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A Moving Experience: Breakthroughs

M-day Minus 13:

It’s starting to dawn on me that I’ve got less than two weeks to finish up all this packing and loading. I’m being very good about not panicking yet, but I will admit to an increased sense of urgency beginning to upwell in me.

That said, I’ve had a bit of a breakthrough on dealing with my tool shed. I’ve started clearing out those items which were blocking me from getting to other stuff, and which in some ways were blocking me from getting anything *done*. I mean, one of the items was an old bankers box from a previous move, folded down to save space. It’s stained with oil and such and is obviously unsuited to another move, yet I couldn’t bring myself to remove it from the stuff it was in the way of, because part of me was still holding onto it as something I could *use*. But getting rid of that seems to have broken the logjam.

One problem with the goodies I have there is that a lot of them don’t fit neatly into boxes. I’ve done some creative packing, but things like the table saw are just going to have to go as they are. I’ve also got some walking sticks in the house that fit into that “can’t neatly pack them” category, so I’ll just find places for them on top of and in between things.

Another problem with the shed is that it’s at the farthest point on my property from the POD, with my house in between. My choices on getting stuff from points A to B are either to open the side gate and take stuff the long way ’round, or (new idea) to move it in stages – first to the hot tub cover (which is way sturdy), then to my living room, then to the POD. By breaking a big, complicated problem down into manageable steps, I’m making progress again.

Meanwhile…did you know that those big “wardrobe” boxes they sell you at U-Haul come with a metal bar to hang your clothes, that they keep on a different shelf? I do now. Got the box (and some others) yesterday; spaced on even *thinking* that the bar was a separate item, silly me. I just talked to them, and I can pick one up from them this afternoon. Thankfully, I haven’t needed it yet.

The last observation for today: Even two hours’ worth of hard work really tires me out. I crashed by 10 last night and slept really well. I don’t know if anyone’s done studies on the effects of different types of job on how well we sleep, but if they haven’t, they should.

A Moving Experience: More Boxes!!!

M-day Minus 14:

Would you believe I was almost out of boxes again? It’s true. So I made a lunchtime run over to U-Haul and got a bunch more. I may be close to the final number I need, or I may need to get more in about a week. It all depends on how much stuff I’ve got that I ain’t re-discovered yet.

Things being packed yesterday and today: Some of my music gear, my camping gear (what I can find of it), board games, maps, VHS tapes (yes, I’ve still got some), some DVDs, and a box of booze that I won’t be digging into before I move. I’ve also committed some alcohol abuse with things that I’ll never drink or get around to serving others.

Things not being packed yet: my tools. Every time I go out there, I get a bit overwhelmed by the clutter in that particular room. I usually pull a few things out of there, to keep or to trash, so it’s not wasted time. But it’s not terribly productive either.

The clever thing I’m doing is finishing several half-full bottles of different types of rum. It means I don’t have to move them to Florida, and it likewise means I don’t have to buy another handle of St. Elmo’s (the BevMo house brand) for the last two weeks. It’s a pretty good no-name rum, but when I was in FL in June, I rediscovered Ronrico, which my folks loved and which we can’t get out here in CA. It’s only about two bucks per handle more than St. Elmo’s and tastes better. So no St. Elmo’s going to Florida.

Meanwhile, I’m also planning parts of my trip across country, which I’ll probably blog as “2014: A Moving Odyssey.” I’ve been researching New Orleans, which I’ve never been to. I found a pretty good rate for a hotel room in the Quarter for a couple of nights, and I’ll probably do some sightseeing and some resting-up for the last leg of the trip.

A Moving Experience: SOLD!!

M-day Minus 15:

Well, wonder of wonders, one set of buyers who’ve been back and forth with counter- and counter-counter offer have accepted terms I can afford and can live with. Escrow opens this morning, and given they’re bringing their own money, we might actually close on or about M-day. So that drops another piece of the process into place.

I suppose I *could* be a little perturbed that this didn’t happen until *after* I bought plants and a small patio table for the front porch, to spice it up a bit for the open house we’d planned on having this weekend. But at least now I can drop “trim the shrubbery” off my to-do list.

What’s left now is what Spider Robinson calls “days of unending relentless monkey labor,” as I continue to gather up the various accessories to my existence and load them into the Big White Box at the end of the driveway. I keep making progress – areas become emptier, and I have to look further to find stuff needing packing or clearing. But I’m still a long way from done, and I’ve only got two weeks left.

A Moving Experience: Not Sold Yet; Repeat Actions

M-day minus 18:

We’ve now done three open houses, and had people come by a few times to look at the place outside of those hours. We got two offers in our first round, neither of which was attractive. One was worth countering. The buyers on that one are going elsewhere. So it goes. The market is still moving upward and the house will be getting emptier every day from now on. I expect we’ll do an open house this weekend.

I’ve gotten about 60 boxes and one bookcase into the POD so far, and I’ve got about 20 more boxes ready to go down. Taking things downhill to the POD isn’t all that tiring; dragging the hand truck back *up* the hill is a bit tiring. So I’m taking it in small stages so far. I hit a milestone today; all of my CD backstock inventory is now in the POD.

Yesterday I had my friend Jaime over. She loves to garden, and I gave her all the big bags of soil amendments I’d accumulated over the years, plus a few other goodies I’m sure she’ll be very happy with. We also had some delightful conversations. She’s one of the people I’m going to miss.

Today I’ve started a new round of packing and throwing crap out. I’ve made a list of several more areas in the house and sheds where I can pack and clear without getting too far into stuff I may still need over the next two point something weeks.

A Moving Experience: Go, Go PODzilla!

M-day Minus 21:

My POD just arrived earlier today. It’s about 8x8x16 feet, and I’m thankful to say it looks like it will hold everything I want to move to Florida. Heck, there might even be space left over.

It arrived on a truck with this interesting mobile frame called – yes, you guessed it – PODZilla. PODZilla’s job was to lift the POD off the truck and roll it into place, which it did with an expert touch. Here’s some of what it looked like:

IMG_3735 IMG_3737 IMG_3738

Tonight, now that it’s cooled down a bit outside, I’ve started loading boxes (and one bookshelf) into it. I’ve discovered that I’m not as good at this physical labor as I used to be. But I can take a break, drink ice water, and use the time to tell y’all about it. So far, I’ve got a dozen or so boxes and one bookshelf loaded. I figure I can load another ten boxes or so before I feel like calling it a night.

Meanwhile, the “selling the house” part of the move is going a bit less swimmingly than I’d hoped. There’s one offer we’re trying to counter on, and we’re also trying to schedule an open house for this weekend, to try to scare up a slightly better offer just because. However, my realtor is having tire troubles. So I don’t quite know how that’s going to work out yet. But at least we’re getting some activity.

Now that I’m in the same month in which I’m moving, it’s becoming more “real” again, and I can see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. And it ain’t an oncoming freight.

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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚

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.


The Long Goodbye

When one is getting ready to move away from the place where one has lived for over twenty years, there are usually some goodbyes that need to be said. Today’s was one of the harder ones of this particular cycle for me.

I first met songwriter and songwriting teacher Jai Josefs back around December 2002, right after I released my first album. At the time, I was just starting to learn about the wide world of songwriting *and* performing, and beginning to wonder what I’d stepped into. I got a critique of one of the songs on that first album, and while I don’t remember which song it was or what was said, let’s just say that it wasn’t a glowingly positive review. In spite of (or perhaps because of) that, I heard that Jai ran a regular songwriting group here in the Bay Area, which I promptly signed up for.

Eleven-plus years later, I attended my last Songshop today. In that time, I’ve really matured as a songwriter. I’ve learned the craft of songwriting, learned what makes contemporary songs successful in the marketplace, and learned how to craft my songs so that others can resonate with them without losing my “voice” in the process. I’ve met and worked with quite a few other songwriters who’ve been in that group, many of whom I’m still in touch with. And I’ve released four more albums, each of them notably better than the one before and all of them light years beyond that first effort of mine. I’ve still got plenty of room to grow…but I’ve come a long way, in large part due to my participation in this group.

And now it’s time to move on. The current cycle of classes ended today, and I won’t be here by the end of the next cycle. And while I’ll still be in touch with some of these people, and while I’ll still be able to work with Jai (and possibly attend future classes) via Skype…it’s still the end of an era for me, and one of the harder goodbyes of this current crop.

But that’s what I signed up for when I told myself I wanted to follow this dream, this purpose. And part of the lesson of this cycle is learning how to both stand more on my own feet and to network more intelligently with more people, as I move into the next stage of my life.

Jai, thanks for everything. It’s been a long road the past eleven plus years, and I’m a much different person today than I was when I first bounded into your group way back when. I think the changes have been all to the good, and you and the people in that group have played a part in that, over the years.

Goodbye and hello again, as always.