Take Two #89: Packing and moving is real work
By Kyra-lin Hom
This week I packed my life into a very small box. If you ever want to feel like a packrat, shift everything you own into one pile of packed boxes. Stare at the pile long enough to firmly entrench that singularly traumatic image into your brain – those who have done this know what I mean – and then tell yourself to 'heave!' I don't actually own that much. Most of it is pretty much craft supplies: fabric, sewing machine, serger, mini kiln, molds, etc. But seeing it all shoved together in one space, I wanted to toss all of it.
My boyfriend and I packed in two stages. The first day was dedicated to the boxing-up process. That means that day one started out calmly and methodically. I, for one, was sorting through the minutiae to organize it just so. After all, I obviously had plenty of time. This is the box for metal working. This is the box for electronics. This is the box for beads. Somehow, after packing and moving twice in the past year and a half, I still thought this section-by-section, one-day approach was more than enough time. I never learn.
As anyone not me could have predicted, this pedantic process steadily unraveled as the hours progressed. By midnight... Well, let's just say I've a few mystery boxes. I also vaguely recall loosely tossing in my sewing needles and pins. Though that memory would be far more helpful if I could recall which box I tossed those sharps into. My unpacking mantra should be 'proceed with caution.' At least I packed densely. I was convinced if I could press in on any side of any box, it needed more stuff. (This would have been more effective if our packaging tape actually stuck to cardboard.) We used similar methodology when packing our moving pod. As long as the forklift doesn't actually pierce through the side of our shipping pod, we should be good to go – and oh so much thanks to who mentioned that to me for that mental image.
That said, late day one I hit a complete anxiety wall. I had thoroughly underestimated how much I had to pack and how long the process would take. That coupled with stripping the walls in preparation for truly leaving home for the first time (moving for school and moving for life are very different experiences), and I was a complete and utter wreck.
I'm sure others of you have hit your wall before. Where you're going, going, going and then – BAM! No matter how hard you try, you just can't convince your body or mind to function for one second more. That was me. With just a few boxes worth left to go, my brain quit. A visiting friend found me that way ten minutes later, sitting in a scattered mess of my remaining things. I'm sure my face was some version of pure anxious helplessness that I can only compare to a little dog winding its leash around a pole. Have you witnessed this before? They go around and around and around, and when they reach the end of their leash they sit down and stare at you pitifully like their world is broken.
I blame sleep – or rather a lack thereof. Everyone knows sleep is important. Without it we become listless, cranky, forgetful and even ill. It's right up there with eating and breathing in the essential elements of life category. Yet so many of us, myself included, consider it a wasteful inconvenience. Margaret Thatcher is quoted saying, “Sleep is for wimps.” With artificial light and an obsession with 'efficiently' using our day (me more than most), we've relegated sleep to a low rung priority. I do this to myself quite a lot. I push and push until I can't push anymore and suddenly I'm melting in an oscar-worthy impression of my 4 year-old niece.
You would think that with things like an increased risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and mood disorders hanging over our heads we would make the time for that shut eye. Not me. I'm somehow the exception. I don't need the full 8 hours to feel rested – none of us do actually. Like our culturally contrived diet of wheat and low fat, high sugar foods, we have created the 8 hour night. Did you know that people most likely slept in 4-hour chunks, separated by a couple hours of wakefulness in the middle of the night? This began to change in the 17th century with the invention of the lightbulb and thus the cheap extension of the waking day. Oh the things you learn when you're too tired to work, but too anxious to sleep.
What I've learned through repeated cycles of work until I drop, recharge, repeat is that when you hit that wall you should just stop. Even if you can keep working, what will take you half an hour tomorrow could take you three hours tonight. Instead try something really unusual: close the computer, but down the pen, turn out the lights, and let yourself sleep.