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I have moved more times in my life than I care to think about. We moved twice when I was growing up, I moved numerous times in the army, a few times for my career, countless times for my ex-husband's career, and various times since. I hate it. The only thing I hate more is moving someone else and the only thing I hate more than that is moving someone who has accumulated mountains of stupid stuff.
I purge my household twice a year, once in the beginning of spring and once at the beginning of autumn. The end result of this routine is that I don't possess a bunch of useless junk, a big plus when you have to move. I am currently helping a friend of mine move who rarely throws anything out and it is like moving an entire department store, but less organized. At least in a department store like things tend to be in one place. My friend's possessions are all over the place and generally have nothing to do with the other things around them beyond sharing the dubious distinction of being useless junk. It is the kind of clutter and chaos I deplore, so naturally, it makes me complain a lot. My son, who was helping, thought that I was complaining because I was in pain from lifting and carrying heavy things. I explained to him that the physical discomfort ran a distant second to the mental distress of trying to pack of mountains of ridiculous clutter. I don't complain about pain, but clutter makes me crazy.
All my moving experience has made me a master packer. I can tons of stuff packed in a single box so tightly that getting them out again can be somewhat of a strain. Never a centimeter is wasted when I pack, by gosh. I learned how to pack by watching professionals pack my stuff on the occasions when I was fortunate enough to have someone else paid to do it. I learned a lot from professional packers, who actually go to school to learn how to do it. They are incredibly fast and their technique is amazing. Everything is about maximum efficiency in the use of space. When I pack everything is carefully labeled and kept together as much as possible, which is why having things all over the place slows me down and makes me nuts. I took over the packing because I got tired of explaining why the pots and pans should not be packed with the bathroom items or the lamp shades. I like my packing organized.
The downside of having this kind of experience and expertise is that it makes you way too popular with people who are moving. If I had been really smart I would have kept my packing skills to myself. The other problem is that I tend to view moving as an opportunity to purge one's belongings and that doesn't go over too well with hoarders. I am a firm believer in the philosophy that simplifying one's life is the best way to go and that keeping around a bunch of useless stuff you never use is pointless clutter. For instance, who, other than the Queen of England, requires 4 sets of china? Particularly if it isn't even really good china? Unless you are planning on feeding the entire 7th Cavalry at a big sit down dinner it strikes me as utterly ridiculous to haul 3 sets of china around that you never use. Especially if the china in question is so ugly it makes you eyes hurt to look at it. I just don't get the point. Give a set or two to someone who doesn't have any. Or better yet, if it is really ugly, use it for target practice.
My other pet peeve is keeping broken things that you say you will fix but never do and never will. No matter how hard I try I can't get that idea to make any sense. My friend has two chairs that are completely useless because they require being re-caned. I asked her if she knew how to cane a chair. She said she did not. I asked her how long they had been broken and hanging out in her cellar. She said 10 years. I asked the next logical question in my mind which was, then why the heck are you keeping them? She said it was because she liked them. This was the point when my brains started to leak out of my eye sockets.
“Let me get this straight,” I said. “These are two chairs that would fit nowhere in your living space, have no seats, and you have no way of fixing that have been living for 10 long years out of sight and mind in your cellar like a pair of broken down, crazy old hermits and you want to keep them because you like them?”
“That's right,” she said.
I won't lie to you, it took all my willpower to take those chairs out to be loaded without putting them in front of the truck so they could be run over or throwing them in the dumpster. I thought about it. I wanted to do it. I wanted to start a nice little bonfire with those stupid chairs, but I didn't. I dutifully handed them up to my son to be packed in the truck. He looked at them dubiously and asked what they were.
“Garbage,” I said.
“In that case,” he declared, looking at the stuff in the truck, “They'll fit right in.”
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