The best-laid plans of mice & men get totally buggered up when you move

May 18th, 2010 § 1

Last week, I wrote about the way I organize my books by genre and then by author’s last name. I alphabetize my herbs too, on the same theory that organized objects are less likely to wander off. Which totally works as far as my herbs are concerned. I’ll just check … yes, cinnamon is still there between cayenne and cumin.

What’s that? Why, yes, “control freak” is a label that’s been applied to me. That’s harsh, though. “Control fan” is more accurate. I’m a big fan of control. I go to all its gigs, and I’ve got the T-shirts to prove it.

I used to take quiet satisfaction in being able to find any of my possessions in less than two minutes. My  original mortgage papers from 1987? Check. The plaster cast of a spaniel that I painted (very badly) in the second grade? Check. (Willing to sell the spaniel, by the way. Any reasonable offer accepted.)

And then, after spending 19 years in one place, I moved six times in the last four years. The last move was back to my house. So here I am again, and here is most of the stuff I started with: but not all of it.

Because I’m telling you, friends, that there is no controlling your things once you start moving. Swaddle them in bubble wrap until they look like artifacts from the Plastic Planet, and they will still find a way to break. Label every box in painstaking detail – CHOPSTICKS, CANDLES, THAT TACKY PLANT POT FROM AUNT SELMA – and it will still go missing, which at least solves the problem of the tacky plant pot.

Lost: one badge. Found: a bad smell in the basement

To add insult to injury, after you’ve moved, you will suddenly develop a need for objects that you  haven’t used in years. You’ll rediscover a taste for brandy and then find that your snifters are broken. Or you’ll decide to take up bog snorkeling again, and where are your flippers? Lost in the move.

Case in point: somewhere in my possession – unless, of course, it’s wandered off – is a badge for the Liverpool School of Language, Music, Dream and Pun that Allan Williams, “the man who gave away the Beatles,” handed to me one day in the bar of the Everyman Theatre.

I hung on to that badge for 31 years, waiting for (1) the World Wide Web to be created (get on with it, Tim Berners-Lee!), (2) blogging to be invented, and (3) myself to wake up and smell the blogging coffee. Finally, all three of those things came together, and I sat down to update my travel blog with an entry about my encounter with Allan Williams.

“What ho!” I thought, as I typed. “I can illustrate this blog entry with a photo of the badge! Assuming I can find it.” I remembered where the badge used to be: stuck on a bulletin board in my office. But that was six moves ago. At this point, the badge could only be in one of the unpacked boxes in the basement.

Looking for the badge?

Looking for the badge?

I’m sure it’s harder to find a needle in a haystack than a badge in a basement full of boxes, but at least the haystack doesn’t smell like skunks. I found some other things – the tacky plant pot from Aunt Selma hasn’t run off after all – but not the badge from the Liverpool School of Language, Music, Dream and Pun.

For all I know, it might be the only such badge still in existence, and now I’ve lost it. I also seem to have skunks in my basement, but that’s another entry. For now, take my advice, and don’t move. Also, do let me know if you want the spaniel.

(Color illustration of a hog-nosed skunk by Louis Agassiz Fuertes, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.)

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