“Zombiepaper” sat on his couch where he began Better Zombie, reclined casually, and sipped some coffee while gathering the motivation to address the remaining items he needed to pack. There wasn’t much and there was plenty. For the past hour, he did some light rearranging but spent the time either lightly napping or looking at his smartphone for situational distraction. “Maybe if I write about the space, I’ll get motivated,” he thought, before beginning surveying.
He hadn’t made the bed yet.
Mint-on-card action figures lined the walls. The Spider-Man ones will go into boxes sooner than the X-Men ones. He sat on the bed and looked at the closet, a small room within a room. Clean socks to the left, a donation pile of clothes in the back, and laundry boxes to the right. Two plastic racks half-full of boxed books lined the wall opposite the bed, and on the way out, a dresser and another type of wood furniture stood on either side of the doorway.
The living room was deceptively full.
He sat back down on the couch. He sipped more coffee but figured all the motivation in the world wouldn’t help if his cold returned after clearing up just before the snowstorm, and returned from that aside. To his left was his new computer station: a stuffed wingback chair in light blue, a thin side table now holding a laptop, mouse, pen, and paper. No further decorations required. The table stood on plastic trays that slid along the plastic hardwood.
A portable rowing machine stood before him.
He bought it as a $10lark, but really, he never gave it an earnest try until the day before. One 10-minute set later and it would gain newfound respect. Around it were an open box of books next in the reading queue, a green desk lamp, empty milk cartons, targets shot upon with small- and mid-caliber handguns, a dead UPS, and a 27″ TV that will probably be donated next week. The TV still worked fine, but, as he stumbled through his thoughts, he returned to the notion that there wasn’t a need for it.
He was still working on that donation conviction.
He blew his nose and sat hunched over his smartphone. Everything else in the living room needed to be either donated or moved into the spare bedroom, the titular “Zeal” when it was a home office candidate, to be boxed up somehow. The sun reflected off the snow outside so bright that he realized he wasn’t tired, he was on the cusp of getting a migraine, so he went to switch into his sunglasses.
An older pair were psychedelically polarized.
His newer pair cut down the glare and weren’t distracting with myriad colors bouncing off the screen. He sat down in the stuffed white rocking chair in his dining room and tried to get comfortable. This chair might go to the thrift store if it can’t prove s solid use. Maybe it just needs the space to stretch out some more? He wasn’t planning on keeping the massive 3-seat couch that might as well fold out into a king-sized bed, or replacing it with another couch, so maybe this tattered pleather chair will do?
A fully-developed headache later…
He started up the rice cooker, put on Napalm Death, and continued writing. The living room area appeared mostly the same as it did months ago. Only minor changes to long-term guests could notice certain changes indicative of a move. The biggest change is that his DVD rack, used to house his CD collection, is nearly empty. About 40 CDs remain. The racks didn’t remain empty. They filled up, lightly, with some office supplies. It was spread out for easy assessment.
He walked into the spare bedroom, “Zeal.”
The room was cast in red light from the red sheets hung over the window. He sat in his stuffed wingback chair in patterned red and looked at the room. To his left, close to the window, was once where his lightbox sat atop a dresser that housed his LEGO collection. That dresser was used for many years to store his childhood dog’s pet supplies, so as “Patrick’s dresser,” he had already decided against donating it if at all possible. Next to it was a small rack he grabbed on the way home from work a few months prior. It had a mess of boxes and was thoroughly underutilized.
The sorting table took up a majority of the room.
It was his dining room table for years. In name alone. In actuality, it stored random clutter and could only rarely be used for dining upon. He had some packing tools on it, but overall, it was a mess of several different tasks to do. That was the reason for all this clutter: half-finished projects. Including stuff that needed to be put into packing boxes, stuff that needed to be sorted through, and stuff that needed to be put away. De-extrapolating that mess of half-finished work has been like unknotting a rope which has been the key to decluttering.
The rice cooker started steaming.
To his right were two open boxes, half-full of toys and assorted miscellanea to keep. One for boxed stuff and the other for loose stuff. To the right of those boxes was perhaps the final box of paperwork to keep. He wanted to move all three boxes to a spot currently occupied by open, empty boxes, so he could reach the bookshelves that lined the wall behind him.
Too much water in the rice cooker.
He brought out some boxes while continuing the cooker. Looking over the rest of the boxes, he decided that arranging this spot would be easy and straightforward. He moved the clutter of open boxes out into the living room next to the “donation station” of books, set up two folding tables, moved the two boxes for miscellanea on top, and trimmed the edges of a cardboard drawing he had made of the yin-yang symbol to fit in the bottom of the boxed miscellanea box.
The water boiled off and the quinoa was done.
He cooked some chili on a skillet, percolated some water through once-brewed coffee, checked Discord, switched out Napalm Death for Paradise Lost, and ate lunch while looking out the window and pondering at length. This was the last time he’d be snowed in here. He took some photos outside, ate, and realized he was becoming anxious over the subconscious desire to do everything simultaneously.
He returned to the couch to gather his thoughts:
He completed one objective on his move task list: moving the boxes. He still hadn’t written about the remainder of Zeal’s layout. Both the bookshelf wall and the opposite wall had many objects left to condense which, if it needed to go right then and there, could. He just reasoned that if he could spend the time to move half as many boxes, why not? He heard no news contradicting that garbage and recycling would not be picked up tomorrow, so he added that to the list.
His lingering headache took center stage.
He paused Paradise Lost before he went to sleep for about one hour. The headache recessed back. He returned to his objectives list: garbage and recycling. OK. He leaned over, head first, to unpause the humble blue and gray CD boombox, and found that his back was stiff; the possible culprit of the headache, along with the temperature change. He put his bagged Masters of the Universe Classics Moss-Man back into the card, back into the mailer box, into the box of miscellaneous boxes, and had just started using his can opener to turn coffee cans into cylinders that he could tape together to hold rolls of posters or more likely compact down…
Until he heard a scratching at the window.
He looked out the kitchen window to see a light dusting of snow. His recycling bin lid had no snow since he had dumped some recycling last night and the day was somewhat warm, so that would be the test area for him to see how much new snow there would be tonight. The trash and recycling company leave voicemails if they reschedule, so he continued, assuming that tomorrow would still be garbage day.
He was still a bit sluggish.
Even still, he took the first shelf of things to sort through: paperwork, buttons, and other collectibles, like trading cards. The trick, he figured out, to undoing tangles like this is to start slow: Find an area where you can store similar items together, like loose trading cards, then collect all of the trading cards into one area. Loose cards went into a binder. Collected packs of cards went elsewhere.
Music: Paradise Lost, Nitzer Ebb, then Muddy Waters.
He collected all the random cards together in a box and threw out a bunch of old notes. He kept the highlights. He collected all the random buttons together in circular Monster Rancher containers to store with all the assorted Keyboard Kommander and Seattle Indies stuff he collected over the years. He uncovered an Icarus Kid CD, put it on after Muddy Waters, listened to it as he sorted through the remainder of the shelves, and then became too tired to proceed.
He considered that a good stopping point.
However, let’s shift gears: that was an interesting exercise in writing observational nonfiction in the guise of fiction. It did end up becoming a list of actions performed, so the execution probably could have been better, but sometimes it’s good to unlock certain thought patterns through certain other thought exercises. This went on like this because this is an accurate glimpse into some of the remaining work to do yet to pack and move out of this rental place. Seven years of clutter will do this.
I didn’t take down those Spider-Man toys…
|Sources: My personal experiences.|
|Inspirations: Trying something different with one of these essays. I hadn’t written any fiction in a while and was in the midst of feeling sick along with being snowed-in, so maybe this was delirium, but it was kinda fun to write.|
|Related: Other Moving Zeal essays.|
|Picture: A drawing from memory. In my mind, I had a yellow background with black, like a sketch on a post-it note.|
|Written On: February 10th [1+ hour]|
|Last Edited: March 20th [5-minute]|