April 28, 2004

Along the Shit-Stuff Continuum

So my current quandary involves my stuff.

Supply lines are getting longer and harder to maintain, as George Carlin would have it.

It’s not like I’ve accumulated worthwhile furniture, grand pianos, objets d’art, ect. But even a simmering reduction of my assorted trifles leaves me with a small pool of necessary tchotchkes. It’s a question of comfort rather than necessity; strange boughs and thous I am prepared to seek, but my own familiar wine jugs, verse books, and bread-making implements I am determined to drag with me into this grand venture. Some of this is pure consumer avidity: I’ve a few pots and pans and shiny chrome kitchen gadgets received as gifts or hand-me-downs which I am unlikely to be able to afford to replace on my own. But more so it’s pure nostalgia and wistfulness. I am awfully sentimental about books, in particular: a groaning bookshelf’s like a stamp-choked passport, and merely turning over a fly-leaf is sufficient transport for a return visit.

Obstinate as I am in my desire to cling to my stuff, you’d think my requirements would not be so very arduous: a few boxes of books, some kitchen junk, clothes and the odd photo album. And there’s where you’d be wrong. Because between the per passenger luggage allotment on an international flight and a packed shipping container ready to be craned onto a tanker, there is, in the international moving industry, a yawning gulf. After much googling, and a few, gasp, phone calls, I managed to find a few international shippers who’d take allotments of less than a semi-load, for what seemed to me to be reasonable prices. (I’ve noticed that people my age, and I am one of the worst examples, are somehow offended when they can’t find something online ---- What do you mean you don’t have a website? You’re a gas station, for god’s sake! How else am I to find out whether you have double-a batteries in stock? In part it’s our mollycoddling-born, woollyheaded understanding of the internet as the repository of all worthwhile human knowledge --- sorry, Unca Cecil --- but I think it’s also a matter of trust, of feeling that seeing a place of business’ website gives you a solid piece of evidence by which to evaluate them. And it does, I think; at the very least it shows you whether they have enough cash to hire professional and competent designers, and the kind of image they want to project.)

But then, I found this site, movingscam.com. I think their motto is “Founded by the Bitter,” and they’re just a leetle paranoid about the moving industry. Specifically, they advise letting stringent preparations, vigorous research, and bone-deep suspicion be your guides in selecting a mover. They don’t go quite so far as to recommend the you bring a wreath of garlic and a vial of holy water when you introduce yourself to the van lines representative, but it’s possible I wasn’t sufficiently thorough in reading the F.A.Q. The site is quite useful, but it’s also scared me shitless --- as horror stories about having your stuff held hostage in a foreign port on pain of thousands of dollars ransom probably ought to do.

This leaves FedEx or U.P.S., neither of which, as best I can ascertain, offer ground (i.e., cheap) transport cross the pond. Unfortunately, airmail presents a serious problem for me, namely that I probably won’t have an apartment to put my stuff in if arrives in country only a couple of days after I do. I could leave it here, I suppose, and depend on friends to ship it off to me after I give them the all-clear. My roommates have kindly offered to perform this feat, and while I have perfect faith in them, I retain a nagging fear of something going wrong in the handoff --- misunderstood directions, mysterious surcharges --- and being an ocean away and unable to fix the problem.

A friend-of-a-friend I’ve heard tell of tossed her stuff into a couple of footlockers and shipped it off parcel post; this is the option to which I am, in my despair, currently inclined. Despite a vivid memory I retain of being stuck in traffic next to a parked mail truck, watching its denizen heave packages off its shelves and, literally, kick them to the curb. Heave. Thump. Smash. Heave. Thump. Smash.

Hmmm. Y’know, there’s something to be said for that final refinement, the absolute distillation, as dahling George puts it, “Only the stuff you know you're gonna need”:

“Money, keys, comb, wallet, lighter, hanky, pen, smokes, rubber and change.”

Maybe I should just add lipstick and a passport and call it a day.

Posted by Diablevert at April 28, 2004 02:26 PM

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