Five Things I’ve Learned Unpacking

As I mentioned in my previous blog post we moved house recently.  This means I’ve spent a lot of time over the last fortnight unpacking.

I hate unpacking.

Part of the problem is Wolf and I are ‘let’s keep this just in case’ kind of people.  Not quite hoarders, I don’t think, but certainly getting there.

Before moving to this house we lived with my parents for almost two years (it was never meant to be that long but…housing market…need I say more?) and a lot of our stuff was packed away in their garage for that entire time.

Unpacking a mix of stuff I used regularly and things I haven’t seen for two years made me realise some things.

  1. We own a lot of envelopes.

Like, way more envelopes than normal people would ever have use for.  In fact, if anyone reading this ever needs an envelope: don’t go and buy a pack because I have more than enough to go round.  I imagine the problem here is that we’ve never had a place for envelopes because we don’t use them often enough.  So, every time we need an envelope we buy a new pack of envelopes.  That adds up considerably over the years.

Here are a few...
Here are a few

  1. We own a lot of books.

Okay, so this probably won’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows us but we have a lot of Goram books.  I knew we had quite a lot of books but every other box is full of books.  I’m trying to unpack boxes and it’s just: ‘Books, envelopes, books, clay models I made in primary school, books, more envelopes, more books!’  And, as I found out trying to carry home the recommended reading list from my first year of doing and English Literature degree (before I bought everything online), books are heavy.

Wolf – who had to carry all the boxes of books upstairs – thinks we should buy books for the Kindle from now on.  Which, I have to say, I’m totally on board with (after all, it’s much easier to actually read books on the Kindle and not try to awkwardly keep a book open if you’re eating whilst reading etc.)…as long as we also buy all the physical books, too, so I can leaf through them to find a quote I’m after and look at them admiringly on their shelves and smell them and…what do you mean that defeats the entire point?

  1. ‘Paperwork’ can mean almost anything.

Quite a few boxes have ‘paperwork’ written on the side as part of the contents (you know: Hair straighteners, Envelopes, Paperwork).  It seems to be quite a vague term, though, and one I’ve used to cover anything from bank statements and letters about pet insurance to instructions for a toaster that broke three years ago or a plan for an essay on whether Mary Wollstonecraft’s novels can be viewed as works in their own right or merely as extensions of her work as a whole from my final year at Uni.

I don’t think there are enough sections in the filing cabinet to file away all the ‘paperwork’ I need to sort through.  When I set up all the sections in it I didn’t think to include ‘unidentifiable drawings of trains by Tyger’ or ’12 years of ‘Give Blood’ letters’ or ‘used envelopes with phone numbers written on them from when I was on the phone and needed a scrap of paper’ dividers.

  1. I keep a lot of things for ‘sentimental’ reasons…and then forget.

In many ways I’m not a very sentimental person.  I don’t really keep cards (though, I appreciate the thought)…or send them myself. actually.  I’m not good at remembering anniversaries of good or bad occasions.  I don’t write heartfelt messages to people as my status updates on Facebook.

Having sorted through many boxes of my own junk, though, I’ve realised I have a tendency to keep bizarre objects for sentimental reasons, which might not be so bad but I can’t even remember the sentimentality behind some of the objects.

I know the piece of ‘gold’ coloured plastic came from a bumble bee ring and it broke when I was with my cousin once so we each took a bit of it as some bizarre ironic parody of a friendship bracelet.  I doubt he still has his half as a 30 year old man…I think I’ll chuck it.

However, I’m not so sure why the green, plastic lollipop stick has sentimental value…though I know it did at one point.  I guess I’ll chuck it, too.  I also can’t remember what’s important about the three rusty washers on a piece of string but I know there was a reason I kept them…chuck, I know.

Here are some I'm, seriously.
Here are some I’m keeping…no, seriously.

  1. I can’t not alphabetise.

I am messy and disorganised in many ways.  However, I secretly love to arrange and sort things.  Like egg boxes.  I love the cartons of 15 because it doesn’t matter how many eggs are left in the box, you can always arrange them so they form a symmetrical pattern.  And I do.  Every time.  Regardless of whether the previous person to have eggs left them in chaos.

I’m like a reverse Monica (Friends references are still hip, right?).  Rather than having an immaculate home with one horrifically messy cupboard, I’m generally messy but with a few little areas of order and satisfying neatness.  Before we moved to my parents’ I had all our books, CDs and DVDs arranged and alphabetised.

Actually, I *ahem*…also…umm…alphabetised our herbs and spices…but I admit that might have been taking it too far.

We have too many of all the things mentioned above (except herbs and spices) and our shelves are overflowing somewhat so I thought I when unpacking all the DVDs, at least, instead of lining them up neatly in alphabetical order, I’d just stack them like my mum does and so save space.  But I couldn’t bring myself to stack them any old way.  How would we ever find a DVD??  I can’t do it.  I can’t live in a world where it’s okay to have Die Hard on top of Shaun of the Dead or Amelie under The Rocky Horror Picture Show (unless you have a very, very small DVD collection consisting of just those two DVDs…which would be an odd choice).  So, even with them stacked I alphabetised them.  I couldn’t not.

So, there you go.  Unpacking hasn’t been entirely bad; I’ve gleaned these deep and meaningful things about myself as a person in the process.  Like…I have too many envelopes.  Really deep and meaningful.

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  1. There’s nothing wrong with alphabetising herbs and spices …
    Add to that record collections (or CDs). I once ordered them alphabetically by record label. Extremely geeky and very useful to know that Elvis recorded on RCA at one point.
    As for envelopes, you never know when they might be useful.


    1. I alphabetized my herbs and spices! Also our record collection, but since it was so eclectic, after trying to sort by Jazz/Rock/Classical, I gave up and sorted by artist. My house is tidy, but dusty. I’m a dust-if-I-see-it kinda gal. We donated over 100 books to our local library when we moved. The entire “Game of Thrones” series fits much better on my Nook than on a shelf, and I can skip the endless descriptions of coats of arms.


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