Packing it in

As of yet, anyway.

The other day I mentioned that I had 13 unfinished drafts in the queue waiting to be finished/polished/fully started.  As of this morning it was up to 15.

See, I tried this week.  I really did.  Had some ideas (some great ones, too!) and started getting them fleshed out, but then something else would come along to get in the way of the creativity/coherent thought.

It has not been my favourite week.  Been having a lot of those (not favourite weeks) lately.

Last night I spent the evening packing.  I am moving house in less than a month (!)  and the anxiety/stress about the coming chaos finally got me off my butt to start the procedure in earnest.  It’s not so much the packing I don’t like (though the packing is hardly fun), but living surrounded by boxes and being unable to find something that just might have been boxed up accidentally?  Crazy-making.

I don’t do well with chaos (an understatement, if there ever was one).  I am a 21st century BCE old fogey at heart.  Like our Mesopotamian forebears I am FAR more affected by the dichotomy of order and chaos than I am by the good/evil that the monotheists started on about later.

But I’m not going to talk further about the whole externalization of evil nonsense at the moment.  I honestly don’t have the energy right now. 

Moving- even if it’s for a happy reason- is never a fun process.  Add in the crazy logistics of contemporary life- cost of trucks & storage, shifting all the billing addresses, cancelling all the no-longer needed services, changing the driver’s license/health card, booking the time to DO the moving…


The packing isn’t always the worst part.  It provides a good opportunity to purge the life trappings that have become unnecessary and the chance (awesome for a lover-of-order like me) to shore up the awareness that there is a place for everything and everything CAN be in its proper place.

The last time I moved house I packed in a fairly robotic frenzy.  I had experienced a major life-change (one that was forced upon me rather than reached through mutual discussion and any semblance of respect) so things went into boxes with only the most minor attempts at purging.  Unless it was truly rubbish, into a box it went.

So there’s some ‘unexamined stuff’ to go through.

Which means that this time out I’m finding all kinds of interesting things.  Some melancholy, some cool as hell.  Old letters from friends long gone, love notes best consigned to the trash, CDs I forgot I had.  Cassette tapes I forgot I had.

While packing up the shelves that hold the vestiges of my life in the ivory tower of academia (such as it was), I found those items left to me by my late mentor and friend, Papa Kaz.

As we cleared out his office for his impending retirement years ago, we reached the point where he had had enough and basically just bequeathed all that was left to me and my interest.  If I wanted it, it was mine.

Since I inherited the office itself for a time following his departure, and since I was pretty much done with the packing myself, a lot of it was just left there on the shelves where he had placed it all at some point over the 30+ years he worked at the uni.

When it was my turn to vacate the office, the unexamined things- plus those items that he had personally given to me- made their way to the study at home.  To be boxed up when the last move took place

I found a rather peculiar and interesting file folder in with all the articles about biblical exegesis and slides and maps of the Ancient Near East.  It has nothing to do with Religious Studies, and there doesn’t seem to be a familial connection given the cursory read I’ve made of the materials thus far, so I’m only assuming it came from him because of proximity to his other stuff.

When I have some time to relax I will have to do a little research on the contents and let you know what I’ve found.  It’s a mystery though.  And I love mysteries…

NO distractions!


Moving can be both a trip down memory lane (past the bad blocks and the good) and a period of catharsis as new things are set in motion.

It can also be a supreme pain in the ass.

Suffice it to say, in the next little while I won’t be contributing as many posts as has become my norm in the past few months.  Although writing is generally calming, so its therapy mightn’t be a bad thing when the chaos threatens to overwhelm.  Hard to say.  Will be here when I can regardless.

Packing it in has come to be used colloquially to mean ‘calling it a day’, finishing things up, stopping work on something.  In World War I it became military slang for being killed.  The idiom can be used imperatively as a command for someone to just quit it! and have done!

As much as I’d like to pack in the packing, that isn’t possible.  Once I get something started I tend to be a bit obsessive about finishing- especially if there’s a time constraint of any kind.  And, in this case, there is.  I’ll keep to it and pack up or discard the items and the memories- whichever the specific item/memory and common sense dictates- that the process brings back into light.

Why do I have so many books?  Seriously.  WHY?  Does one person really NEED eight copies of the bible?  And those are BIG books.  HEAVY books.  Granted, only three are in English, but COME ON!  It’s not like that stuff is my life’s work anymore.  Stay or go?  Toss or keep?  Stay, but store.  (This has been an example of the common internal/sometimes external conversations that will be the norm in my house for the next few weeks.  The cats- and likely my neighbours- think I’ve lost it.  This aside was brought to you by my brain).

I’ll ignore the feelings of overwhelming chaos that living surrounded by boxes instills in the deepest part of my core, and just get it all sorted and ready for transport and new beginnings.

I’ll allow the packing to displace the other crap that’s going around me, for a time, since it’s stuff I have no control over (in the main) anyway.  My focus, which has been divided in many directions of late, will be concentrated on the immediate task at hand.

But right now I have to go buy more packing tape.


This might be a little obvious and sentimental (and overplayed and commercial), but it remains a good song and it is about moving and such.  And Green Day’s energy is a good inducement to productivity.

Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go
So make the best of this test, and don’t ask why
It’s not a question, but a lesson learned in time

It’s something unpredictable, but in the end is right,
I hope you had the time of your life.

So take the photographs, and still frames in your mind
Hang it on a shelf in good health and good time
Tattoos of memories and dead skin on trial
For what it’s worth it was worth all the while

Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

13 comments on “Packing it in

  1. bethbyrnes says:

    Oh, how I sympathize! I have done this a number of times and your description is perfect. Good luck with this and I will look forward to reading updates.

    • colemining says:

      Thanks Beth. Will write whenever I can (or need to, as a sanity-saver). Chaos and me? Don’t go well together. At all. But the end will be worth the (generally less than fun) journey.
      Thanks for reading!

  2. yakinamac says:

    Good luck with the move.

    No matter how disorganised you feel you are, mark my words – you have nothing on my brother-in-law and his wife… I went to help them pack up the last time they moved house and when I asked for a box to start packing the kitchen things, the female half of the couple went and emptied out a box that had already been filled! And she was the more effective of the two of them! I’m frankly astonished that their move was ever completed.

    • colemining says:

      Thanks yakinamac. That level of unpreparedness is my worst nightmare! I have a friend who approaches moves in that way- nothing in a box until well after the truck arrives. Can’t even imagine.
      It will get done. It’s just about keeping the demons of disorder at bay until it all comes together… THAT will take some doing!
      Thanks for reading!

  3. Ste J says:

    Haven’t heard that Green Day song for years! Good memories, you almost managed to make moving house seem a tad romantic with all the long forgotten memories that surface and those tapes that still inexplicably work…a mix tape was always better than a mix CD as welll, there was n art to that. Foreign language bibles, now there’s a thought for the Christmas list.

    • colemining says:

      Ste J- it’s really more dusty and full of heavy lifting than it is romantic, but glad I managed to make it sound less like the drudgery it really is. The bibles? Two Greek, one Hebrew (OT), one Latin and one Coptic. All way too heavy. And all going into storage.
      Thanks for reading!

      • Ste J says:

        I’d take them off your hands but I am moving lots of stuff at the moment and doubt I could prize them away from you at any rate!

      • colemining says:

        Yeah. Have to keep them. I might need them again (unlikely- but never saying never). This is my issue with most of my books. Trying to cull the herd somewhat, but it’s like giving away friends. I have to have really disliked a book to give it the boot.

      • Ste J says:

        Being critical to one’s own collection is never easy…I have become quite brutal of late though…I may shave my head in homage to my new found monstrosity to books.

      • colemining says:

        I do have to say that at least I’ve been pretty disciplined in not buying anything (much) new over the past while. So the friends getting packed are all old friends- and even harder to part with in some ways.

      • Ste J says:

        Ooof, a challenge to not buy but a noble effort. Old friends are always better…there are always libraries for the new books at least.

      • colemining says:

        I am being masterful in my restraint. For now, anyway.

  4. […] and chaos-induced anxiety is starting to build as the number of boxes increases.  I’ve made good headway- well over halfway done with a couple of weeks to go- but today I hit the […]

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