Tag Archives: move


How do you cure hoarding tendencies? Move 3 times in 12 months, one of those international, followed immediately by 2 trips during which you must live out of your smallest suitcase. Maybe it’s not for everyone, but it has made me habitually re-evaluate what is important to have with me at all times. It comes down to my passport, my money, my computer/iPad, phone and some clothes and kitchen things family. Oh right, family! The ones I love are healthy and happy and so am I. That’s all that really matters.

Still, there’s all this other stuff. Baggage. It trails behind me with little wheels, sometimes a comforting pleasure, sometimes a burden. I’m packing today and trying to decide if I check a bag, how to keep it light. My brain is a chaotic mess of lists that keep slipping away. My body is ready to relax. Tonight I’ll hit the road for a research trip in which I have 5 different destinations in less than 10 days.

ImageIn honor of the voyage ahead, I finally emptied my backpack (left exactly as shown). I’ve pared down the contents several times in the past few weeks, but still, the contents are impressive. It’s my “just in case I need it” inherited hoarding disorder. 3 chapsticks, several tampons, two packages of kleenex, one pack of baby-wipes, numerous pills (sinus, pain), 10 or more pens, scraps of paper, an umbrella, plastic bags, headphones, iPad charger, sunglasses, cereal bars, breath mints, a bottle of water. I even found a flashlight and a clean pair of underwear. Those are the things I drag with me everywhere hidden in pockets. That’s not including the important passport, money, phone, books, tech…

Apparently I still have work to do in the hoarding category. But at the moment, I’m pleasantly unpacked and about to start stuffing it back together again.

And you? What’s in your bag?


the importance of being home

one day D.'s pants flew off the porch and into a red bud tree

Yesterday as I walked “home” from the park, I had the first notion of feeling comfortable in my neighborhood. All the plants and sounds that have felt exotic are suddenly starting to look normal as I begin to forget about pine, oak, maple and elm trees and adapt to eucalyptus, jacaranda, and palms. Armadillo roadkill is replaced with squished water dragons, robins in trees for cockatoos, and squirrels for possums. I’m adapting.

As we begin our fifth month in this house, however, we only have one thing on our mind: find a house that feels comfortable. We spent years renovating and refining our home in the States to make it just the way we wanted it. By the time our daughter came along, it had almost entirely been redone, and after her birth we went ahead and renovated the only room that had been left untouched. D. and I both spend the majority of our working hours in our home, and the comfort of home is a value we both enjoy. Yet, here we are living in what D. affectionately calls “student housing” with noisy neighbors, a railway running practically through the back yard, and a thin layer of coal dust that accumulates every week. Besides college football, the only thing I truly miss about being back “home” is exactly that – our home.

Now that we have had time to acclimate somewhat here, however, we have the luxury of choosing another place to live. For me, last weekend was a sort of “rediscover your town extravaganza” which we used to explore different suburbs that were more peaceful, even if further away from my job. No matter – there were ocean views and breezes, not to mention the fresh air. There is a whole new world out there. But to get there, we have to pack up our suitcases again and re-acclimate to another neighborhood, child care facility, daily pattern and so on. And six months after that, we’ll get to do it all over again.

If nothing else, the search for a comfortable home is keeping the luggage light and the compulsion to accumulate at bay… for now.

coffee hoarder

I’m sitting in my office with three cans of diet coke and a cup of macchiato in front of me. I am a caffeine junkie. And if you want to hear me wax and wane nostalgically for my former home, ask me about my coffee maker.

This beauty makes me cringe with pangs of nostalgia. I bought it from Ebay in 2008 just before I got pregnant and fully knowing I would have to limit my caffeine intake. D. said never mind all that because I drink enough coffee I would get my money’s worth. Did I ever! The people living in our home kindly wrote to me today to ask how to properly descale her. Thank you for taking good care of my Magnifica.

But back to reality in Australia. D. is worried that I’m hoarding coffee makers. I started here with instant coffee and survived OK for a few weeks. Then I bought a simple single-cup Italian espresso maker which I cleverly told D. “came with my pack of coffee.” He smartly replied, “That must’ve been one expensive pack of coffee.”

I quickly got tired of making single cups on the stove and when we were in New Zealand tried a French-press which worked quite deliciously. I thought I’d give it a go. Another $20 invested and I’m already waffling between which device is better. Both are so sadly inadequate but sufficient. D. knows me too well and is worried a third machine is coming once we move in January.

Hoarder or coffee lover? I know the truth.

advantages to hoarding

I just emptied out the small rubbermade box that has been sitting on the floor behind me for more than a week. I also decided I could fill it with the few things I’m allowing myself to keep in storage like Grandma’s jewelry, Great-Grandma’s wooden sleigh, a tiny box my best friend from ages 8-14 bought me in New Zealand … you know, stuff.


I said it was empty, not that I got rid of the stuff.


In the box I found a letter from an old boyfriend, ostensibly written long after we had broken up (maybe 4 years later). In it he spoke about finding lasting friendship and if that were possible in any form other than marriage. His letter was bright, full of humor, misspelled words and bad grammar – exactly what I remember about him. I chose not to recycle the letter and I quickly put it in a folder that contains notes written between me and friends in the 1980s (filed in chronological order). His letter doesn’t belong there, but it was an easy place to stash it.

And that folder contained a letter I had written in 1989 to “Mr. Journal” listing the pros and cons of a potential move to Missouri so my father could marry his now wife. The witty and poorly organized writing of a 14-year-old me further cracked me up. (One of my “cons” for moving was that I would have to go to church more often. And how would I live without my boyfriend at the time who I swore I was in love with – but also my crush at the time with whom I had no real relationship.) I got a few moments of real joy by reading crap that I have saved for more than 20 years and have now placed back onto a shelf.

Add to this, a Fedex truck sighting just interrupted this blog post because I’m awaiting some important documents. I scurried down to the garage to see if a package was left (it wasn’t), and looked into the garage for the first time since some friends used it to store their belongings during a move. D. had warned me that I might be unhappy about how much junk is in the garage. He vastly underestimates my tolerance for stuff. I laughed to myself, “That’s hardly anything. The garage is half-empty.” Second advantage to the hoarder: optimism regarding space’s capacity for holding things.