March 25, 2007

Progress, progress

The apartment's starting to look like one that's about to be vacated. Thank heaven.

Yesterday a friend helped me haul my futon and heavy coffee table to Goodwill. He also took my bookshelves.

Now, just more packing, packing, packing. And going to work to clean off my desk. Now that's scary.

NYT: 'India Made Easy'

For anyone intrigued by all my blogging about India, here's a New York Times travel story on doing a lot in the massive country in a short amount of time. (You know, for us poor Americans who don't get four weeks of 'holiday' a year.)

Personally, I think I crammed more into my first two weeks in India than Jonathan Allen suggests a tourist can. Then again, I had a personal Indian tour guide, so I had an edge.

Reading 'India Made Easy' certainly makes me want to go back. So does reading my college classmate's blog about living in Delhi.

Someday. I'm thinking Paris first.

March 21, 2007

Frenzied start, settled end

It's 11 p.m. Do you know where your sanity is?

I have found mine, somehow, someway, after starting out the day at a very anxious 7 a.m.

I don't know what I'm embarking on, with this move. Am I abandoning my career? Am I moving toward a better one? Am I leaping too soon? Am I doing it at just the right time?

Those questions confront my ego each morning, in loud, grating "look-at-me!" tones. And I have a big, powerful ego.

Today, I wrestled the ego down gradually. First, I took a walk. Next, I wrote down my fears. Then I made some quiet time for myself, listening to a CD -- about anger theory, actually -- while stretched out on my couch.

It all sounds quite rational now. But at the time, trust me: It was painful.

Around 1 p.m., I settled into the tasks at hand: sorting my belongings, keeping the good and getting rid of the bad.

One big problem I've had in this move is that I've been carrying a lot of paper weight around with me for the past three years -- well, five years, really. I'm a writer, and before that, I was a student. I have notebooks, binders, handouts and New York Times Magazine articles printed on my crappy college printer.

In fact, I've been sorting papers since January. Boxes of bank statements, credit card offers, old electricity bill stubs. It's been rather sobering, actually, watching how my assets and debts have ebbed and flowed over the years.

It's also been grounding, in a way, to tally what I've done over the past seven years away from home. No, it hasn't all been perfect. But I've learned a lot.

I've been in this all-or-nothing funk -- ahem, Ms. Ego -- thinking I can be only all a success or all a failure -- when, in fact, I've been both succeeding and failing all along. I've been at times organized and other times unorganized; at times attentive, at times preoccupied -- always craving more knowledge, always complicating the picture, always thinking about the future.

What I've realized is I haven't always absorbed all of the knowledge presented to me. I've completed the tasks, but not always learned the lessons. I'm not saying that to convey regret. I just want to recognize the rush, rush, rush, the struggle to get ahead, that's led me to this point of needing -- and wanting -- a break.

I'm taking that lesson to heart. Tonight, for instance, I'm not packing. I spent my day sorting, packing and making arrangements. Now, it's time to rest. I watched an hour of frivolous television and I'm blogging. For a hard day of work, I get to write and drink a cup of chocolate milk.

It's not a bad way to end the day. In moments like this, I think I just might learn to allow myself to be happy.

March 20, 2007

The boxes! The boxes!

I've moved five times in the past three years. But piles of half-packed boxes, surrounded by stacks of documents and trash bags full of old newspapers, still frighten me.

There's something quite a bit unsettling about seeing your belongings -- beloved books, favorite jackets and cherished photographs -- scattered about, in various states of disarray, instead of reclining on shelves, hanging on hangers and looking down from display cases.

I have come, however, to realize that this is only a temporary setting, for I've identified the Stages of Packing.

-- Confident Assessment. I look around my home with an eye for what will fit in which box, what items I can give to charity or friends and what items are fit for disposal. This stage brings a sort of calm to my nerves: I know what I'm doing. I can do this.

-- Denial. Here, I have thoughts such as, "this will be easy, " "I've done this before" and "I have tons of time." At some point, Denial wears thin. With an eye to the calendar, I reluctantly dig an empty box from the closet and approach my bookshelf, the beginning steps of a new stage.

-- Panic. Only at this point do I remember that books need to be dusted before packing; that it's difficult to arrange books of many sizes inside a confined space; and that prized, signed books should be put in a water-proof container. How on earth will I get this done? Where is the best place to begin?

-- Packing. It's where I am now, with panic not far behind. I'm just putting items in boxes, with as little thought or trepidation as I can manage.

Thus begins a day filled with packing, sending out my resume and, if I'm lucky, a bike ride.