Monday, March 1, 2010

Doing it Wrong: Moving

I once heard somewhere that a woman who's had a baby can never accurately recall the amount of pain she experienced during labor. The theory being that if she could remember, she'd be traumatized, never have a baby again and in the end, the human race would suffer.

I'm not sure if that's total nonsense, but I will say with all certainty that this idea could be applied to the experience of moving into a new house or apartment. I've moved before, I remember it sucked, but I forgot just how much it sucked until I had to do it again this past weekend when we moved into our new house. I suppose if I want to stretch this analogy too far, I could say that moving was like being in labor, in that I did a lot of shouting, my lower back hurt, I required encouragement from my husband, and in the end I wound up with a crying baby (me).

It was certainly worth the trouble, however, because now instead of renting a dark, cramped apartment next to the freeway, we're renting a sun-shiney, spacious house in beautiful Pasadena. We now have everything I've ever dreamed about in my adult life: a dishwasher, a dining room, a washer and dryer, and a fenced-in backyard.

We've been wanting to move since before our wedding. Our apartment complex, once a lot of fun, has taken a weird turn and now has an air of misery about it. And you know how it is, once you stop liking your apartment, it's a slippery slope that ends in pure hatred. I began to notice that everything was always covered in thick, almost greasy dust, no matter how often I dusted. The carpets were worn down and stained. I could spend an entire weekend cleaning and it would still look dirty and gross. I'm pretty sure that in the building's existence no one had ever cleaned things like doors, the wall by light switches, cabinet fronts in the kitchen. Once, in a fit of madness, I went through 2 boxes of Magic Erasers and scrubbed everything. It was then that I discovered the doorknobs were brass, not iron, and that the wood on the build-in shelving and cabinets was covered in something of a gray filth- paste that I had always misinterpreted as the actual color of the wood. The shower had wavering water pressure and temperature. And I couldn't move an inch without colliding with one of our pets.

So, it was time to find a new place. And on our very first weekend of searching, we found one that was perfect.

Since I had a month to make plans before our move, I put a lot of thought into decorating ideas. I had a paint color picked out for the bedroom, spare room, dining room and living room. And because the landlords are awesome, they let us come in and paint on Saturday, before moving in on Sunday.

4 rooms to paint. 1 day. Does this sound like a good idea to you? Because it did to me, and I'm wondering if I'm the only person with terrible judgement.

We started out strong on Saturday morning. It was 10:30. We had 3 friends who'd graciously volunteered to help us paint. Surely we'd be done in no time and I could head off to my friend's party that night.

By midnight I simply had to laugh at my ignorance. We'd long ago lost our helpers, quite understandably, to more enjoyable weekend activities. Devin and I carried on painting like a pair of zombies, groaning and shuffling around. I'd lost feeling in my arms and even when my hands were empty they remained stiff and crooked like a dead crow's foot. Painting mistakes became more frequent and more tolerated.

We finally wrapped up at 2 am. In another 6 hours, we'd not only need to be awake, but totally packed and ready for the movers.

Sunday, moving day, started off just as stupidly optimistic. The movers arrived 10 minutes early. They were not only competent, but also friendly and oddly calming. Having never used movers before, I got a quiet thrill watching them carry out furniture, knowing they would not be asking me for help. If I'd wanted to, I could have just stood around, sipping a mimosa.

But there would be no mimosa sipping that morning. As they moved things into our new place, I made it my mission to finish grabbing the odds and ends laying around our apartment and tidy up. Once again grossly underestimating the time it would take, I presumed by 4pm I'd be totally done so I could spend the rest of the evening unwinding before I had to get to work the next morning.

Ha. Hahahaha.

In actuality, by 4pm I was calling Devin and telling him there was no way I was ever going to be able to lug all the remaining scraps to the house in one trip. Up until that point, the afternoon alone in the old apartment went something like this:

1:08 - Sit on floor of empty bedroom eating Burger King and trying to lure cat out of closet, where he's been hiding, petrified, all day.

2:14 - Run out of boxes and begin throwing everything into grocery bags.

2:28 - Every cabinet or drawer I open is still full. Utensils, product warranty cards, hot sauce, tupperware lids (only the lids!). I die a little inside.

2:47 - Dig around in the cabinet above the fridge. All of the contents are inexplicably sticky. Fear I will encounter a family of spiders at any moment.

3:19 - When did all of these things come into my possession? While throwing away not one, but two perfectly good George Foreman grills I wonder if anyone still uses them. My mind wanders to The Office episode where Michael Scott steps on the Foreman grill that is cooking his morning bacon.

3:23 - I snap back to reality and find that I've lost track of which of the 2 trash bags in front of me is actually full of trash, and which is for things to bring with me.

3:24 - Decide both bags are now trash.

4:48 - Chase cat around apartment, attempting to get him into his cat crate for transport. Am heartbroken as he cowers in an empty kitchen cabinet, his big yellow eyes pleading with me to leave him alone. His yowls for help sound like, "You've betrayed my trust!"

5:25 - Finally succeed in shoving cat into crate.

Later that night, Devin came with me to the apartment to collect the rest of the bags o' crap, as well as the other cat. After we'd locked up, handed our keys to the manager, and started our final drive of the night, I felt relieved.

And then Midge The Cat, furious with all of the day's chaos, peed in the crate. Thus stinking up the car and reminding us that absolutely nothing was going to go right in the entire weekend.

Once I'd given Midge a bath, unloaded the rest of the car, and nearly burst into tears of frustration when I saw our entire lives scattered madly throughout the house, I decided it was time to hit the reset button. I took a bubble bath while Devin ordered Italian food to be delivered. (Plus cheesecake for dessert!) Then I decided it was finally time to pop open the bottle of Cristal that a friend had given us as a wedding present. It was my first time ever trying the expensive beverage, and I wasn't overly impressed. The taste was pleasant enough, but it smelled, coincidentally, like cat pee.

At least I can say now that all of our stuff is in the new place, so the worst of it is behind us (I think). Be prepared: if I have the time for Doing Stuff Blog updates, they may all center around decorating... or the assembly of Ikea furniture... or scraping paint off the floor boards.


  1. The worst/best sentence of this entire post? "...the wood on the build-in shelving and cabinets was covered in something of a gray filth- paste that I had always misinterpreted as the actual color of the wood."

    I gagged a little.

    Glad that you're finally (and cat pee-free) in the new digs!

  2. Bubble baths heal all. The hard part is over. Getting things set up will be downhill :) Can't wait to see pictures! -mir

  3. Which friend gave you Cristal, and can I invite them to my wedding?

    And re: painting, this is why I decided in my latest place that I would paint only 1 wall in the bedroom and guest room. Only the living room was fully painted.

    Oh, and, when I moved from my place in Hollywood back east, I hired a nice mexican man from outside Home Depot to paint my living room back to white. He cost maybe $50, and did it in like 3 hours, perfectly! He had to cover that really dark blue I chose too. Best money I have ever, ever spent.

    - Anne

  4. oh man that sounds so insanely hectic but glad you guys made it out in one piece and welcome to pasadena! :)

    once you're all moved in we'll have to celebrate with some two buck chuck or something (sorry no cristal here, haha).

  5. When did I speak with you on the phone... at least 3 weeks ago right... I thought you were starting to pack then! :)
    With all the moving we did in college I thought I was still an old pro at it... but the fact is I acquired so much crap (do I really need my psych notes from sophomore year?!?). One thing good about moving is it is a sure fire way to sort through your life... and get ride of useless clutter... literally! But now you're moving into a new home and BIGGER .. which mean more space to fill :)... I cant wait to see it in the late summer! And I hope the spare bedroom is done by then!