Old Town

Old Town
Pioneer Square

Friday, March 21, 2014

Block 1: Zen and the Art of the Purple Steamer Trunk

I decided to move to Seattle after seven years in Charlotte, NC. In most ways, you'd have thought, I was uniquely qualified to pull off a cross-country move, having done it six times in my life. But I'd put on some years, the economy sucked, and I found myself  strapped by logistics.

Th first thing that flummoxed me was how to move my stuff when I could scarcely move myself by either bus or train. But then it occurred to me : in one way or another, all of us are strapped--if not for money, then for time...if not for time, then confidence. What's hard for me now may be easy for you while your problems in plotting a novel might be child's play to me. Frozen by our own anxieties, we all need to learn how to move.

I made two basic decisions.
1) D-Day: I needed to move by October 15, the best time to find a job in retail or to transfer from one of my two present jobs.
2) I needed to get rid of nearly everything I owned--or, rather, which owned me.

I began with a mountain of clutter and trash:

No, my heap didn't look like that. Yet, before I knew it, I'd lugged out fifteen 50-gallon trash bags with junk, clothing, dead computers, newspapers, books, etc., etc., etc. And, though I'd barely begun, I felt good--cleaner and lighter than I'd felt in years.

The cornerstone of my move became a purple steamer trunk. Somehow I'd pack into this trunk the only clothing and personal items allowed. Four lightweight boxes would hold all the rest.
My purple steamer strategy:
1) Use of vacuum-compressed storage bags.
2) One layer for my best shirts, all dry-cleaned, folded and ready to wear.
3) A second layer for jeans and slacks.
4) A third layer for two sportcoats, a raincoat, a jacket--and a sweater or two, space permitting.
5) Room left over for best personal things.

My plan to pack the boxes:
1) Personal/professional papers.
2) Essential books.
3) CDs/DVDs.
4) Manuscripts.

Action Log
3/19/14: I began one task that I'd put off: sorting out personal papers. One box alone weighed 40 pounds--and hadn't been opened in over seven years. From here I plan to take my time. Page by page, as shirt by shirt, I'll lose all useless clutter. Meanwhile, I'll also start scrapping furniture that I can't sell.
Total weight of trash so far: more than 1000 pounds.

3/21/14: A trial run at packing the purple steamer trunk. At the rate I'm going, I'll need two Sumo wrestlers to batten the lid down for locking. Good grief!

3/23/14: I keep replaying the great scene in Any Given Sunday, where Al Pacino roars that 'It's a battle for the inches!' For me, it's a battle for the ounces and the single pounds--because I know how they add up. It's beginning to get bloody as I get rid everything my new life won't depend on. So long, books! So long, clothes! So long, lovely this and that! 

3/31/14: Since the last log update, I've taken out another half-dozen 50-gallon trash bags. And the battle of the inches has come down to brutally weeding out perfectly good clothing. Only the best of the best for my trunk! Today, as an experiment, I visited a dry cleaner with two expensive shirts that had been kept in an outside storage unit too long. Could they be saved, I wondered. One may need to be soaked for a while, she said, but both should be fit to wear. Cost $3.00 each for cleaning/folding/wrapping in little plastic bags. These will be fine, she said, for placement in a vacuum space bag. But the suede sport coast I asked about would coat $50 to clean. Out it goes! The plan is to dry clean 2-3 shirts every other week, constantly monitoring the space they take up in the trunk--before, then after, the vacuum space bags. Onward now with personal papers...and a new block for April.

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