A Productive Day …

I am having a productive day today. And yesterday was a good day, too, in terms of “getting things done”. It sounds like a tiny thing, when I type it out loud. “Today is a productive day.” Or “I’m getting things done today.” It almost sounds like nothing at all. I mean, loads of people get tons of stuff done each and every day. I’m sure they’re out there: People who are organized and have all their life-shizzle together and have a checklist for their day and actually check off things from that list as the day progresses.

I am not one of them. I feel like our society (or culture or whatever you might want to call it) values those people. They are the “go-getters”. They are the entrepreneurs. They are the people we all look up to and admire. I wish I was one of them. I used to be organized and together and all of that stuff, but it wasn’t really ME. It was a way that I coped with my own anxiety and nervousness. It was a masquerade, of sorts. Everyone around me thought it was real. On some level, I even thought it was real. But, once Life and Depression caught up to me, I realized this is not me.

Basically, I am a mess. Depression has made me forgetful and disorganized. I don’t write things down or make lists like I used to. I have all the best intentions, but I don’t seem to get things done like I used to. It makes my poor, long-suffering husband crazy. He was used to overcompensating, super-organized me. I don’t think he knows quite what to make of the squidgy mess of a person I am now.

So … this is all a lot of background to lead into my productive couple of (so far!) days. When COVID roared into our lives and our state told everyone to stay at home, I thought, “Okay! This is the perfect time to get some things done!” We are nearly a year in our house here in Illinois, and we still haven’t finished hanging pictures or arranging things in all the rooms or clearing out the bits we no longer need. My office space, in particular, was a huge mess, with things tossed crazily onto shelves and nothing put away. This was mostly because I never took the time to find places for all the things.

I went into stay-at-home at the end of March feeling a little bit eager and excited about the possibility that I would get some of my “home” stuff done. And from the end of March to the end of April, I managed to accomplish … basically nothing. I did get my closet done, because the installers were considered “essential” in our state and were able to keep the appointment to install the shelving and drawers. If not for that, my closet would still be a mess. But that’s a post for another time. The closet happened at the end of April.

From the end of April to now, nearly the end of May, I have, once again, accomplished … NOTHING. Seriously!! Every night, I went to bed telling myself, “Tomorrow, I’m going to …” You can fill in the blank with whatever household task comes to mind. And every morning, I got up feeling stressed and anxious and depressed and completely unmotivated. After each day spent binging British crime shows on Amazon Britbox, I would go to bed feeling horrible and useless. Depression sucks, you guys. It gets you coming and going, and it makes you feel like an ass both ways.

But no more!! At least, not for now. Because yesterday and today, I tackled the shelves in my office. They started out much like the above, only imagine less books and more clutter and dust. It wasn’t pretty. Just looking at them made me want to cry and run off somewhere to hide. I’d been doing more than my fair share of that since we finished moving into the house, so I told myself to suck it up. Start from the beginning, I told myself. Take it one step at a time.

Because that’s the way of any task, isn’t it? No matter how overwhelming it might seem or how unpleasant, if you start at the beginning and take things one step at a time, you will eventually make progress. It feels so much easier breaking things down into smaller bits. Before you realize it, you’ve done all the bits and the entire task is accomplished.

Yesterday, I started at the top of one side of the shelves and worked my way down. I gathered up all the little decorative doo-dads I have collected over time. There are a LOT of them! I love them, but they are horrible dust catchers. I found display cases to corral all my miniatures and fiddly toys and small anime figures. These are awesome, by the way. I love having these display cases. I dusted everything. I put up racks to display my dragons. You guys know I have a thing for dragons, right? I’ve mentioned that a time or two in here. I shifted things from shelf to shelf so that they made visual sense to me.

Today, I dusted some more. I brought books from the library downstairs to store up here on the shelves. I’ve decided to put my manga in here, instead of taking up library space for them. I took out the things that don’t need to be in here any longer. I arranged all the books and looked for book ends to prop them up. I found a decorative basket to hide away my power strip. Because power strips are ugly, aren’t they? I put up my fun little stained glass signs. I untangled my wind chimes and hung them in the windows.

It’s not done. Not yet. I know I have one more box of books in the basement that need to come in here. I need to find a couple more book ends. I still have a few small pictures to hang up here and there. I know things will have to shift around to find the “best” spots. There is always a lot of fiddling and finessing to do before shelves are settled and done.

But that’s okay. I am on the way and nearly done. I had a productive day — two days in a row! And you know what? It feels pretty darn great.

MOVED to Illinois …

I did not plan on being gone for an entire month. But you know that old saying about the best laid plans and all that. Yep. Story of my life. By now, I should know that the only plan I need to make is no plan at all. But some life lessons are hard to learn.

So! We are actually in Illinois. We are actually in our new house. And it has been a series of mishaps along the way. Some of them were funny. Some were not. I’ve intended to sit down and write a post so many times since we arrived in our new town. But life kept getting in the way. Things were too busy. I was too busy trying to figure everything out. For a long time, I didn’t have my ┬ádesk or computer set up. And then, when I finally had a space where I could sit down to post, I felt overwhelmed by all that had happened. Have you ever felt like you had TOO MUCH to say? And so, you end up not saying any of it because the saying of it feels too hard and like too much. Maybe it’s just me, but that’s where I’ve been.

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And so, I think I will just start at the beginning and figure out where to go from there. This is as good of a beginning as any other: our new front door. To our new house. In our new town. In our new state.

It feels like it has been a long journey to get here. And I mean long journey in every aspect: emotional, mental, and physical. We closed on our half of the Virginia house sale on June 26. We signed our papers in the morning, and then went back to our house for the last of the packing and loading onto the trailer. Compared to everything the movers took, we didn’t have much left. But we had more than we thought. I bet you guys know how that goes, right? It was not a great day, honestly. It was hot, and my husband was stressed, and my daughter was unhappy. Basically, we all fought and snapped at each other all day long. Well, not ALL day. For half the day, until we got on the road. By then, we were all angry and not speaking, so the first half of our drive to Illinois was fairly peaceful.

I know, I know. It’s awful. And I guess I’m a terrible person for admitting this happened. But you know what? It’s also real. This is Real Life. And, in real life, anxiety and stress have a way of spreading themselves around and oozing downhill into all the nooks and crannies. In real life, we get mad at the people around us, no matter how much we love them. It wasn’t my proudest moment or my best day. But it was Human. Also, we all survived it with our love and our senses of humor intact.

I had all these plans of blogging from the road, because it really was a good trip, in the end. We sang and told jokes and stories. We laughed a lot. The dogs even enjoyed the long car ride, which was a huge relief for me. But the trip was also exhausting, so my keyboard remained silent.

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We drove about halfway (or possibly a little more than halfway) the first night. The second day, we got on the road relatively early and made it the rest of the way. Sadly, we were not coming home to our new house. We arrived in our new town around June 28, and we still had 5 days to wait until we could close on our new house. And so, the local Candlewood Suites became our home away from home.

It doesn’t sound too bad, does it? This idea of staying for a few days in a hotel … not having to cook … not having to clean … and so on. It actually sounds pretty great — like a mini vacation at the tail end of what turned out to be months of non-stop activity and stress. This is what I told myself, anyhow. I was trying to stay positive and look at it as some quality time with my daughter getting to know our new town.

In reality … yeah. It wasn’t quite all that. Our first room, which we camped in for a couple of days, wasn’t even a suite. It was a studio, which means it was bedroom, kitchen, and living room all packed into one tiny space. And into this tiny space, we crammed three people and two dogs, plus our suitcases. Most of the things we brought from Virginia had to stay on the U-Haul trailer out in the parking lot. We arrived to an unprecedented heat wave, with temperatures hovering over 100 every day, so my husband and I unloaded some of the most fragile things from the trailer and into a storage unit provided by the hotel. Basically, this meant my anime art collection got unloaded so it didn’t melt. But my nail polish collection had to stay on the truck, along with our furniture and other odds and ends.

By the second day in this tiny room, we were all on each other’s nerves. Even the dogs were feeling it. My boy dog started following my girl dog around the room and growling at her. My girl dog is a nervous nellie, anyhow, and she began slinking around and trying to hide in the bathroom. This led to more growling. Which led to more slinking. And so on. And so on. And the humans in our party weren’t much better. We were all cranky and annoyed with life.

On the morning of the third day, we were able to move into a larger, one-bedroom suite. There was a fold-out sofa for our daughter to sleep on, and space for the dogs to separate from each other. The only drawback was that it was on the third floor. And neither of my dogs have experienced apartment or hotel living in their lives. My girl dog, nervous nellie that she is, turned out to be a total rock star with this situation. My boy dog could not adapt. He is used to peeing as soon as he gets outside the door, and he still wanted to do this in the hotel. I ended up cleaning up on the stairs a few times and on the carpet a few times, too. And we had to basically run down the stairs with him reminding him, “Don’t pee. Don’t pee. Don’t pee,” all the way down to the bottom floor. Good times. Actually, it is pretty funny.

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We closed on our house on July 3. After our townhouse in Virginia and the hotel’s close confines, the new house felt HUGE. Of course, we headed over as soon as closing was done and we had our keys. And we were greeted with clean, empty rooms devoid of clutter. The dogs were in heaven. They had a great time running up and down the stairs and sniffing into every nook and cranny of each room. My boy dog got so excited that he christened our master bedroom the very first day in the house. Yeah. That was not the highlight of the day, for sure. But I guess it’s the little things that makes a house a home, right? Right! *ahem*

Since we were in the house on July 3 and July 4 was a holiday, the rest of our things were not coming until July 5. This meant we had two wonderful and lovely days to enjoy all this empty space. I know that sounds weird. But I really got a kick out of going up and down the hallways and moving from one room to another. We didn’t really have hallways in the townhouse. We had a hallway on our third floor, where the bedrooms were. But the first and second floors were open living space. You guys! I never realized it before, but I really missed hallways and walls and separate rooms.

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Of course, those empty spaces didn’t stay empty for long. And they didn’t feel huge for long. By mid-morning on July 5, they looked more like this, with boxes stacked everywhere. And furniture stacked everywhere. And things stacked everywhere. The movers unloaded the entire day. They started around 8:30 or 9AM, and they left around 5 or 5:30 PM.

I stationed myself in our family room, just off the kitchen. It’s the most central place in our house, and I was the “traffic cop” of the unloading operation. I had the task of catching every person that came through with a load of boxes so I could tell them where to put things in the house. More or less. The way our packers labeled the boxes meant that some things ended up in completely the wrong place, but I did the best I could.

It was a long, hot day. And it was a mess. At the end of it, I stood in my family room, surrounded by stacks and stacks of boxes. Even though I hadn’t carried or lifted a single thing, I felt exhausted, both mentally and physically. I felt like there would be no way I could unpack all of this stuff. I felt like I was in no way equal to the hugeness of the task awaiting me. And I wanted to cry. It was not the joyous homecoming I had expected, that’s for sure.

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So, here we are: a little over a month later. Our daughter is finally registered for school. (This was a huge ordeal; perhaps it will be a blog for another time.) My husband and I finally managed to get our Illinois driver’s licenses and license plates for the cars (Another huge ordeal … are you sensing a theme here?) Our daughter has been attending marching band camp and rehearsals since the end of July, and this is her second full week of school. We are slowly learning our new town and finding favorite places and things like that.

Are we totally unpacked? NO. We are still working our way through boxes and trying to figure out what we want to keep and what we want to donate. We make regular runs to Goodwill and to the recycling center. For the most part, I have unpacked by myself, so it has been slow going. Thankfully, my husband started working on the huge stacks of boxes in our basement storage area last week. He has made a lot of progress down there! Our kitchen is up and running. Our master bedroom is up and running. I have the bare bones of my office space up and running. Our daughter’s bedroom is more or less sorted out and functioning.

We are getting there. But it takes time for a house to become a home. It takes laughter and memories. It takes long, quiet nights enjoying a good book in a quiet room. It takes so many other things that are subtle and gentle and pass you by unnoticed in the hustle and bustle of living. But, one day, all the boxes will be unpacked. All the things will be put away. And, somehow, we will realize our new house isn’t just a “house” any more. Instead, it has become “home”.

I know one thing for sure: I am NOT moving again! (Famous last words …)