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So Long and Thanks for all the Tacos

As the old saying goes, “Tacos – you can’t take them with you.”


a few months of my craigslist sales

Aside from the two pallets of clothes and toys we shipped a month ago, I didn’t start packing for our transatlantic relocation until about 10pm the night before. Physically packing I mean. A writer friend of mine reminds me that writing is not the typing, it’s the thinking and processing mentally before you arrive at the page.

So I’d let some things go in advance. So much stuff. Such terrible waste. I haven’t read all of the Minimalists blog yet, so I’m just going to guess that they say less is more or something like that. I judge a book by the cover, a blog my the tag line. It’s a habit. My craigslist-fu was strong, and I’d been on a roll.

How to Craigslist like a ninja:

1. Avoid the craigslist crazies using a door policy

I’d avoided many of the crazies using a porch or door policy. Unless it’s more than $100 you don’t get in my house. Or to meet me. And you only get a google phone number I use just for crazies. Once we’ve established a rapport and set a meet time, I give you my address. Then I tell you that I can’t be there and will leave the item on the porch, and ask you to leave the money under the mat. It works.

2. Avoid haggling

Except maybe for cars, I just put a price that was fair. That people didn’t feel the need to argue about. I’m a professional negotiator, but I’m also lazy and the amount of effort it would take to follow through with a  bluff (“no, that’s not enough I’m afraid, have a nice day, I’ll find someone else to buy it”) was not worth it for me. I just wanted things gone.

3. Have a line of people for high value items

I’d like to claim that I planned this one, but I didn’t. I sold two cars in an hour by inadvertently scheduling four people to show up at my house at once to buy various things. Actually, it was only three people. One of them was delivering the margarita machine for our leaving party, but the car buyers didn’t know that. It made negotiations simple. “If you don’t buy it, I’m going to talk to the next person who is waiting there.” As far as they knew, everyone was there to buy the car they were interested in. I told three people to wait in the kitchen, and showed one person the car.

Craigslist – it’s like ex-lax for your home – sell your mucoid plaque

More of “how not to pack when relocating your family” will follow. I managed to give a great deal of things away to friends and to Goodwill to make the actual physical packing part quicker. Even then, I had stuff to get rid of. And I don’t feel bad for burdening my hoarder friends with stuff. Mainly because I’m selfish and the occasional, “I really need one of these – I just bought one yesterday so I can return that to the shop,” assuages any guilt.

If you look around you right now, don’t you have more stuff than you’ll need?

I mean even booze. I pared down and poured down to get down to a single bottle of vodka and some lemon drop mix. And I use booze as a cure for anything:

  • Staying awake
  • Finding people interesting
  • Not having to feel anything
  • Resolving anger issues (still not working but I haven’t given up)
  • Going to sleep
  • Freeing my conscious mind from worry so that my unconscious can suggest some solutions
  • Social awkwardness

The list goes on, it really does. But despite that miracle snake oil remedy of pouring booze down my throat at every possible juncture, I even ended up with half a bottle of Smirnoff that I couldn’t drink. And as they say, you can’t take it with you. The Pharaohs tried – they got it all buried with them, and some upper crust Victorian toff with a pith helmet (or a girl with short shorts and a tight top and ponytail depending on your research) broke into their tomb and had away with it.

Do I feel better with less stuff? Yes I do right now, partially as I don’t have to lug it around with me, and as I’m staying in an AirBnB apartment which comes with its own stuff, and I haven’t had to change any timing belts or scan any documents in the last 36 hours.

I hope that I can have the discipline to use my resources for something else than the acquisition of stuff in the next place we live.

Oh yes, and we’re in Iceland with no night time to speak of having just left our family home, so there’s all sorts of loss, lag and confusion going on. So I’m focused on the lack of stuff right now.


The Nutty Circle of Life

squirrelMy face had never knowingly been that close to a squirrel’s erect penis before, and the prospect of it spreading the contents of the nearby unburied nuts brought me out of the situation quite abruptly.

I had fully intended to reverse my car back over the squirrel’s head to put it out of any potential misery that I might have unwittingly subjected it to when it ran under my previously forward rolling wheels. But in the nine seconds it took me to get back to its body at the side of the road, I saw its back leg squirreling in the air. I don’t have a better word for it. The little frantic movements that a squirrel’s leg makes when it is furtively hiding nuts.

I had massive doubt. Would my tiny car actually kill it, or just wound it some more was the first one. I flashbacked to Jim’s story of trying, while tripping on shrooms to kill a sick puppy by stamping on its head with little success. Heads are pretty thick. I remember dropping a pig’s head from the top of our college onto the concrete below and being amazed that it seemed to stand up to the impact unphased.

The next thought I had was, is the squirrel actually just wounded and could it be saved? I squatted near the little orange fuzzball, and prodded it with a stick I found. After all I didn’t want to contract squirrel AIDS or for the little nutter to attack me. It’s eyes were open, and its leg was pawing at the air. It looked okay physically, oh wait, what was that lump by its tail? Were its guts spilling out, was it suffering from a hernia? Damn. Not at all. It wasn’t ruptured. They were his giant balls.

I’ve never attended squirrel physiology 101, and I don’t know what might be wrong. I poked each leg with my branch, and they all seemed quite leggy. Mr Nutkins didn’t seem too perturbed, his shallow breathing and legs up in the air the only sign that all was not right in his semi-arborial world.

Maybe squirrels always breathed like this. How should I know? OK. impact crisis. Probably in shock. What do you do to people in shock? Flashback to that guy having a stroke at the Stratford Premiere Inn breakfast buffet, and trying to keep my son blissfully unaware of the impending death while explaining why we couldn’t get any bacon or orange juice right now. That was it! Sweet drinks. Maybe tea with sugar. Good for shock. Right, what do squirrels drink, and do I have any? No.

Nurse, we’re losing him. I was at a loss. Charge the defibrillator. Nutkins was SOL – I didn’t have one. His eyes started to half close and then his dick shot out – a bright red flourish of triumph. His midget glory receded. Is this how we die? The junk returned – was this his last rigid rigor before endless mortis, this tiny death about to happen right before and possibly in my eyes if I didn’t step back?

His boner subsided, and he was still breathing. Right. Mammals. They like dark places and to be close to other mammals in times of stress. I nudged him into the grassy verge with the branch. I talk to him softly. I kind of want to place a hand on him, but that seems a bit interspecies gay. I don’t know what to do. He might be fine. He might be in excruciating agony. Poor little bloke. I talk calmly to him as I saw a friend do to a dog before he was euthanized. That’s it. I should kill him.

I go back to my car, which has been emptied for the trip to the track. No obvious tire irons or shovels to finish off Nutkins. My mind settles on the only two tools I have. A pair of pliers and a boxcutter**. I collect them and return to the scene of the mercy slaying. I’ve never slit an animal’s throat before. And Nutkins does have teeth. If I can just get the pliers in his chest, I can avoid the squirrel AIDS, the end of Fatal Attraction attack from just before the grave. Instead of jizz, I now ponder a geyser of blood in my face, and showing up to the track looking like I’ve vampired a virgin.

Hang on. Is slitting this guy’s throat even humane? Can you be humane for squirrels? Give me a sign that you’ve got some chutzpah left you little fudding rodent. Sheeyit you’re a rodent. Does that mean you’re not even a mammal? And here I am talking to you because I mis-badged you a mammal*. I don’t know what to do. Am I not slicing your throat because I’m scared to do it? Or because I’m scared to make the wrong decision.

I pull out my phone. Thank you little baby Jesus. It’s 8:54, which means I have to leave for the track to get there by 9. Which means I’m going to leave you to fate. In the verge at the side of the road. With the branch to mark your spot so I can come back and check later.

I’m not cut out to be a killer, and I’m not much good at caring for dying things. As I arrive at the track, I find the owner and tell him of the squirrel peril. He’s a grown up. He’ll know what to do.

* for the record, squirrels are both mammals and rodents and the correct thing to do when injuring them with you Miata is to make them a cup of milky tea with honey and ginseng.

** boxcutter = Stanley knife


Mjolnir Is Not On Your Minivan

Say you’d just bought a new old minivan. You already had a minivan in your family, but you decided to add a second. Why would you do such a thing, and what’s with the hammer?

I owned a Toyota Prius for about two years. It was one of the newest cars I’ve ever owned, and it seduced me with features. Not having to use a key saves your valuable hand space for carrying bananas, drinks and newspapers as you lever open the door with a foot. Not having to physically put a key into the car to make it go means you can hook a transponder to your belt loop and dramatically reduce the chance that you’ll lose access to your car without also losing access to your trousers.

The rear view camera made life with limited rotational spine mobility a breeze, but the pure vanilla blandness of the car sapped away the will to live. The economic tiny powertrain made for safe and predictably dull driving. The only fun you could have was working the suspension around the one roundabout in a 4 mile radius. Life in a Prius is comfortable gradual death. But without the sensation of excitement that imminent death affords. A slow regenerative brake into a full stop at the end of a dawdling life.

So I sold that and bought a minivan. V6 power. Gold colouring. The admission of defeat. A different kind of practicality to a Prius. A different kind of death. One that can take seven people with it. At least you can haul stuff in an Odyssey, and when you’re about to leave the country, hauling stuff might be useful.

And if you’re going to drive a gold minivan, I figure you need a giant Nordic decal on the front. And not just so that you don’t stumble in a parental stupor into the wrong one. So that people know who’s coming.