the #2 stressor

This is going to be the most difficult post to write so far: more difficult, even, than getting that damn first one out of the way. (Of course, we’re less than four months in, so there will be more difficult times. I promise.)

As you know, we’ve moved again. For the second time in less than a year.  This one is very different from the last. The last one was across the country. This one is across Middlefield Rd. The last one had all of our belongings (some broken) arriving in a huge truck and unloaded into our house in less than three hours. This one took place over the course of a week, with Chris and I making no less than 8 trips a day in our mini-van. We had nine months to prepare for the last move, (The pregnancy metaphors abound with that one: I’ll post about it some time.) We had about three weeks to prepare for this one.

About the time I was at my most-stressed with our last move—we had been in California for just a few weeks—I read the status update of a friend of mine who has moved with her husband and three young children (the oldest is eight) AT LEAST six times since having her first child. (These weren’t “small moves,” either. I lost track of all of them, but it goes something like this: Colorado-Kansas-Colorado-Washington-Colorado-Colorado.) Anyway, she wrote, “No matter how many times you’ve done it, no move is easy.”

Indulging my own self-pity, I sort of blew off the comment. She was referring to her Colorado-Colorado move and I thought, at least she’s staying in the same state and I bet they’re moving this time because they’ve found a better house. (Heaven forbid, in the age of facebook, that I actually contact her myself to find out; instead I read her status updates, like all 432 of her closest friends, and feel like I’m all caught up.)

Well, here I am, freshly moved in the same area of the same town in the same state, to a better house, and I want to say: IT IS NOT EASY!!! It seems like we all know the statistics about life’s most stressful events: after the death of a loved one, moving is the #2 stressor, right? (If I had more time, I would look up verification and link to it here, but you will have to google it yourself this time and let me know if I’m wrong in the comments.)

The fastest way for me to explain the stress is to show you a picture of my “closet”:

My closet, my mind.

Each morning, I wake up and look for a pair of clean undies (that are MINE) in this pile, sometimes finding some, sometimes going without, and I consider wearing something other than the same pair of work pants and baseball shirt that I’ve been wearing every day for the past two weeks, but decide a uniform is best in stressful times, and then go on to look for my toothbrush, I think of how this mess is the perfect representation of my mind.

I wore this pretty much every day for two weeks when we moved across the country. And I am going to wear it every day for two weeks now.

Even in the best of times, I am not the most mentally organized person. (Right now my friend Rachel is reading this and thinking, That’s the understatement of the year.) So I try very hard to have an organized space around me. I use hooks and dividers and files and baskets. I identify clutter on a daily basis and put it in a box near the door that I take took Goodwill regularly. (One time I had to go back and reclaim a puzzle that Luke saw in the box, though, so I now I don’t take the kids on this errand.) And I am Very Slow To Unpack. This must drive Chris nuts: he wants to take a box and put it on a shelf and be done with it. But I insist I know what is inside every container, can assess whether we really need it, and then think carefully about the most efficient spot it can go. I don’t like things hidden in storage. To me this means we don’t really need them in the first place. (Except for our Christmas stockings. Those are in a box labeled “Christmas Stockings” in the “seasonal” section of the garage.)

So, my closet will get where it needs to be in time. The kitchen is done. That matters most when you have three children. And, since it’s in the kitchen, the junk drawer is done, too:

Hope for my mind?

But here is the difficult part. The stress of this environment is messing with me. I feel good at doing two things right now: making up excuses to go to Ikea and giving my therapist job-security.

Here is a comprehensive list of the things I DON’T feel good at:

(um…I just published this post on accident. I’m writing the list in a new post now. Stay tuned for, like, 20 minutes.)

*update! it’s published!*


11 thoughts on “the #2 stressor

  1. Pingback: um…the list | [writing] between friends

  2. Funny, I was just unpacking a box right before I read this. I am a Very Slow Unpacker, too. I was unpacking a box of books and taking the time to arrange them in the Best Way Possible, which of course is by color and size. I was thinking it would be nice if you were here to help me, as we have similar tastes in aesthically arranged things according to some unknown Feng Shui God of Placement known only to us. Which of course reminded me of the Infinite Sofa Arrangement incident. Just then, I found in the box a statement from my airline miles account that I forgot I had, and got online to see if I had enough miles for a free trip. Then I could come and see you. 🙂 It was then I noticed a new email, which was a link to this post. Lady, I am just one credit card application away from enough miles for a trip to Cali!

    I’ll send you a picture of the bookshelf when I’m done. In, like, 20 minutes or so. 😉

    • I usually begin by splitting up fiction and non-fiction too, but in the new place I’ve got all black hard-backs together. “Freedom” and “The Marriage Plot” look so good with “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and “The Audacity of Hope.”

      We were on skype with Chris’ sister yesterday and she could see the bookcase behind us. She said, “Did you seriously arrange your books by color?” People assume they couldn’t find anything that way, but chances are good that if you ask me a title, I’ll know its color. Classic fiction and Zen books stay together, though.

      Can’t wait for your visit!

  3. Possible book titles: 1. Looking for clean undies (that are mine)
    2. Doing without
    3. My drawers are a mess

    Kind of says it all….doesn’t it~~

  4. Pingback: what is it with the tampons? | [writing] between friends

  5. Pingback: it’s harder to cry when you’re running | [writing] between friends

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