Sorting through the clutter to make things fit

Oct 26 2011 - 5:39pm


The long-awaited household goods truck comes first thing tomorrow morning and I'm feeling very first-datish, a little apprehensive but mostly obnoxiously giddy.

We have been living here in Germany for two months, camping out with our original 12 bags of clothing. Don't think that number hasn't increased; I now have to detangle us from our temporary house one grocery bag of accumulated goods at a time. Unfortunately there is no place to put said items until all the other items are delivered.

So here I sit on this pre-delivery eve, clipping my toenails and thinking that I should probably shave my legs tonight since it might be a while before I can get back to personal hygiene.

Thing is, these movers have a one-touch policy. We get one shot to boss them around, but the moment our poundage hits tile: It. Is. Over.

Forget asking them to reposition something. It lives where it lands unless we want to haul it around ourselves (we don't). I am therefore frantically trying to remember what we have -- it's been four months -- so I can make myself a working map of where it should go.

One thing about our fabulous German house (we got brave and purchased one) is the fact that it comes with loads and loads of junky European treasure. The previous owners are old and moving in with their daughter. Their method of downsizing is simple: leave everything in the house for the new family to sort through.

It's a good thing the gypsies come through every few months to take stuff. There's no way we could haul all of that to the local thrift store. (Seriously, they actually drive slowly through the town ringing a bell.) And for the record, German junk looks an awful lot like American junk.

Truly, the past two months have been tough on the body. If anyone ever had sympathy for prison inmates, it is me. I hear one of the worst publicly mentionable things about prison is the total discomfort. The beds are a single mattress and there's not a decent chair or couch to be found.

That is exactly what military "stick furniture" is like. Plastic foam couches and miserable springy mattresses.

I was at a girlfriend's house this past week and actually sat down on a real couch for the first time in Europe. I almost went comatose from the sheer comfort alone.

This move has not been without its casualties. With all the changes and transfers and Guten tags, my Junie (3) is now peeing her pants again. I have probably handled it terribly and I'm suspicious she'll end up in therapy because of my overall misreaction (this might or might not have included yelling, stomping and a week of early bedtime). We don't rightly know what to do.

Part of me doesn't blame her; our life has been less than comfortable and more than a little sporadic these past four months. She's trying to mesh into German preschool and we're in the middle of another move...heck, maybe I should take a page from her book. Next time I'm stressed I should try peeing my pants. It might be very liberating.

I guess if all else fails, I could always threaten her with the Gypsies. Somehow I think that method might do more damage than a gentle caning. I guess we'll go back to marshmallows. They're probably safer on her overall psyche.

Either way, she'll be peeing her pants at our home this time tomorrow. Now, that is something to finally feel good about.

Annie Valentine is a wife, mother and columnist. Readers can contact her at or visit her blog at

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