So, um…what day of the week is it? We’re still in June, right? 2010? Oh, good. I haven’t missed too much. Not having to be anywhere at any specified time or place for (more or less) over a month is taking its toll on my awareness of the outside world. Not that I don’t adore certain aspects of having an extended vacation, but I really, really need the structure of my summer job soon to keep me from going crazy. Or possibly driving John off the deep end.
The floating timelessness actually isn’t the problem. Sad to say, but I’m fairly content to be drifting in state of oblivion to time for it’s own sake. Having an entire day to watch stupid shows on Netflix, practice my guitar, work on my book, and devour my summer reading books is a delight. The real problem is that we’re moving in August.
My sense of time isn’t really so far gone that I don’t know our moving date is still over two months away, but here’s the thing: I can’t wait to be out of this apartment. I am sick to death of having to climb over the bed to get to where my clothes are stored in plastic bins underneath it or, alternatively, stubbing my inevitably bare toes on the immovable base of the enormous office chair that is entirely too big for the space. I am tired of almost knocking pans off the stove with my rump every time I try to turn around in our spaghetti-style kitchen and injuring myself when boiling liquids or deadly knives slide off our absurdly sloped counters. I am disgusted by the indefatigable plague of mice and annoyed by the dripping faucets that the facilities management guy failed to fix. Twice.
Taking all these petty grievances with good humor has been an adventure this year, and in all honesty, I really can’t do anything but laugh at my frustration with the apartment. Or at least, I couldn’t, until we signed papers for a new place. Now I can see an end in sight, and whenever that happens, I get hit with “Mouse and Cookie” syndrome. It goes like this…
If you give Melissa a vision of a pretty new apartment to decorate, she will start thinking about how the furniture should be arranged. And then, when she realizes she could get rid of a worn out desk if she used the little table for her computer, she’ll have to try it out. And if that works, she’ll have to put the old desk on Craigslist, which will make her wonder: “What other things are bulky, annoying to move, and entirely superfluous to our contentment?” So then she’ll pull out the garbage bags and start organizing things to be sold or to donate to Goodwill…
You get the idea. Yesterday I bought CD wallets so I could pull all of John’s 100+ game disks out of the jewel cases, store them in a more attractive, space-efficient manner, and organize them alphabetically. (With his permission. Don’t sound so horrified—I’m not that nuts. Yet.) That freed up space on the DVD rack, and as we were watching Watchmen (2 hrs. 43 mins. = too long for a dark comic world I’m unfamiliar with on a tiny screen when I’m in MCS mode), I realized that I could use that shelf for all our card games, which were cluttering up space on top of John’s desk. It took all my willpower to wait until the credits started rolling to get up and carry out my thought.
I am an organizational monster right now. Thinking about how best to consolidate and organize our stuff for a painless move is literally keeping me up at night.
I did have a bit of comic relief and amusing human interaction spring from this insanity, so I suppose it’s not all bad. That desk which I put up on Craigslist sold in the first half hour. When I called the number given in the email, I got a man who didn’t speak a lot of English. From what I heard of the his conversation with people in the background, I think they were speaking Haitian Creole, which I don’t speak at all. This made for an interesting challenge trying to give directions. We eventually agreed that I should email him the address, and the family made it to my apartment a while later.
When my buzzer rang, I answered and told them to come on up to the fourth floor. I wasn’t sure if they definitely wanted the desk or if they wanted it in one piece, so it made more sense to have them come up. I carried the desk close to the door, opened it, and waited to flag them down. And waited. I was puzzling over how long it took to climb three flights of stairs when my buzzer rang again.
The intercoms have pretty poor sound quality, even if we hadn’t been dealing with a language barrier, but I got the drift that they had thought I was coming down. So down I went. On the second exchange, they caught the idea that I thought they were coming up, so up they came. We managed to meet in the middle, and I brought them up to look at the desk.
The desk goes together and comes apart pretty easily, but it’s light and small enough that I had really been hoping they would just take it in one piece. Sadly, that didn’t work for them, so I popped the desk upside-down in the hallway and put the Allen wrench to work. Slowly. I’m not particularly swift with the disassembling of particle board furniture, especially in bad light with three people watching me. I tried to make small talk to lighten the awkwardness, but again…the language thing. I smiled a lot and said nice things, and they smiled back at me uncertainly.
A couple of the screws weren’t biting into the wood enough to come out easily, so the man took over helping me with the keyboard tray. This made me nervous, because experience has taught me that keyboard trays are massively irritating to put back together if they come apart the wrong way. I tried to steady the mechanism, but I honestly don’t really know quite how these things go together…somewhere in the process, something fell apart, and the twelve tiny metal balls that keep the tray rolling smoothly went flying all down the gray and dingy hallway.
It took half an hour, John’s super strong magnets, and four pairs of eyes scouring the hall to find eleven of the balls. We scattered some of them twice more before we managed to discover the trick of putting the tray back together, with some of my neighbors passing by and looking at us like we were out of our minds for wandering around the hall with our rumps in the air and our eyes to the ground, but we did manage to get the roller reassembled.
At this point, I was feeling thoroughly embarrassed at how inept I was at taking apart a very simple desk that I’ve assembled twice, and I was also not sure how I should handle the question of the money. We had agreed to $40 on the phone, but I didn’t wanted to be pushy, especially given how much of a hassle the desk had turned out to be. I offered to help them carry to pieces out to their car, thinking maybe I should just let them have the desk if they didn’t offer the mon
When we got down to the first floor, I was behind them. They hadn’t said anything to each other going down the stairs, but they all paused inside the doors, not looking at me. One of the women started digging around in her purse, and I realized she was probably looking for her money. I looked away to be polite, letting my gaze wander around the ceiling, the stairs, the odd patch of missing tile…
I know awkward situations always feel like they’re taking longer than they do, but five minutes in a small space trying not to watch someone dig through their purse while you’re waiting to carry something out for them feels like approximately three lifetimes when you can’t make small talk. I have no particular love of chatting for chatting’s sake, but I became very keenly aware of its value as a tool for moderating social awkwardness when I suddenly couldn’t use it.
She did eventually find the money, and we parted ways with polite smiles and a sincere conviction on my part that they thought I was a little nuts. Given the fact that I went upstairs to pack a box or two for a move that’s still two months away, however, that assessment would be fair enough.