Tuesday, October 15, 2013

T Minus Three Days: This Will Happen

The Future Is...Now!
I've been a good boy today, and so it is without guilt that I sit down for a brief update of the move.

What I have done: given away a lot of things, including things that have yet to leave the apartment but, I am assured by their new owners, will be claimed. Packed  stuff in a lot of boxes. Taped most of them shut. Scrubbed grease off of kitchen utensils and vessels which will be packed by the movers. Gotten a portable hard drive and transferred most of the contents of my main backup to it, so that if the backup is lost or damaged, I can get another one and not lose anything.

What I have not done: Gone to the market today for one last visit. Weather was crappy, and I have firmly imposed on myself a do-not-buy regime. I need to be consuming (or giving away or discarding) food, not buying more. Although that pear I had for lunch sure was good. Got two more of 'em, though. Filled out the forms: there's a customs form and an insurance form, and I have to have copies both for the movers from Marseille and the home office in Californa, as well as copies of the main pages of my passport (the one with the picture and the passport number) for both of them, and I also have to fill out the insurance form for the stuff I want to insure. Which I'm putting off because who wants to deal with forms?

What I did yesterday: EP figured out a giant garden-and-housewares store that was near the tram, like most of them aren't, and I went there yesterday to buy bubble wrap and ecologically-sound plastic peanuts. Naturally, I got off the tram one stop early -- this on the line that only runs every 15 minutes or so -- and wandered around looking for this store. I'd seen it before: my first trip to the Paris Store, the gigantic Chinese supermarket here, I got off a stop early for that, and that was the stop for the place I was looking for. So I got back on the tram for one stop, then was given wrong instructions by the information desk, who didn't understand a word I said, went back to the information desk after looking around the store, and got a completely different set of instructions (from the same woman) and discovered what I was looking for. Two rolls of bubble wrap, two bags of peanuts, a roll of tape, and no, monsieur, there's no bag or other means to help you get this back to the tram stop comfortably, you'll just have to stumble along with a bulky, albeit light, load.

(Today I started building more boxes with the new tape. It seems to be allergic to cardboard. I'll tape up a box, turn my back to get stuff to put in it, fill it up, seal it and turn my back again and pop! The tape's come loose. Where is the reinforced tape you can buy in Germany and the U.S.? Dang!)

Got back here and was so enervated I did basically nothing all day after that. The sun had come out, it was unseasonably warm, I wasn't dressed for it, you get the picture. I did manage to connect with an Argentinian guy who wants some of my stuff that others don't want, and, in the spirit of the day, sent him my address -- but wrote the wrong street name! How do you do such a thing when you've lived in a place for five years? So he came, failed to find me, and went home. Today he's sick. But I suspect he'll get the things anyway. I'm just filled with optimism.

The unexpected highlight of the day was a moving 45-minute conversation with an old running-buddy in Berlin, an American who'd played a huge part in my life there, especially early on. He's facing the decision of whether to become a German citizen (his wife's German) or move back to the States. The kids are mostly out of the nest, and he hasn't been back to the States in years. It's a toughie, and it makes old single me realize that there are, in fact, some advantages I have in this situation. I told him he could crash on my couch any time. Wherever it'll be by the time he takes his reconnaissance tour.

At the start of the day, I'd taken a shower, and, for some reason, looked at the water (which takes forever to drain) and realized that it was the exact color of the dust I've been sweeping off of things here. Dust is a problem here in Montpellier, more than in a lot of places. Mostly, the dust in your house is human skin cells sloughed in the course of everyday living, but here they're joined by extremely fine sand. The weather patterns here are cold air comes off of the mountains, the Cévennes, and warm, moist air off the Mediterranean. The Mediterranean winds, though, carry this fine sand from the Sahara, the desert that comprises most of northern Africa. It's usually not detectable until you start to sweep your floor or try to get to places that are hard to reach. And that's what color the water was.

Every day I uncover more dust and wipe things as I put them in boxes. I'm almost through, though, so now it's about getting rid of more stuff (all these old clothes! You can't walk two blocks in Berlin without hitting a clothes collection bin! And I'm going to leave them out for the Romas? Incredible!), cleaning some stuff, doing a load of laundry, and packing one checked bag, one carryon, and the computer bag.

I look around, I see less stuff, and I feel better. One week from tonight, I'll be in Austin.

There'll be at least another blog post before I leave (and one on the Lichstenstein show in Paris, too).

Wish me luck.


  1. Good luck. Bonne chance. Chok Dee!

  2. Luck!

    Hey, I lost track of you when you switched blogs (and my entry for you got lost in my brain. You know).

    In the last two months, I've revved up my writing. It's still very much amateur-grade, both at the sentence-level and the concept-level -- I'm still fighting through a fog, even after five years of the stroke -- but writing about music helps. In fact, it was writing about Henry Threadgill that brought you to mind.

    Here's my blog:

    Of course, it's very bad just to drop in to self-advertise. Very very bad. I abase myself.

    Now I catch up with Ed Ward. Oh! Diary of Amy Rigby? I didn't know she had a blog. That's second.


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