Tuesday, April 10, 2007

This Might Fit.

I'm not a great packer. Never have been. I try to subscribe to the rule that you shouldn't pack more than you can sprint with. That if you can't start running with your bags at a moment's notice, you've packed too much.

I took this rule to heart after traveling with Allison, one of my roommates in London. On a trip to Germany, she had obviously packed too much. Cd's IN their cases (who does that?!) snacks, clothes, books, basically everything she owned for a 4-day vacay. So much stuff in fact, that she needed about 9 plastic bags to hold the overflow. Seriously. So cut to the end of our trip. The plastic bags were nearly doubled thanks to all the crap she bought and she stared at everything in the hotel lobby wondering how she might make it to the train. We told her to throw most of it away but she refused, so we offered her a head start and she left 20 minutes before us. I know what you're thinking, that it was mean of us not to help. Whatever. 4 of the bags she refused to throw away were groceries from London. I wasn't about to carry 25 lbs of crisps and her entire music library to a train, I just wasn't. After a leisurely breakfast, Jackie, Robin and I happily threw our backpacks on our shoulders and walked to the train station.

About a mile down the road we saw Allison dragging her luggage, holding 3 large bags and (I need to tell you, this is one hundred percent true) kicking all the rest of her things down the street. All of the plastic bags had ripped, and yet, she still didn't get the hint that perhaps it was too much.

I mention this story only because I've felt a bit like Allison in the past few days. I'm packing up to head back to New York and it's forcing me to evaluate what I really need. It's hard to send the contents of your life across the country. The airline says 2 bags but your life says, what, are you kidding me? I don't want to keep taking junk with me coast to coast but it's hard to part with old t-shirts and pants I have no intention of ever wearing again. Every item of clothing is subjected to the test.
Q: When was the last time you wore this sweater?
A: 2002.
Q: Why are you keeping these pants?
A: Well, I might make them into shorts.
Q: Then why are you keeping all these shorts?
A: Well, I might make those into a blanket.

I kept all of my MUNI passes for 3 years thinking that I was going to do something artistic with them but I never came up with anything. Of course, now that they're gone I think they would have made a sweet pair of shorts. I've saved all the letters I've received (yay pen pals!) while I was out here but those are heavy and have forced me to throw out classic old shirts. People, we have too much crap. Or, I have too much crap. I've had Erykah Badu's "Bag Lady" on repeat while packing to remind me of Allison and force me to cut ties with my favorite useless things.

Truly, I want to throw everything away. The packing is driving me nuts. Speaking of which, can we discuss the Styrofoam peanut for a minute? The Styrofoam peanut is bubble wrap's evil twin. Bubble wrap is sleek, and fun, and practical. Everyone loves bubble wrap. No one likes the nut. The Styrofoam peanut is impossible to arrange once in a box--think trying to shovel a hole in the sand right where the waves hit. Just when you think you have a little space in the box, all the peanuts fall over filling it up. I was actually screaming at a box this morning. I'm not proud of it. Wars should not involve bombs or guns. Planes should simply drop tons of Styrofoam peanuts over cities forcing the bad guys to dig out of it.

So I've been looking at everything I own and thinking about it in terms of shipping costs. Yes, I love that jacket, but it's going to put this bag over the 50 lb mark. Leave the gun, take the cannoli. Or rather, toss the wool, pack the chiffon.

Ha. The idea of me owning chiffon anything made me laugh.


Sarah said...

Wasn't her name Kelly?
Going to see Michelle tomorrow, wish you were coming!:-) Have a safe trip back east.

Jess said...

i made a bet with myself that you would say that. thanks for coming through!

I am so ridiculously excited to see you. you have no idea.

have fun in boston! bang your head against a sofa in michelle's new place while eating a bowl of bananas. you know, as a housewarming type of thing.

Sarah said...

Haha...and I almost thought I would read something about "a friend insisting on calling her "Kelly" the entire trip" at some point in the post. Great minds, Jess.

Anonymous said...

Okay, so it’s not a ‘who has accumulated the most tat’ competition. But if it were…I’d win - and mine is not even personal tat!

My fellow drones and I are about to move offices. To facilitate this, the suits have appointed what can only be called ‘office Nazis’ to ‘facilitate’ our ‘packing’. The problem - we’re moving to smaller offices and, unlike previous moves, you can’t simply transplant years of accumulated files, folders and out-of-date circulars and notices that you might, one day, get around to reading.

Remember that scene in ‘Schindler’s List’ where the concentration camp guards are running after the campers, whipping them - that’s what it’s like, only with clipboards and less charm. In the run-up to the move I am surrounded by people clinging to crates of crap like a fat kid clutches a burger. What the Nazis don’t understand is that while the bottom draw of the filer may be stuffed with paper that has gone unread for years, it’s not unloved or unneeded.

So well done you on having the discipline to move yourself selectively - especially in a town where I bet, just BET, that if you flipped through the yellow pages, as well as movers you’d be able to find somebody to ‘manage’ your move - that is, somebody prepared to put up with ten hours of argument that runs along these lines:

‘Look, are you ever going to NEED this broken remote for a teevee you don’t even own any more?’
‘I’m throwing it.’
‘Noooooooooooooooo, put that back you bastard!’

No? Just me then.

Jess said...


so the "tat" reference threw me. i was picturing the people in your office rolling up sleeves and pulling down pants to show off their not-so-personal tats. which would be what exactly? i'm not sure. maybe instead of "Mom" it would say "Your Mom." That seems less personal.

But how personal would you really want your tat to be? those people who tattoo their own names on their bodies have gone too far.
i have a friend who has a seashell tattoo but refuses to tell the significance. it sort of drives me crazy. i kind of just want to get some random object forever inked into my arm and when people ask about it just say, "Oh, it's a really long personal story."

and they'll look really confused and be like, "Really? The Pillsbury Toaster Strudel has a personal significance to you?"

and i'll just shake my head and look away and say, "Yeah, I don't really want to talk about it."

But more importantly, your office move. You should win some sort of prize for being so attached to work-papers. Are you failing to see that this is the best opportunity ever to throw away work you'd rather not do? Weeks from now when your boss is riding you about not finishing that huge project you can just say, "I'm sorry mate, I think we lost all that in the move. But, you'll be happy to know I saved this old plant and that box of highlighters, so, you're welcome."

Jess said...

sarah, semi-unrelated but still one of my favorites:

-Yeah, when I was dating duncan he wrote a song about me.





-Oh, right.

Sarah said...

tongue in cheek?
Duncan Sheik!