Don’t try this at home: two cautionary tales

All the World’s a Stage

In preparation to put my house on the market in the next month, I have started, at mother’s insistence, the process of “staging” my house for resale. I have been reading articles on HGTV’s website and looking at pictures of houses for sale on a real estate listing website, and here is the conclusion I’ve reached: staging is just a fancy word for deep-cleaning and decluttering your house, both inside and out, and it can lead to severe neurosis and cause one to feel like it would be better to just run over this house with a bulldozer and start from scratch.

When I was a little kid making structures out of Lincoln Logs or molding clay or sand at the beach, I wouldn’t have a particular house plan in my head; I would just start building and see what happened. If the castle or cottage didn’t meet with my approval I would just tear it down. Sandcastles that went awry could not be patched–they had to be perfect! If I ran out of clay or logs before my dream house was finished, downsizing was not an option! Seven- and nine- and twelve-year-old me did not care for visible disorder, but it never occurred to me to plan ahead so as to avoid the frustrating process of scrapping my work and doing it all over (cue ominious music).

So imagine 33-year-old me, with that same habit of just starting somewhere with no game plan in mind–oh sure, I SAID I was starting with the hall closets, but then I found myself disassembling my desk and moving the sofa. Imagine me staring at what used to be a full but neatly appointed room, which had become, in less than an hour of frenzied activity, a crookedly placed sofa, a pile of desk pieces, a big shopping bag of the CDs that were once organized on a shelf unit that now contained my loaner laptop, my broken laptop in a box that still hadn’t been mailed to the manufacturer for repair, and everything else that was once hidden somewhere in the desk. Maybe it is that old habit of just throwing it all out and starting over, but by the end of the night I had decided that the desk was going into storage (this after I ALMOST broke down and put it back together!), along with the shelf storage thing where the CDs used to be, the CDs themselves, and my huge stereo system (which was concealed in the desk’s CPU cabinet but now, with no desk, has no place to go). In the empty space where the desk once was I put my Ikea POANG chair and footrest and Mia’s rocking chair, and for music I’m going to move the groovy surround sound wall unit from my bedroom, where I hardly ever turn it on, into the living room. Finally, to avoid putting my laptop (which I did finally send off) and printer on the kitchen table, I’m going to go scavenging in antique stores for a small square table, which will fit perfectly into one corner of my living room. I think this is what staging is all about. This may also be what therapy is all about.

Feels Just Like I’m Walking on Broken Glass

Ever the teacher, I felt it might be a good idea to share some of my experiential wisdom from yesterday’s staging fiasco with all of you. Should you decide not to drink from the font of my knowledge, just like most of my students, and should you find yourself curled up in the fetal position in the abysmal wreck that used to be your home, make sure there’s a glass of wine in your hand. It helps. A lot.

  1. The only substitute for an allen wrench is another allen wrench. If you don’t have an allen wrench, or you have seven allen wrenches but they are all exactly the same size, which is not the size you need, a screwdriver will not work. Neither will a knife or the end of a key. Or a hammer. Saying a string of expletives, on the other hand, does ease the frustration a little, but if you have a small child make sure you say them all together really fast so he/she can’t imitate you. Example: “Damnshitfuckinassholesonofabitch little screw!”
  2. Sometimes the only way to find out if something will look right on the other side of the room is to move it to the other side of the room. Sometimes more than once. And chances are if it wasn’t there in the first place there was a good reason, so you should just leave it the hell where it was in the first place.
  3. If you are moving a 7-foot tall lamp with a glass globe attachment on top, TURN OFF THE CEILING FAN unless you want to spend the rest of the night listening to your daughter wail “DOWN PEEEEASE! DOWN PEEEEASE!” from her high chair, now the only glass-free place in the house, while you pick up glass and vacuum every surface in the great room with tears of hysteria and exhaustion streaming down your face.
  4. Next time, MAKE. A. FREAKING. LIST. And stick to it. No more of this, “Oh, I wonder how that bed would look if I turned the headboard upside down and hung it on the wall?” or “Would you look at that! A bread machine cookbook! I didn’t know I had that. I wonder where the bread machine is. I should make bread!”

Any questions?


3 thoughts on “Don’t try this at home: two cautionary tales

  1. omg. tears of laughter…
    “Would you look at that! A bread machine cookbook! I didn’t know I had that. I wonder where the bread machine is. I should make bread!”

    THIS is how i pack, to go anywhere. it is all very ADHD/OCD. ugly. i have a project myself this summer. i may need to take your advice and Make. A. List. First.

    will let you know how it goes… if it works, i will send you $ ;P

  2. This made me laugh that REALLY loud and obnoxious laugh I normally save for church. BaaaaaaaaHA! I could see the whole thing playing out in my head. Thank you. I’m back, by the way, and ready to be decent. You just THOUGHT you understood the extent of my crazy, huh? Goes WAAAYYYY deeper….. thanks for hanging in.

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