The Messy Bits

So we’ve hit the stage that you never see in movie montages. The step between “challenge accepted” and “look at us, making it happen!”

If you don’t know what I mean, I’m talking about the moment where you have so much to do, and so little time, that you catch yourself literally wandering the house in circles accomplishing nothing, because you can’t figure out the place to start, let alone a sequence of actions that could get you to the finish.

During this phase of the what-a-great-adventure! process, you might find yourself in a sweltering attic, for instance, for the first time in your life sincerely envying “digital natives” for their lack of paper books, photo albums, cds, DVDS and — heaven help you — VHS tapes (we have a boxed set of vintage X-Files tapes if anyone needs them. No? Well, then…carry on).

You might also find yourself overwhelmed with terrifyingly official paperwork, trying to remember what year you had the new roof put on the house and shocked that such a big expense has become a blank spot in your memory. You could also wind up wondering where the heck you put the (damn) documentation, because you’re generally a pretty good organizer and you’re in the stupid file cabinet every five seconds lately anyway.

This is the period when your phone will ring all the time, with people asking questions you’ll find hard to answer. And they’ll be about almost anything — what are the school taxes on your house? Where were you working six years ago, and at what salary? Do you have a survey of your property? (Then you’ll wonder if everyone but you has a property survey tucked away in their files, and why no one told you about it if so.)

It’s a strange and slightly sad time, when possessions mutate from tangible memories imbued with meaning to dusty objects that just have to be dealt with. When your home becomes “an asset,” and your decor has to be de-personalized so it’s less…well, frankly, weird.

You’ll keep hacking away at the to-do list, grateful to every professional you work with who puts up with your frazzled and anxious ignorance about basically everything you’re trying to do. You will hope with each item checked off your list that this will be the moment the work becomes manageable. Mostly, you’ll be wrong about that.

You might even write an essay about how overwhelmed you are, fully aware that essay-writing will not make you any less overwhelmed. But it’s possible that you won’t be able to help yourself.

You’ll sigh a big sigh when you’ve finished. Then you’ll step away from the computer for another what-to-I-do-now lap around the house.

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