it to be anything but, the process was a double-edged emotional purge. Freedom and loss. That loss brought grief, but I try not to stay mired in desire for what no longer remains in my life.

Also, next time, I’m for sure gonna hire some goddamn professional packers.


3.

I did not tell my mother we were moving away. Before heading to the airport, Harv snapped one last picture, but I waited to post this picture and a moving announcement until the three of us were at the airport, through security, and waiting at our gate.

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Funny Weirdo Haircuts Drive Us Nuts!

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The problem with young people today is that they have crazy haircuts.

In my day, a lad had two choices for a haircut – a crew cut or a flat top and both cost 50 cents. You went to the barber every Saturday morning with your old dad, had your ears raised and were grateful to look like every other kid on your block.

But these young people today. They all want to “express themselves” with their weirdo hairdos!

They walk around with their spiky bangs, corn rows, streaky uplifts, mohawks, faux hawks and wigged out sideburns. It’s a carnival freak show but without the popcorn.

If I had ever come home with a multi-colored mullet and a bum fluff goatee my old dad would have used me as a stump and split a cord of wood on my back.

It’s showy and disrespectful. Plumped and preening like a bunch of randy roosters let loose in a hen house. Disgraceful. I say they should round those damned young people up and sheer them down like the sheep they’re supposed to be.

It’s dangerous I tell you and it leads to anarchy and loose morals. It won’t be long before willy nilly hair styles aren’t enough for them anymore and they start frothing at the mouth, burning down post offices, practicing communism and forcing seniors to sport dreadlocks, rattails, moptops and worse.

And mark my god damned words, when that day comes we are all going to be well and truly sorry.

They have crazy haircuts. That’s the problem with young people today.

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Oh God! Young People Need to Toughen the Hell Up

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The problem with young people today is that they’re too damned soft.

In my day, young people were tough, damn it. We were gristly, sinewy and hard as nails. My generation was forged in a furnace of fiery parents, sweltering outhouses, creamed chip beef and the type of childhood diseases that either killed you or put some damned hair on your chest.

We had to be hard – conditions demanded it. There was no room for mollycoddling and teenaged slackassery. We couldn’t lie around in our underpants all day levelling up in Donkey Kong and text messaging our idiot friends. We were too busy rendering sheep fat, toting ice blocks and extracting our own teeth for that kind of foolishness. Our “down time” was getting dressed up in flour sack suits and attending the funerals of siblings who had died of dust pneumonia.

But these young people today? They’re marshmallows. And the similarity extends beyond their squishy plumpness and incredible lack of taste. Most have never done a lick of honest work and wouldn’t recognized a calloused palm if you clapped them across the ear with one.

They don’t understand what it means to sacrifice or to go without. For them, sacrifice is eating an unfrosted pop tart, fornicating with an unflavored condom or settling for less than an unlimited phone plan. Take away their cushy duvets, parental fawning and Junior Shopper credit cards and they wouldn’t last 5 damned minutes in the cold hard world.

And they’re emotionally soft too. Call a young person a worthless ninnyhammer and he’ll whinge, cry and fold up like a house of cards just to prove you right. Criticism’s considered some form of abuse instead of what it’s supposed to be – a practical assessment of your obvious limitations and some damned motivation to prove me wrong.

Face facts, this country is deep in the toilet and one flush away from becoming “Runningdoghai” the 23rd Province of the People’s Republic of China. If we ever want to return our nation to its former glory we need to stop raising a generation of spongy cry-babies and get back to work on hardening our resolve, our bodies and our minds.

They’re too damned soft. That’s the problem with young people today.

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Sensible Careers – A Joke!

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It’s high time we brought back good old fashioned jobs like costermongers, spittleman, wheeltappers, pettifoggers, pig jobbers, quarrel pickers and knock knobblers.

American Barbershop Idol

Surely to God we’ve exhausted this nation’s supply of caterwauling nancy boys and are ready to bring some damned decent singing back to the national stage. Four part harmonies plus straw boaters equals toe-tapping, good clean family fun.

Cursive Writing

And I don’t mean swearing. I mean putting pen to paper. They may be able to text 80 words a minute but ask them write a sentence longhand and it comes out looking like something a chimp would produce with a pointed stick and mitt full of mashed blackberries.

The Power of Positive Gumption

All this new age, positive-thinking hokum smacks me as being the worst kind of bumph since Clark Stanley sold his first bottle of snake oil elixir back in 1893.

Positive thinking as a means to an end is like the American Dream – it’s fine in theory but really only helpful to those with good genes, rich families and access to a decent education. For everyone else – it’s sleight of hand and empty platitudes.

For 2012, instead of folks assuming they can set their life right with little more than a combination of visualizations, affirmations and positive mental brainwaves, I’d like to see people attempting to set reasonable goals and then achieving them through a combination of hard work, determination and the power of positive gumption.

Enjoy your New Year’s Eve but keep the damned noise down. I’ll be in bed by 9:30.

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