Sunday, April 27, 2008

Moving -- in the middle of a school year? Oh no!

Teachers always plan any household moves in the summer, right? Yes, but my landlord sold the house I was living in. I knew it could happen since December. I had heard that my landlord's contract with the real estate agent was about to come to an end and that having found condos so expensive they were having second thoughts about selling the house. However, on the last day of the contract, the realtor called and her client had finally gotten a mortgage. So on March 1, I found out that we should move by April 1st. The closing for the house was the last day of March. If I couldn't move, the rent would go up by $300 a month, but I should try to be moved by May then.

I had been looking for a new apartment since December. I was even thinking of buying a multi-family house myself and I did speak to my landlady about buying their house. I looked at dozens of apartments near where I work and even further away. I used Craig's list as well as the local newspapers and an agency in my city that listed all the available apartments. I had my own real estate person who did a great job of finding really nice places. I was afraid that I was buying at the wrong time and was rushing to make a decision too quickly.

On the Thursday before Easter, I decided to look again at Craig's list within my price range. There was one apartment that did not have its price listed. I called and found that the price was negotiable. I looked at the apartment. It was really nice and I was able to negotiate a price in my range. A week previously, I had contacted a moving company and had an appointment on Friday to get a quote for a move even though at the time I had no place to move to. The appointment was rescheduled by the mover for Saturday. They moved me on Monday after Easter. On Easter Sunday, I packed 63 boxes of books, rented a van, moved them, unpacked them to the floor of my new dining room, and returned the 63 empty boxes to my old apartment to repack. As a teacher, I have a lot of books!

Moving day did not end in the manner that I had imagined (to say the least). The movers took apart my bookcases, moved them, and did not put them back together. They broke things and hid it. They had to pack most of my belongings and hence, I did not know where anything was. I was horrified to find that they emptied my file drawers into boxes (picture them throwing the ordered contents of the file drawers into a box). The boxes were marked with their location (kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, living room, etc.) and sometimes there were even cryptic notes as to the contents, but that was not enough. Things in my new apartment took up twice the space that they will eventually take since the files and chests of drawers were empty and the contents were in boxes. I thought that at the end of the day, the bookcases would be standing empty and when the movers left, I would put all the books on the shelves and the apartment would look nice.

It has been over a month since I moved. I just got the second bookcase unit back together on Saturday. The first unit was finished last week. I made a trip to Ikea to buy parts. I bought these units 12 or 13 years ago. At that time Ikea had a much larger selection of wall units and I had bought the top of the line. Today, Ikea sells only two varieties which includes the Billy, which was the most inexpensive line they carry (true 13 years ago also). Ikea no longer makes the hardware for my unit. In spite of the Geek Gestalt blog at c|net saying that Ikea's secret is to minimize the number of parts in their furnishings by designing with same basic hardware in as many products as possible, Ikea has discontinued the hardware I need. I do have all the directions for putting the units together (somewhere in one of those boxes), which directions will include the parts and their numbers. Ikea says there is some chance that if I have the part numbers I can get the parts I am looking for.

I have been living a surreal life where I cannot find what I know I own. I was not able to find my underwear for over a week so I was washing out my single pair of underpants each night. People said I should buy more underwear, but I was sure I had more than enough. When I found it, there were more than 50 pairs. I went through them and threw out the pairs that were frayed. (OK, any that were badly frayed were thrown out years before, but it was time to include these slightly frayed ones into the trash!) In our twenties, we think we have to collect possessions. I am a pack rat and never throw anything usable out. Now I have to change my ways and reduce my possessions.

My goal every day has been to unpack 10 boxes of the over 200 I have sitting on the floor. One has to have a place to unpack into. The woman who previously lived in my kitchen left a fine patina of oil spattered on the doors of all the cupboards. The interior shelves are coated with flour, oil, and other mess that I have to clean before I can unpack my kitchen things. I am told that what she left was much worse and that my new landlord cleaned 90 to 95% of the mess in addition to putting in a new kitchen floor, sink and counter. So it is necessary to open boxes that cannot yet be unpacked and stick post-it notes on the outside listing the contents. I try to keep looking for 10 boxes I can actually unpack.

As I work, it is also necessary to eliminate the empty boxes. Craig's List to the rescue! I have offered my boxes for sale at really inexpensive prices and people have come here to pick up the boxes that are now being recycled! This has worked very well!

Each day there is improvement and the place is getting more organized.