Monday, October 6, 2008


We are moving in five days.  

Yup, five days.

There are no toilets or kitchen counters or sinks of any kind in the new house.  Curtains?  Nope.  Floor?  Getting laid tomorrow, we hope.  Window screens?  Appliances?  Nary a one.

Yet we are moving in five days.  And tomorrow we are going to Disneyland.  WhooHoo!!!

Anything to get out of this hell made of boxes where our house used to be.  

Five days.

Holy shit, what have we done...


Friday, August 29, 2008


We got rid of a lot of stuff yesterday.  A LOT of stuff.

When we inherited the house after my father died, it was full to the gills with stuff.  Random stuff (plastic caps for glass soda bottles to keep the fizz in if you didn't finish the bottle), treasures (his baby book, a journal of the last year of a friend's life), useless stuff (credit cards from out of state department stores, expired for 30 years), furniture (some useable and some not), books of all shapes and sizes, and lots and lots of trash.  We filled a 40 yard dumpster to the top, and still there was stuff.  The shredding company came and hauled away a truckload of paper and disks, and still there was stuff.  The electronics recycling people came and filled two HUGE boxes six feet high and still there was stuff.  You get the picture.

Stuff.  What a great word.

There was supposed to be an estate sale this past weekend.  Object - to get rid of stuff.  Any stuff that didn't sell was going to be picked up by a charity, and (here was the theory, anyway) the house was to have been empty of stuff by today.

Apparently, the estate sale lady realized there was too much stuff even for her to deal with.

Honey - what are we going to do with all this STUFF?!?

My father had some good points - most of us do, even the total assholes, right?  I mean, there's probably even something about George that Laura's fond of - but he was not by any stretch of the imagination a charitable guy.  He was the kind of guy that not only would ignore the homeless person asking for help, he would talk louder - like a little kid on the playground.  (I don't hear anything, you hear anything?)

We decided to give away the stuff.  All of it.  Okay, almost all - there are a few good pieces slated for the consignment shop, and our friend the designer is trading us his services for the really cool retro 50's modern bedroom set, but everything else...  

Lisa put an add on Craig's List - free stuff.  I posted to my Yahoo group - free stuff.  This address, this day, this time.

People came.  A lot of people.  And carried away armloads and carloads and truckloads and vanloads of stuff.

Everybody was nice.  Everybody was respectful.  Nearly everybody said thank you.  Nobody argued or said hey - I saw that first!  Perfect strangers helped each other carry heavy things out.  A few different people came up to me and said I found something I think you probably want to keep and handed me a set of keys, or a vintage movie projector, or an inscribed book, or a photo.

A guy who was taking lots of things asked me if we were keeping the wheelchair.  I said no, and if he knew someone who could use it, he should take it.  He got a funny look on his face (like an I'm a macho guy and can't be emotional kind of look) and said his father was 90 years old and had been needing a wheelchair.

Two women who had lost their house and their stuff were thrilled to find glasses and coffee mugs - they were down to one cup, they told me.

A young mom with a baby was ecstatic over the kitchen stuff - she'd been needing kitchen things and didn't have the cash to buy them.

A four year old girl was totally happy with my childhood bright green plastic Goofy.

At first it was weird to watch strangers carry away stuff that I remember growing up with.  Part of my brain kept wanting to say WAIT!  That's MINE!  I remember those pink plastic cups...I went outside once when I was five and it was hailing and I got some hail and sat for an hour watching it melt in ONE OF THOSE CUPS!!!

But as the afternoon went on and more stuff went away, it started to get positively therapeutic.  We smiled and chatted with people.  We thanked them for helping us by carrying away stuff.  It stopped being work and became an exercise in letting clearing out a bunch of intangible stuff right along with the physical.

And it felt like some sort of completion, to be able to be charitable with my uncharitable father's stuff.  Some kind of healing of the universe, somehow.  I hope wherever he may be, he felt it, and understood.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Found it!

So there have been several dozen things over the past few weeks where I've said, "I've gotta blog about that!"  And mama time being what it is, nothing gets blogged.  But TONIGHT...

Trying to figure out what I was going to cook for dinner tomorrow night.  Hmmm.  Am I going to have to stop at the store after I pick the big boy up from school?  I hope all day for him, work all day for me...if we have to do the grocery store at 5:00 and then come home and cook dinner, that could be icky...what's in the freezer, I wonder?  Maybe last time I was at Trader Joe's I bought something wonderful and easy and healthy that I can cook.

Ewww.  Very old vegetable soup.  Nope.
Chicken burritos would be good...but the microwave is broken.
Potstickers with some rice would be easy...but there aren't enough of them.
Chicken breasts with....hmmm....something...

Hey, what's that?  Way in the back?  Wrapped in the...Target bag?  WTF?  Don't we EVER clean out this damn freez...

And guess what?  I found the placenta.  From the homebirth.  At the end of March.  That the midwives said they didn't remember getting rid of - but we thought they were kidding, cuz we didn't ask them to save it.

Five month old frozen placenta is NOT the kind of thing you want to happen upon unexpectedly, just so you know.


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Time Has Come...

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes and ships and sealing-wax
Of cabbages and kings
And why the sea is boiling hot
And whether to move to the `burbs or not."

I keep saying that what really did it was the guy puking over the fence into our yard at 2 AM.  But that's really just the symptom of a larger problem - the problem being that there's a lot about our little corner of urban paradise we've been consciously ignoring, and the puke on the lawn just brought things into that much clearer focus. 

So we're packing it all up - the boys, the cats, the dog...all 25 boxes of books, the furniture, the hippie accoutrements, all the kids' STUFF and the rainbow flag and leaving the urban life behind.  Don't forget the sage sticks, honey...I think we're gonna need them.

The house we're going to started out as an unqualified disaster.  My father lived there for 40 years - from 1968 until he died this past February.  He had a hoarding problem (drawers full of empty check boxes, hotel soaps, pencils and post-its), ran an accounting practice from home (drawers full of client files and boxes and boxes of old letterhead), and was a total slob when it came to housekeeping and home maintenance and repair (piles of dust and dirt, ripped up carpeting, holes in the roof, and tree roots growing out of the bathroom cabinets). 

In a lot of ways it's exciting - House as Blank Slate.  But also scary - it's the house I grew up in and as such, there's a lot of uncomfortable baggage.  But we're planning and designing and dreaming and clearing it all (tangible and intangible) out bit by bit.

As I'm the Queen of the List-Makers (my wife reminds me of this frequently)...

Things We'll Miss About the City:
  1. Being able to walk to a dozen different wonderful eating places when we're too lazy or disorganized to cook.
  2. Not being able to walk down the street without seeing someone we know.
  3. Going to the neighborhood bar for drinks, knowing the bartender, and then walking home - no parking hassles, no designated driver needed.
  4. Our cool funky hundred-year-old house.
  5. Drinking coffee on the front porch in the morning and seeing friends and neighbors walking by.
  6. Running to the grocery store and back in five minutes when I'm cooking and realize I haven't checked beforehand to be sure I have everything (Grandma would be ashamed of me).
  7. The wonderful front yard that my wife worked so long and hard on.
  8. Going from driveway to freeway in 45 seconds.
  9. The new paint and new windows we just spent a fortune on.
Things We Definitely Won't Miss About the City

  1. The aforementioned puke on the front lawn.
  2. Crazy f*ckers in our alley at all hours of the day and night.
  3. Loud drunk people coming back to their cars at 2 AM and stopping to talk while leaning on our fence.
  4. No parking.  Anywhere.  Ever.
  5. Trying to manage two adults, two boys, two cats, one dog, and all the assorted things that go along with that in 1000 square feet of space and a tiny yard.
  6. One bathroom.  Four people.  
  7. Police helicopters.
  8. Living in close proximity to two hospitals and a fire station - sirens galore.
  9. Feeling like we're taking our lives in our hands when we cross the street, even in the crosswalks.
  10. Used condoms on the sidewalk.
  11. Having an alley three feet from our bedroom window, with constant traffic of crazy f*ckers, loud trash trucks, and people driving 80 miles an hour.
  12. Not letting the kids play out front unless we're both out there too...and feeling a little uncomfortable even if we are (it's a busy street).
  13. Keeping the cats inside all the time so they don't get squished by people driving 80 miles an hour, or kidnaped by the crazy f*ckers.
Yup, time to move on.  We'll keep you posted...