Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Great Kabul Packout of 2009, or How I Came to Worship Post-Its

It started with the apartment looking like this:

It ended with the apartment looking like this.

In between, it looked like this:

I'm not in the mood to compose a good Regents' style blog essay (for all you non-NYers, that's the standard argument-support-support-conclusion essay format) on the packout. Ergo, a few random thoughts on the big event.
  • Packing out isn't fun. Packing out while sick is just unfair.

  • DC-area drivers seem to be as incapable of reading parking signs as they are at reading traffic lights. I put out three "Emergency No Parking" signs to reserve the street parking in front of the house more than 3 days before the packout. Thursday morning saw two cars and a jeep parked in the reserved zone. One car was there all day. The moving truck couldn't park, and instead spent the whole day taking up the bike lane and part of the traffic lane on Vermont Ave.

  • I called Parking Enforcement at 9:30AM to come ticket the cars. As of 11AM they still hadn't shown; at this point 2 out of the 3 cars had escaped. Parking Enforcement finally arrived at 3pm to ticket the one remaining car. The fine? A whopping $50 bucks. Totally not worth the half hour I spent on the phone getting Parking Enforcement to come out.

  • Nick and I have a lot of stuff. More than it would seem possible to fit in a 650 sq. foot apartment.

  • I think I shall create my own religion dedicated to the worship of Post-It notes. These wonderful little bits of paper were the key to making this packout manageable. Ergo, they were the key to my keeping hold of my sanity. I labeled everything; things that were to go to Kabul, things that were for storage, things the movers shouldn't touch. It was clear and simple and didn't require me to try to be in all places at all times to keep track of what was going where.

  • The other key to my sanity during the packout was my wonderful Toad. I thought I'd need her to help me keep on eye on the packers. Turns out there was little actual work for her to do. But it also turned out that her real task was just to be good company, and to keep me from pacing in circles, hovering over the movers and nervously wringing my hands for hours on end. I love you Toad; couldn't have made it through this without you.

  • My entire wardrobe -- shoes and all -- weighs in at about 220 lbs.

  • I don't know what sort of magic they put in those Mr. Clean Magic Erasers, but it must be a very dark and powerful magic. For it removed even the blackest of scuff marks from the walls. I'm talking black; you don't spend nearly three years wheeling two bicycles in and out of the house without making a more than a few good scuff marks. But they were no match for the Magic of Mr. Clean.

  • When one's dryer vents back into one's apartment, said apartment will yield a galloping horde of dust bunnies, no matter how often one dusts and sweeps. Also, the dust bunnies will mate with human hair -- especially long hair from the head of a female -- to form mutant hair bunnies. Terrifying.

  • Hold a garage sale or Make a massive donation to Goodwill?: one of life's great questions. It's nice to get the money from a garage sale, but sometimes the time saved by just bringing everything to Goodwill is more valuable. Nick and I better be able to take a big, fat tax deduction for all the stuff we've donated to Goodwill. But even if we can't, it still feels good to be rid of all those excess belongings. On to a better and more useful life!

  • I was in such a fog of sleep deprivation and illness that I completely forgot to tip the movers. Still feeling guilty, and still trying to remedy the situation.

  • It is possible to become emotionally attached to houseplants. Also bicycles.

The packout was big. It was scary. It was a looming behemoth of a task that brought me to tears several times in the weeks leading up to the big day. I didn't know what to expect. I had no experience using movers or moving an entire household. I wasn't sure if I was doing the right things to prepare. I wasn't sure if I was bringing the right foods and clothing. I worried that our belongings would be sent to the wrong destinations. I didn't want strangers going through our belongings, and I didn't want them to move things around so that I wouldn't know where everything was. I thought I wouldn't be able to get through it.

But I did. And it wasn't so bad. It turns out that the concept, the idea of the packout was much, much worse than the packout itself. So many thanks to those of you who listened while I worried and fretted and whined about how I had to manage the packout all by myself. With your support I did do it by myself.

And the next time, it won't be so big and scary.


  1. A few notes:

    1) Wow! You also now have good photos for renting your place....

    2) I love post-it notes. I go through a stack a month or so at school. No joke, I'm on my 3rd or 4th stack so far...

    3) Mutant hair/dust bunnies...did you name them? Did they talk to you?

    4) Agreed on the Magic Erasers. Saved our lives in the dorms as well as my apartment now.

    ~Can't wait to see you tomorrow!!!~

  2. I did not name the bunnies. They sat insolently in the corner and mocked me.