Blue Genes and Other Conspiracy Theories

Jack Poker hand

Others call it Playing the Hand You’re Dealt, and I am holding a Full Haus.  Full from basement to attic, side to side, front to back.  No matter how the cards are shuffled, the process of playing those cards will take me on through to my little urn in the ground, however long that takes.

It starts with genetics.  For me, and others around me, the Baby Blues started when I was a toddler.  Full-blown depression hit me in my teens.  Panic disorder joined in.  I was both blessed and cursed with a critical eye and a serious orientation, even as I became known for my dry wit and tendency toward humorous expression of ordinary events.  I was also most likely given DNA which prevented me from acquiring that subtle trait called Organized.  I have never gotten to the end of a calendar or list or agenda without a detour of some sort, so I should have expected my new lifestyle to take detours as well.

But no.  The absurd complications that have been arising from my journey from a Full Haus to a Tiny House are keeping me awake at night.  Just as I dive in, the lake freezes over and I land with a splat.  And the ice skates were finally donated just last week.

The plan, after taking into account the limitations of income and legal expenses, was to obtain a very large pocketbook and tow it behind me.  Never again would I concern myself with forgetting the grocery list or wishing I had worn different shoes.  It got complicated immediately.

First, it needed to be a part-time endeavor, beginning in April.  Three of the first five adventures were simple hotel rooms with a micro-fridge.  Generally the rest are resort-style units on wheels in a former campground serendipitously created at the exact time that I started looking.  The towels are plush and the appliances are new.  Each unit has something I will decide to keep for my own design and something else I will discard as unworkable.

Once the concept formed, the clutter issue had to be addressed.  For better or worse, I started with paper.  Digitizing all the paper in my home was a ridiculous concept, so when the new printer/scanner and laptop combo didn’t work appropriately, there was still plenty to shred or recycle directly.  A good deal of paper clutter was actually created  in the first few weeks that the devices failed to meet their sales pitch descriptions.  One such scrap contained the Golden Ticket to allow for a refund.  Toss in low back pain and a cranky ignition and I was soon wondering if I was ever going to be able to pat myself on the back.

As June approaches and five units have been explored, I find myself joyfully pushing that rock up the hill in spite of everything conspiring to make it more difficult than expected.  Unstable Internet.  Rain.  GPS errors.  Mud.  Wrinkled clothes. Broken plastic silverware.  Squirrels.  Rude restaurant servers.  Long lines.  Ripped grocery bags.  Split seams.  Melted ice cream.  Can openers for righties only.  Pills.  No cell towers.  All first world problems, to be sure.

So deal again, Mr. Karma.  I will ace this.

 

 

 

 

April’s Fool Goes on the Road

pexels-photo-52599.jpegApril marked the beginning of my part time tiny house lifestyle, and it was not smooth sailing, let’s just get that much out of the way.  Trip Number One, to a small motel room in Amish Country, started two days late because of a delay in the delivery of a traveling scanner.  April Fools Day probably wasn’t the wisest day to start a new life anyway. –

Lesson one: Be flexible.

Lesson Two: Expect your navigation device to get restless and fall asleep.  A human, you can whack on the shoulder.  When you’re driving alone, you’re stuck pulling over onto the shoulder just to make sure your device hasn’t lost interest in assisting you.  Then you have to wait for a red sports car to cut over into the passing lane so you can actually get back on your journey.

Lesson Three: Do not pack more than your back can carry, and once packed, make sure your Stuff can’t slide around in transit.  Twelve banker boxes full of paper sit quietly behind me going west.  Eight banker boxes are far less cooperative going back east.

Lesson Four: Find a way to get your emails every day.  Even a three-year perfect payment history will not protect you from losing your cell service while you sit at the side of the road trying to call AAA.

Lesson Five: Never assume that you can leave your Stuff in the vehicle until your next trip.  Your son might get a job and need to haul his sofa to a new apartment.

Lesson Six: Plan for a lot of sitting.  When traffic is slow, I have learned to blow bubbles out the window.  For an extra advantage, the inevitable spilled soap is great for coffee dribbles. Keep water nearby for these laundry issues, as well as for thirst and medication.   The smaller the bottle, the less likely you are to bump into the ceiling to get to the bottom of it.

The Biggest Lesson: Laugh.  Whatever goes wrong will teach you something about yourself or the world around you.  Sometimes both.

 

The Saggy Baggy Elephant

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Yes, I used to hoard this collection of Kathryn Jackson’s Golden Book elephants.  It started long before I met the elephant in the room, the X I like to blame for all my negative characteristics.  Everyone brings baggage into a relationship, but X was down two hundred pounds when we met, and that was long before anyone had heard of Gastric Bypass Surgery.

But this is not about X.  While I am aware that many “declutterers” get a kick out of weighing their trash on its way out of the house, I could not do that without bringing It to the local meat packing facility, which in fact was once suggested by his doctor.  And X is not on his way out of the house.  I am.

What drives me toward the direction of a minimalist lifestyle is simple.  If there is space, I will fill it.  If the excess skin isn’t removed like they do on television, there is always room to grow, and physical growth is not a great idea once you’re collecting a pension.  Downsizing is good exercise for the condition of a person’s legacy even without hoarding.

My first trip to Lilliput Little Life had to be put off for two days, but there are benefits.  For one thing, I’ll have my new laptop by then.  For another, I can still have my ninth annual celebration of lung decluttering.  (Eight years, eleven months, three weeks, two days, 23 hours, 26 minutes and 24 seconds. 131359 cigarettes not smoked, saving $37,557.73. Life saved: 1 year, 12 weeks, 1 day, 2 hours, 35 minutes as of Tuesday, March 20th)  And maybe most important, my sons can help load the van with the stuff I plan to go through while on the road.  The plan is to not let it back in the house.

But back to Sooki the elephant, whose wrinkles gave him character: One Two Three Kick – when the Stuff is gone, there will be room to dance.

Baggage on Wheels

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Living on the road has a much greater appeal now than when I was a kid sharing a tent with a bunch of brothers. At least half of it is probably genetic, and the other half is circumstance.

I remember the family trip that formed my approach to all the packing decisions that followed. I was 16 and we had rented a motor home for a heavily planned journey around the country. As the only female teenager, I was given more latitude than the others in terms of packing. My hair accessories alone, which included soup-can rollers in those days, took up more space than my little sister. She could verify this, because she was not trapped in the bunk with me the night my head got stuck between my pillow and the ceiling.  Circling my room, I gathered everything except what I knew I could leave behind.

This is the packing method I used for everything.  From purse to diaper bag, car to basement, everything was ready for possible use at a moment’s notice.

Until it wasn’t.

Like car keys that keep burrowing into the bottom of your pocketbook, I eventually noticed that the convenience of owning something was no longer worth the time it took to retrieve it.   So now comes the time to stop packing and start living.

Very few of us have the good fortune to start fresh at retirement.  Previous decisions restrict our options.  Downsizing is a tedious process that takes so long that we sometimes die before we complete the job, leaving the work to those we want least to burden.  In a couple of weeks I start the process of removing my Stuff from the house where I spent half my life suffocating in, living part time in a series of small spaces, and returning to the place where I raised my children, refreshed and prepared to waltz where the baggage once covered the dance floor.  And free to spike the punch bowl.

 

 

 

I Refuse to Set One More Trap

We grew up with hamsters.  They were only a little bit uglier than chipmunks at camp, but they were sure more cuddly than the field mice who have invaded my current space in suburbia.  I know.  I’ve only seen that one so far, but like flies, you kill one and a thousand come to the funeral.

Don’t tell me they were here first.  I know.  My house was built on the edge of a dairy farm.  I met them before we moved in, thinking I’d lay out my white satin fabric on the brand new builder’s carpet.  When the view was similar to something with Bibbity Bobbity Boo in the foreground, they ran me off.  Ultimately, the wedding gown ended up in an upstairs closet, above the only clean carpet left in the house after 32 years.

The secret to keeping mice to a minimum in a neighborhood where corn grows a hundred feet from your front door is to thank your neighbors on both sides for their cat.  I get to skip those gifts of dead birds also.  Pity the lady next door who finds a dead mouse still attached to the trap, because I am one of those women who think any living thing within my four walls is unwelcome, ugly, and creepy.  No spiders.  No bees.  No stinkbugs.  No bats.  No woodpeckers.  And especially NO RODENTS.  Even houseplants don’t survive here.

I’ve seen those Hoarders shows where Matt Paxton can’t get the scientist to understand that her possessions are contaminated because of the mice.  I’ve seen Cory Chalmers provide a nebulizer treatment to an asthmatic hoarder because of the mice.  I’ve seen a hoarder cry when he had to get rid of his pet mice because they were eating his walls.  And now I see me, holding the best excuse for a complete clean-out of the house, wanting to see every piece of evidence that each of my treasures is truly ruined.

I forgive myself for the glitch in my brain, but I don’t think I’ll ever forgive myself for giving up before my children get the job by default.  Flylady tells a story about a woman who left behind only what could fit in the trunk of a car, but she had the biggest funeral in town.

I hoard the names of my teachers, as you can see.  Add Dorothy the Organizer to the list.  And Zach Giffin too.

 

The Catch 22 Lifestyle

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What has more buts than a locker room?  Clutter – But I might need it. But Mom gave it to me. But Toddler made it. But it was expensive. But I could make something out of it. If there were no buts in this world, there would be no clutter.
Clutter overwhelms us because it is the evidence of our indecisiveness. We know – we are absolutely certain – that the moment an item leaves us, we will need it. We have many examples of this from the past, but we can never seem to recall them at the moment they would be most useful in an argument. That’s the thing about clutter. There is so much of everything that we can find nothing.
I had an especially difficult relationship with my possessions while I was deciding to  divorce. I simply could not find a way to decide which one of us would be leaving, so I neither packed up nor put away anything.  Now that I see that I’m not staying, I can’t decide what to bring with me. Every decision leaves a trail of others that weren’t chosen.  I mourn the loss of all the lives I will never have, even as I mourn the life I wasted by not choosing sooner.
My creative solution for my indecisiveness is to live a week a month away from my hoard, not unlike my earlier test runs in the mountains and foothills of New Hampshire, trying on different lifestyles and noting what items I regret leaving behind.  I hope to report my struggles and achievements here, while learning to deactivate the glitch in my brain that says I must keep my entire collection of cast iron pans, even though I only use one.

Full Haus to Empty Nest

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Imagine a little old lady and her rubber tree plant, living in a VW Camper with no vacuum cleaner, curling iron, or closet.  Every night she sleeps in view of the stars, never twice in the same location.  Imagine all the room she has in her head for the people she meets, the stories she shares, and the incredible weightlessness of knowing she never has to dust anything.

I could not aspire to become quite that unconcerned about living without my treasures all around me, but it doesn’t hurt to start redefining what a treasure really is….people are always more important than things.  Unless you’re a rubber tree plant riding shotgun with a little old lady in a Microbus, offering nothing but high hopes.  For no other reason than the fact that other RV full-timers found her life amusing, she has found immortality; even if she hasn’t breathed upon this earth for two dozen years.

I like to think that she memorialized her life in a digital blog as she boon-docked her way across the country.  And the rubber tree plant laughed all night long as she sat by the fire, recreating the stories that fed her life and filled her private library.  But I don’t even know her name.  Ann Onnie Ms or something.  When I hit the road, I’m going to look for her, and if I can’t find her, I will become her.