I have a theory. Some tasks will take as much or as little time as you put aside to do them. I apply this theory to two things: packing for a move and Holiday shopping.
Packing for a Move
The Early Packer:
If a person is planning a move, he or she can start packing six months before. When the move date arrives, packing will be almost complete, boxes will be labeled and stacked and moving will commence. You’ll get out on the date you are supposed to, you’ll move in on the date you’re allowed to.
The Last Minute Move:
Dealing with the same move out date, a person can start three weeks, 2 weeks or days before and the move will be the same. You’ll get out, you’ll get in. It might not be as pretty, might add serious stress, but if you have to get out by a certain date, you have to get out by a certain date. Stuff will get thrown on a truck, in your car, in the trash, on the curb, but you’ll be out. And when you arrive at the new digs you get to open boxes and bags and see what you actually brought with you.
In either scenario, there are always things that you simply cannot pack too early — the everyday items you need to function. Consequently, some last-minute packing is inevitable. Yes, plan and organize. Throw stuff out so you have less to pack and move, but don’t force a six month packing plan, unless you actually enjoy packing and want to pack for six months. If not, it’ll get done, because it has to. You won’t have the luxury of making agonizing decisions about what to keep, what to move. You won’t live with boxes before you move and after you move. You won’t have time to purchase endless containers and organizing materials. You’ll probably have a lot less to organize and you may take less crap with you. Of course, you may also discover that you threw a bunch of trash into a box and moved it, but you will have still moved.
The Early Shopper:
We all know someone who gets all their shopping done by Thanksgiving and they seem so smug and relaxed. Often, we see or hear of that same person shopping in December, catching a sale, exchanging one gift for another for a better deal or because the recipient bought it for him/herself before Christmas. My point is that starting early doesn’t necessarily mean you are done.
Starting early does mean you’ll likely shop longer. If you start in August, you will shop from August to December 24th. Even if you think you’re finished, there will be a sale, or you’ll find something perfect for someone or you’ll remember someone you should buy a gift for, or you’ll shop for yourself, etc. So you’ll still be shopping one way or another until December 24th. It that’s your thing, go for it. But the retail establishments know that the sooner you start, the more you buy, this is why Black Friday sales now start before Thanksgiving and stores open at midnight. Cha-Ching!!
The “Last Minute” Shopper:
If you start the second week of December, it’ll still be done by December 24th. It has to, so why stretch it out? Sales and mark downs? Guess what, except for the ridiculous black Friday sale items you may have trouble finding and may not need, the “Holiday” sales go on right up to and often after Christmas day. If you are indeed looking for that perfect gift that you think may be gone if you wait too long? Well go buy it, but don’t spend six months shopping for it, unless that’s your thing.
Christmas will come, whether you are ready or not.
So why spend months spending?
Why not just get what you got?
Am I preaching procrastination?
Maybe. I’ll get back to you later, heh heh heh. I’m not a procrastinator by nature on other things. I was never the type of student to pull an all-nighter, I believe in daily preparedness. However, I don’t want to pack for six months the next time I move or travel. I don’t want to shop for six months.
It’s not so much as waiting until the last minute; rather, it’s choosing the best time to start and establishing a limited time frame in which to accomplish the tasks at hand. (That sounds better, no?)
This is where I think all those Hoarders and Clean House type shows have it together. They give people three days to get it all done. What do you think would happen if you gave those people six months to clean their houses? The clean up crew would come back every day for six months waiting for the home owner to decide whether the plastic flowers she received as a gift in 1981 have a place in her home. No, sometimes things just have to get done. Make a decision. Done.
Starting early isn’t always the answer.
I probably won’t begin Christmas shopping until December 1st. In the meantime I can do some preliminary planning, make lists, budget, and I’ll figure out the last day I can order something online for it to arrive on time without paying extra shipping.
Then I will shop. No, I will buy. I won’t have the luxury to shop. I’m traveling for Christmas so I’ll have to be finished by December 21st anyway. It’s like a move out date.
It’ll get done. It has to.
I’m okay with that.
Just Me With . . . a strategy deeply rooted in procrastination and efficiency.
Caveat: Do not apply this theory to academics or work or personal life. It could result in — bad things.
Phew! I actually started this in 2011 but I got busy with the holidays and never finished. Ha!
Other holiday related posts:
Blowing Off the Holidays — Just say no.
Keeping It Simple At Christmas — People don’t always need the bells and whistles.
The Annual Christmas Party — At Least I Wasn’t Insulted This Year — Unfortunate comment.
All I Want for Christmas is My Kids — Splitting the babies after divorce.
A Good Neighbor, An Accidental Friend, and a Christmas Surprise — You never know the impact people have on each other.
Craigslist Angels — One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure — Giving Away Christmas Decorations Can Be A Very Good Thing.
My First Grown Up Thanksgiving — Kind Of — Thanksgiving at my house, without my kids.
I don’t always blog about things in order. And many things I don’t blog about at all. Right now I’m dropping right into mid break-up time, it’s kind of like clicking channels and landing on a Lifetime Movie which is halfway over — and watching it anyway.
It was the dead of Winter. My then husband of many years had moved out just days prior. He took only one suitcase, although he had secured an apartment, a fact I discovered later. There is a very long a painful story here that is beyond the scope of this post (I say that often, I know). Anyway, I guess his plan was to come and go at his leisure to get the rest of his belongings. I realized that I couldn’t take that; having him leave the first time had been horrific, I couldn’t handle a repeat. Consequently, I told him I would get his things together so that he could pick them up in one trip. I packed and consolidated his stuff (again, the packing may be a subject of another post, it involved two of my bridesmaids, wine and Fatal Attraction). See My Cheating Husband Was Packing Viagra. Next, I planned to put his belongings outside on the porch for him to retrieve without me or the kids being involved at all.
I lived in a great neighborhood, people were always willing to help each other out. We (when the Ex and I were still a “we”) had made friends with another couple our age. We didn’t do the dinner party thing much (they were child-free, we were not, and my husband wasn’t really the socializing type — then) but we talked periodically and the neighbor husband was always helpful when we needed a another man to help move furniture or something. He was our Go-To Guy. So when everything was packed (behind closed doors so the kids wouldn’t have to see) and when the stuff was ready to be relocated to the porch, I called the Go-To Guy to help. His wife answered. When I asked if her husband was around to help me move something she told me he was out of town on business. But, she added, “If it’s not too heavy, I can help you. ”
“Uh, okay, thanks.” I replied, but didn’t tell her what I was moving. I hadn’t figured out how to tell that part yet. This was all so new, a fresh, deep, bleeding wound.
A few minutes later, she arrived, ready to help me.
“Okay, so what are we moving?” she asked, cheerfully. She is a very positive person.
“[Ex] has moved out we’re moving his stuff to the porch.”
This much must be understood. Neither this woman nor her husband had any idea there was trouble in paradise; I had been married for a long time and had “multiple” kids. See Fertile Myrtle. They had known us both for years. This was HUGE news. Huge.
But it’s her response to my major announcement that still makes me smile to this day, and it’s what I will always remember and love her for. She said, in a matter-of-fact, almost casual, way:
“Okay, maybe one day when you feel like it, you can tell me what happened.”
That’s it. That’s all she said. Then together we proceeded to move all of his packed belongings to the large covered porch. We didn’t discuss it at all. When we were done, she went home. As scheduled, my husband picked up his things early the next day while the kids and I slept.
Not that night, not the next day, but a little while later, I told her the whole story. But the fact that she did not ask or need to know or even need to ask that night shows what a good friend and person she was, and is.
People often wonder what to say in response to an announcement of a break-up or divorce.
Sometimes the response is, simply, “So where are the boxes?”
Just Me With . . . yet another good friend.
I’ve talked about the crap I’ve had to deal with in my new house, well not crap, piss, actually, see Piss, Puke and Porn, but my old house had been a fixer upper, too. There were a lot of jobs that didn’t get finished, what with kids that started coming two at a time and then the husband walking out and all. But I had decided to sell and I had to do cosmetic changes quickly to make the house more appealing.
I needed to get carpet on the stairway and upstairs hallway. Not a job I could do myself. Even the most avid DIY-ers will call in the pros for carpet installation, especially stairs. So I got a quote from one of those next day installation companies since the house was already on the market and I needed a quick turnaround. Didn’t like the sales guy that came by hours late — said he couldn’t find my house and when he did, there were no cars in the driveway so he thought I was out. Wrong. But again, I needed a quick turnaround so I went ahead and booked a time for neutral colored carpet to be installed next day.
For staging purposes, I had already moved one of my dressers from my bedroom to another room to make my bedroom appear larger. (This was a big house , but it was an old house so we didn’t have the huge walk in closets, etc., just a lot of rooms). So my dresser, containing my bras and panties and pajamas, was in the room (formerly and traditionally, a nursery) adjacent to the master bedroom at the top of the stairs. I sometimes keep important documents in my panty drawer (anyone else do that?) so I had been looking in there for a credit card I don’t usually use to pay for the carpet. I admit that I may have left the drawer slightly ajar — cracked, but not completely open.
Sitting with the supervisor downstairs I completed the paperwork and made the down payment. While we were doing this the workers came in to prepare for installation. This much must be understood: this was a hallway carpet installation, the previous carpet had already been removed. In other words, there was no furniture to move out of the way and no bedrooms were getting new carpet. After the paperwork was finalized, I checked on the workers.
I walked upstairs to find a man in the extra room with his hand in the now open underwear drawer, gazing at and fingering my panties. My good, lace, hoping I’ll get lucky — underpants. Ew. (Ladies, you just crossed you legs, didn’t you?) As soon as he saw me he dropped them, removed his hand, looking like a kid caught with his hand in the candy jar — or more accurately — looking like a man caught with his hand in my panty drawer!
Nothing was missing from my drawer. But in my mind my panties would never be the same. I complained to the supervisor who spoke to the workers — in Spanish. I don’t speak Spanish. I complained to the corporate offices in writing. I got a call saying that they had investigated and the worker said the drawer probably fell open while they were moving furniture, and of course I countered,
THE WORKERS DIDN’T HAVE TO MOVE ANY FURNITURE TO INSTALL HALLWAY CARPET! THEY HAD NO TO REASON TO BE IN THAT ROOM AT ALL, LET ALONE IN MY UNDERWEAR DRAWER!
Now, I understand that any company can get a bad worker, but not only did they offer me nothing for my experience, but I even got the subsequent follow-up marketing calls, you know, the “How did you like our service?” calls. It was funny, because I would calmly respond, “The carpet is fine, but one of your workers played with my panties and that kinda of ruined it for me. So, no, I can’t recommend your company to anyone.” Ha! Oh, the stutters I would get from the unknowing telemarketer!!! But really, what kind of company would keep me on the call list after I’d complained in writing?
This is a national carpet company — and to this day when I hear their ads with their catchy jingle, I sing a little ditty — “They’ll install carpet and feel up your panties — today.”
Just Me With . . . panties that get more action than I do.
My Marital Home was large Victorian fixer-upper still in progress. I had accumulated a lot of children and stuff over my years there. One of my forms of therapy has always been to get rid of things and rearrange furniture (I know, a little weird) . Consequently I’d been cleaning crap out with a vengeance after my husband left (so much so he thought I was moving way before I even thought about it).
When the real move was on the horizon, I was faced with moving from this big house to my new little project where Piss Man and his GF were living (See Piss, Puke and Porn). So I basically decreased our belongings by — my guess — around two/thirds . . . Mind you the kid count was remaining the same and they were/are growing by the minute and although some days I’d like to sell them, I’m aware that generally this is frowned upon. Consequently, other stuff had to go.
Since I’m a purger by nature I drop by Goodwill often; they know me (even got hit on there). But since I was already doing this massive move by myself, including getting the Marital Home ready for sale and fixing up the new old hoarder’s house, I was quickly tiring of schlepping my stuff to Goodwill. I also tired of selling individual items, you know, meeting strangers at inconvenient times, etc. to maybe or maybe not make a sale. (Sounds a little like dating, but I digress.) I’ve never had luck having yard sales. So I started posting things for free.
We’ve all seen those ads, “Free Stuff” “Moving” etc. Well, I became one of those people. I decided to give away everything I could on one beautiful weekend. I took pictures, posted them on Craigslist and said FREE — come get it . . . first come, first served.
When living in a smaller space you don’t have the luxury to store certain things, one of them being holiday decorations. I’d already gotten rid of much of that stuff, but I was ready to let go of almost everything else. I told myself, and I was right, that I probably wouldn’t miss it and if I wanted more decorations later I’d start fresh.
My kids’ babysitter (now a good, good friend) had given them these beautiful angel decorations — you know the kind with the velvet gown and fur and whatnot — I had four of them for the girls and she’d given the boy a big nutcracker (heh heh). The angels had looked beautiful in my formal dining room when I had my Christmas sing-along parties. But, that life was . . . over. Still, even for me, it is a bit harder to get rid of items that were thoughtful gifts from a loved one– so I struggled a bit.
I knew I couldn’t store the angels and I knew that in the new old house I wouldn’t have a place to display them at Christmas . . . so . . . I took a picture of the kids’ pretty angels, posted it on Craigslist and put them out on the street, convincing myself that my friend would understand. It felt kinda like giving away my four girls, except my girls aren’t always angels . . . but I digress.
After posting, I got an email right away from a guy wanting to know if I still had them. I checked outside and they were still there. He asked me to hold them until he could get to my house.
I mean, they were pretty, but I didn’t know they’d be hot property — in June. I moved them to a more secluded place and told him where he could find them. He came and got them right away. I never saw him.
“Cool,” I thought, “My stuff is going.” It’s amazing how you can’t sell something for a dollar but if you offer it for free — it’s gone.
A couple of hours later I got an email from the man who took the angels. He thanked me for the them, telling me that they were for his mother who was going through Cancer treatments and having a pretty rough time. She didn’t get out much, he said, hardly ever. But when she saw the picture of my Christmas angels she wanted them so badly that she rode with him to get them.
He said those angels made her so happy. He was thrilled to be able to make her smile.
He just wanted to let me know how much I’d done for the both of them.
I almost cried. I’m lying, I did cry.
Oh wait, it’s Just Me With . . . tears in my eyes . . . again.
For what happened when I prepared the Marital Home for sale, see My Panty Drawer/Your Panty Drawer
For my purging of marriage related material, see:
and for what I wish would happen with Craigslist, see, A Craigslist Fantasy.
Piss, Puke and Porn. Ahhh, my new house. Just Me and the Kids had been living in the marital home since the Husband moved out. I couldn’t afford it. I couldn’t take care of it. But I have five big kids so it’s not like I could hole up in a one bedroom apartment. Plus, the kids and I loved their schools and I did not want them to have to change schools, for academic and emotional reasons. So, I bought this little house because I could make the bedrooms work and my kids could go to the same schools.
But the house was in deplorable condition (which is how I could afford it). The people living there had owned the house for generations but had done no maintenance. Plus, they were sick and poor. The house looked like it should have been condemned. Actually the back part of it was condemned by the county and had to be demolished.
I couldn’t even tell the kids about the house because it looked so bad it would have been too traumatic for them. We drove by it every day and the kids had no idea. The prior owners rented it back from me for 6 months and I worked on the outside of it when the kids weren’t around so that it wouldn’t look so bad when I told them.
Meanwhile, the marital home finally sold. I would have two weeks from the time the prior owners/renters left the new old house before I had to move the kids and I there. The prior owners were heavy smokers, and I say this with no judgment, just the facts — and nasty. I knew that I would be undertaking an extreme makeover but . . .
I get that it was a tough move for the prior owners. Their family had lived there for over 60 years. I stopped by on move out night and they asked if they could leave a couple of boxes to pick up the next day. Sure, I said, because I’m nice that way. But when I went over there the next day and could see in broad daylight what was left behind, it made me sick.
These people kept cats but did not take care of them. They left me litter boxes with cat poop and no kitty litter. The boxes merely had newspaper lining the bottom of the pan. They also left used wet cat food cans. This was late Spring, people. Temps were in the 80’s and rising. Also, there was cat poop that didn’t make the cat box at all. They had apparently kept a cat locked up in what would become my room. The cat had yacked numerous times and they hadn’t cleaned it up. Add that to the cat urine which had soaked into the floors and the remnants of wet cat food — the smell was indescribable.
But the third floor attic bedroom was even worse. A grown man (like in his 40’s) and his girlfriend had lived up there — like hoarders. The side of the attic which was used for “storage” had clothes and debris thrown over there, not in boxes, not in bags, and another cat had free rein up there. Think about it. The storage area was nothing but a big litter box.
Anyway, after the move out there were some boxes and debris left there. Well, okay, I thought, they said they’d leave some things and be back to get them. But I had to inspect the property anyway and start to clean. I had to.
This is what I found: bags of trash, well, actually garbage, including used tissues and vintage porn with sticky pages, more cat poop and litter boxes without litter, an adult diaper (used), little green baggies (which I’m told was crack), and, 2-liter soda bottles — a lot of them strewn about, in boxes, under debris, etc.
These soda bottles were not empty — but no soda, either —
I found approximately fifty 2 liter bottles of HUMAN PISS!
Understand that the bathroom was always in working order. Understand that the guy who lived up there, though collecting disability, was not immobile — he could walk, climb stairs, etc. Understand that he was not developmentally disabled to the point that he was incontinent. In other words, he was capable of carrying his lazy ass to the bathroom and knew that’s where people are supposed to urinate! Understand also that he had a girlfriend who must have allowed this!!!! (What kind of woman would . . . ??????)
That whole Hoarders TV show — finding piss collections? Turns out it is very very real.
Let me say it again — 50 bottles of human piss — in my new house. I knew I’d have to do major renovations, but piss removal?
Thank goodness the kids weren’t with me when I made this discovery. Even my therapist said she’d never heard of anything like this. (This was before the show Hoarders was so popular.) I stopped looking through stuff. My daughters’ future bedroom was a toilet, literally. And people, this was an attic bedroom — in June! It was ten degrees hotter up there than outside. It was nauseating. Truly. And I was going to move my kids in this house in a matter of days. Looking back on it I still shudder. Yeah, I’ve been through some crap . . . and piss.
Just Me With . . . 50 Bottles of Piss in My House, 50 Bottles of Piss . . .
For more new old house stories, see: