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July, 2014:

A Moving Experience: Cult of No Personality

M-day Minus 24:

(Alternate subtitle: Ghost in the Single-Family Residence)

I’ve decided that it’s a lot more fun to look at homes that other people have cleaned out and cleaned up than to actually clean one up for other people to look at. Duh.

My agent is of the opinion that people don’t want to see *your* stuff in the house; they want to imagine *their* stuff in the house. I’m guessing this is why the furniture and such that professional stagers bring in is so trendy and bland; any whiff of an actual personality might turn someone off.

Perhaps we could call this the Groucho Marx theory of home sales: People don’t want to live in a house that someone else might have wanted to live in.

So every morning as I get ready for work now, I carefully erase the tracks of my progress from the home, in case someone wants to come take a look but doesn’t want to see a house that people have (yuck!) *lived* in. I’ve become a ghost haunting my own home. And I don’t even get to knock the books off the shelves or make stuff fly around the room. Where’s the fun in that?

As a consumer focus group of one, I’d like to challenge this theory of staging. Granted, I’m a statistical outlier in almost every group you want to name, so the ability to extrapolate from my tastes and behaviors to the rest of the world is tenuous at best. But as I only recently was on the other end of the many pages of contracts, here’s how it worked for me:

  • First and most important: The “vibe,” or energetic signature of the house. Does it feel peaceful, joyful, full of ease? The house I live in now and the house I’m moving to both have that feeling about them. Most of the houses I looked at felt neutral to pleasant, and a few felt downright funky. One of them had such a miasma of negativity about it (not to mention a stale smoky taint that suggested that someone had built daily bonfires of cigarettes in each room of the house for a period of years, and then left the butts to “season” for a while) that even my agent wanted a shower afterward. And she’s nowhere near as sensitive as I am to that sort of thing. I realize that some people are so muggle-headblind that they’d miss Jack the Ripper’s hideout or the birthplace of a God. But for me, it’s important.
  • How has the house been treated? Are there any obvious holes in the walls, doors, etc.? Does it look like people had pride of ownership, or like a motorcycle gang had weekly drunken orgies there?
  • Did the house have the right number of rooms, arranged in a way that flow well? I turned down a few houses where there was a big disconnect between the living room, kitchen, and family room, because I want the option of being able to do things that more than ten people can show up for and not feel crowded.
  • Optionally, is there furniture that I might prefer to moving my own, and do I like it?
  • Is there a yard with space for me to garden?

That was the top of my personal list. Nowhere on that list was, “did the owner leave his/her comb out this morning” or “is there a half-full water glass on the counter?” Do people do that sort of thing? People do.

Meanwhile, I haven’t filled any more boxes the past few days, as I’ve been somewhat focused on this open house/showing thing. I’m hoping to get a couple of things boxed up tonight, just to get some momentum going again. And hopefully we’ll get offers in by Thursday’s deadline, and I’ll be able to focus more on packing this weekend.

As I’m going through my cabinets to see what still needs packing, I’m surprised by how much stuff I would have packed before that isn’t going with me this time: Food, pots and pans, cleaning supplies. The food won’t survive the move, for the most part; I’ve already got a fairly good stash of the rest of that already in FL. I’ll invite the neighbors in, the last day or two, to pick out what they can use, and let whomever my agent hires to clean the place out do the rest.

So maybe I’m closer to the packing finish line than I thought.

A Moving Experience: Whose House is This?

M-Day minus 27:

The house is now just about as clean as it’s going to get for today’s and tomorrow’s open house. Over the course of the last week, packing has been somewhat co-opted by the need to make things presentable if not pretty. As of this morning…we’ve mostly succeeded. Large collections of clutter have been removed or banished “backstage,” all of the moving-related stuff has been corralled into the library (aka “second bedroom”), and I’ve cleaned the floors and folded the visible towels.

Hell, I don’t get the house this clean for *parties*. I’ve even *dusted*.

And it was *much* more fun shopping houses that *other* people had cleaned for *me*. (*fake pout*)

Packed box count is over 60, but hasn’t gone up much in the last few days due to everything else. I took a carload of stuff over to Goodwill yesterday, which freed up a lot of space in the living room and family room/office.

On the other hand, looking around at the house, I can see how much less *stuff* I have floating around unpacked and unprocessed than I did a few weeks back. And that feels good. There are still several weeks’ worth of “hard monkey labor” left before everything’s loaded into the POD that’s going to Florida and I can get into the car and go. But I’m starting to see the end of the road, dimly at a distance.

For those of you who may at one time or another have wondered what the house looks like, here are a few shots I just took this morning:

Living room - with room for living

Living room – with room for living

A comfortable place to sleep

A comfortable place to sleep

Whose kitchen is this?

Whose kitchen is this?

As for me, once the guy shows up to replace the one broken door and gets done, I’m outa here until after the hordes have gone. Gonna go watch a friend make music.

A Moving Experience: Milestones

Moving Day minus 31:

A month from today, I’m planning to be on the road for Florida. And I realized, thinking that thought, that it’s somehow more “real” to me now that we’re within that “one month” timeframe. What is it about milestones – be they counting down or of the anniversary variety – that make the events they connect to more or less “real” for us? I don’t have any solid answers…but find the question to be fascinating.

Meanwhile, the packing and cleaning continues. For the next several days, I’m still focused on visible stuff, to help get the house ready for showing this weekend. However, the idea came to me this morning that if I clear out some of the currently “hidden” stuff – in drawers, cabinets, what have you – it’ll make space in those places for me to put away some of the stuff that’s currently out and providing “visual clutter.”

And I’m starting to see the benefits of the last six months’ worth of pre-move decluttering. I had already shredded all of my older bank statements and such, so packing what was left took me five minutes. :)

I’m also only two days away from the Big Farewell Show at Forbidden Island. I’m expecting there to be “moments” during the show; I don’t know what they’ll be yet, or what will trigger them. But my job is to move on through.

In Empowerment, last night I started reading about “personal power,” which I’ve learned a *lot* about the past few decades. The accompanying exercise asked, when do you feel most powerful, and when do you feel least powerful?

I feel most powerful when I complete something *I* made a priority of, during which I learned how to do something I hadn’t known how to do before. I feel powerful when I get to the end of the day and I’ve resolved everything on my list, especially if that includes one or two items I’d been punting on.

I feel least powerful when I have to punt on something that’s been nagging at me, especially when it’s just because I’m “too busy” taking care of mundane details in my world. Even moreso when I’ve been punting on it, putting it off, for a while. I feel least powerful when I’m staring at something that needs to be done, yet I not only don’t know how to do it, I don’t know how to *learn* how to do it.

Tonight I’m off to get a replacement door for one of my bedrooms. This is in part “penance” for not having done some diligence when I bought this house. After that, I get to spend some time with a friend I seldom get to visit with. Tomorrow, in addition to work, my realtor’s coming over and we’re going to spend part of the later day cleaning and getting things in shape for the open houses.

And in between this and that, I still need to rehearse for Thursday night.

If I figure out a workable way of accomplishing all this *and* making sure I don’t neglect my yoga, I’ll feel powerful. :)

A Moving Experience – Part 1

Move minus 33 days:

Filled box count is now somewhere around 55. I just got back from buying more boxes at UHaul, because their “small” boxes are big enough to hold vinyl albums, and Bankers Boxes aren’t. And I’m just about ready to pack the vinyl.

In the past, I moved those in milk crates – those clunky big plastic things everyone uses but nobody’s supposed to. This time, I decided to go for boxes with fewer holes in them. :)

All of the books in my “library” bedroom and my own bedroom are packed, except for the few books I’ve kept out for inspiration and personal growth during the next five weeks. I’ll put those in one of my final boxes, on the last day or so. Included in this:

  • Callahan’s Key, Spider Robinson: This is the book that got me to Key West in the first place. I still reread it about once a year, for the humor and the descriptions of some of my now-favorite places. The first time I read this, I hadn’t seen any of those places; now I’m very familiar with some of them, and a couple are on my favorites list whenever I’m heading to the end of the road. I’m rereading this for part of the “why I’m doing this.”
  • Empowerment, David Gershon/Gail Straub: These days, when I talk about my purpose, part of that is empowering myself and others to manifest our own inner Paradise. I’ve had this book around for quite a while, and I probably bogged down on the exercises, first time through. This time I really want to understand their take on empowerment and manifesting the reality you want to live in. Hopefully I’ll find some “aha” moments to add to the “how I’m doing this” list.
  • Complete Eagles songbook: Because in my copious free moments, I might want to learn something new.
  • Taxi’s book on Shortcuts to Hit Song Writing: Because in my copious free moments, I hope I’ll *write* something new.

As I’ve moved into packing some of the books and such in my office area, I’m reaping the benefits of having gone through and decluttered this whole area over the last six months or so – it’s taking a lot less time to just shovel things into boxes than it would have, had I not done those things.

Meanwhile, I took another four boxes of books I no longer need to the local library yesterday, where they will serve as a funding source for said library and as future enjoyment and enrichment for those who take them home. That brings my total of donated/pruned books to eight boxes.

The other big project, selling this house, is creeping forward. I was working on getting an offer from a couple of investors I knew last week; that didn’t work out for a variety of reasons. I’m about to list the house with a realtor who’ll buy it themselves at the listing price if they don’t sell it, guaranteed. And the listing price will get me out of my loan and closing costs, and *might* net me a few dollars for gas on the road to Florida. Part of *that* project is cleaning things up behind me and ahead of me, dusting shelves after I’m emptying them, and doing the type of cleaning I’d do for a big party so that it’ll show well for an open house. That’s supposed to be *next* weekend.

It’s 11:20 in the morning, and I’m ready for a nap already. But I’m going to soldier on. Today’s list includes packing my vinyl, packing the rest of my books except for what I might use in the next five weeks, and cleaning the kitchen floor. And probably talking with and meeting with my realtor.