A Moving Rohrschach Test

Two parts:

1. You’re about to move house, and you’re dying to be in your new digs. You’re lucky enough to have access to the new place a full week before you really have to be out of the old place, so you figure you’ll schlep some stuff over a carload at a time and get it moved in. What stuff do you schlep to the new place first?

2. There are now five days remaining before the movers show up, and you’ve got massive amounts of crap to pack, so much that it feels a bit overwhelming. Where do you begin? What do you pack first?

I’m not exactly sure what the answers will tell you — perhaps it’s something akin to, but different from, the house-on-fire-what-do-you-grab scenario. Nonetheless, I’m curious. My answers a bit later. (Packing, in the meantime.)

11 thoughts on “A Moving Rohrschach Test

  1. I’ve never had movers before, but I did move from one apartment into another in the same building a few years ago. I tended to concentrate on moving books because I have so many, plus I’d recycle the boxes (move a box, unpack, repeat).

    I tended to save furniture until the bitter end.

  2. 1. Lightweight, medium-sized items that would be too annoying to pack–esp. things you don’t want the movers to break. E.g., nicely framed wall art; table and floor lamps (unless you lack overhead lighting–don’t leave yourself packing in the dark!); small and medium-sized rugs (schlep them yourself so you don’t have to bother tieing them up).

    Also: Lightweight nonessential stuff that you can toss into garbage bags–throw pillows, extra blankets, summer clothes. Save your boxes for other things.

    2. Leave books for movers. The movers can do them MUCH faster than you can, and you’ll kick yourself if you throw your back out hauling something that the movers could have carried.

    I usually end up packing many of my lesser-used books first, since all those nice, neat boxes make me feel like I’ve actually accomplished something. Essential books come almost last, and so do in-season clothes (since garbage bags can be used if you’re short on boxes). Second-to-last are all those papers and files I meant to weed through before moving but then gave up on and shoved into a box. Sigh.

  3. Um, don’t be crazy, you have movers for a reason… to move your stuff. Try to concentrate on packing and be patient. Patience failing… sleep on the floor with your laptop for company and eat takeout.

    Moving stuff one carload at a time… definition of pointless hell. Remember, you’re now a college PROFESSOR, not student. :>

  4. Okay, wow. Those are indeed some revealing responses, as I suspect mine will be. Chuck and Mal, like me, I see the scars of grad school all over you — both in the instant gravitation toward the books (and the hierarchy thereof) and in the recycling of boxes. (And the never having used movers part, Chuck. Movers, I’ll tell you, are like bubble bath to me: pure indulgence.)

    On top of which, Mal, you are a far more sensible individual than I am, and far more organized. Especially the thing about the lampshades and the nicely framed wall art — honestly, that wouldn’t have occurred to me. I intend to take my pictures down tonight and drive them over to the new place. Thanks for the tip!

    Rich, my friend, you know I adore you, but your triathlon blog had the name it did for a reason. 🙂 The point is giddy anticipation — I so couldn’t wait to be in the new place that I immediately started moving stuff as soon as I got the keys. The super added bonus is that the new place got pretty much habitable — or at least camp-out-able — very fast.

    So, my own answers:

    1. Weirdly, in addition to the air mattress and sleeping bag and other random blankets and quilts, the schlepping began with a carload of basic kitchen stuff, plus all the countertop appliances. I’m not sure why. I had the thought in the back of my head that if I could both sleep and eat in the new place, everything else would be bearable. But why that required the moving of the breadmaker, the blender, and the (unopened) rotisserie, I’m not sure.

    Further schlepping included all of the hanging clothes in the house, more random kitchen stuff, a lamp, and a box of stuff from the bathroom.

    That’s pretty much what drove me to ask the questions: I’ve been trying to figure out what, psychologically speaking, that portrait says of me. All I can come up with is that I’m completely scattered and overwhelmed right now, and am figuring that a little here and a little there will keep me from making huge mistakes.

    2. As to the packing part, a genius colleague of mine said to me the other day that other people can pack your stuff a minimum of twice as fast as you can. And it’s true: another colleague and her husband came over and spent a couple of hours helping me the other night, and they tore through easily four times as many boxes as I did. It’s my overwhelmedness, again, and the over-cautiousness with which I’m packing, and my need to look at everything and think, “do I want this? How badly? How well-packed should it be?” So since I was hoping to cull some crap from my stuff in order not to move it yet again, I put them on things that I knew could be packed without culling: books, DVDs, CDs, etc. In the meantime, I focused on the kitchen. I have a ridiculous amount of kitchen crap.

    But in this, I’m generally with Chuck and Mal: I pack the books first, in part because I know they’re all going to be moved, in part because I’m not terribly likely to need them for the next five days, and in part because of the sense of accomplishment in seeing those piles of boxes all taped up and ready to go.

    What’s astonishing me at the moment is the following: how much more room your crap takes up when it’s in boxes than when it’s put away in cabinets and on shelves.

    Okay, back to it for me.

  5. next question then–where do you start for the unpacking/installation once all your stuff is in the new place ? (I invariably put up shelves and unpack the books first, which is very unpractical but jumpstarts that home feeling)

  6. Hmmm. First I make sure the furniture is where I really think I want it. Then I get the bedroom set up for sleeping: bed made, lamp and alarm clock on nightstand, etc., so that at whatever point I want to collapse, I can. Then I tend to move back and forth between the kitchen (unpacking and washing newsprint off of dishes) and the bedroom (unpacking clothes). Books, surprisingly, come further down the line; about unpacking, I’m apparently pretty pragmatic.

  7. You’ve got a rotisserie? *boggle*

    When we drove down from NorCal, we brought the computers, the Dance Dance Revolution pad, and all the wine and booze. That’s a pretty true portrait, I think.

  8. The urn of ashes (if I had one)

    The web cam (to check in there from the other there — all in the service of anticipatory bridging to the new place of connection)

    Candles (again the bias to sight but also for the smell that blowing out the burning wick gives off — it’s a ritual that means home)

    Shower soap & towels (bathroom before kitchen — but not necessarily if I were moving to a place without convenient take out or delivery)

    So in short, something to burn and something to wash with. All skin and nose.

  9. I can’t wait to hear about your pressure-cooker adventures. My 1960s fear of them things is in full force, I discover, undiluted by the passing years and plenteous contact with the stovetop kind, thanks to all my Desi friends. So reserve a post for the report, eh? With or without rotisserized carnivoriphoria.

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