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Started: 2004-12-19 21:37:03

Submitted: 2004-12-19 22:35:34

Visibility: World-readable

More than three months after Kiesa and I started our epic house-hunting adventure, our stuff is moved into our new house. I set Ziyal up on a card table in the living room to access our packing lists and so I can type this changelog offline. It's not yet apparent when anyone else will read this, given the previously-documented problems getting an Internet connection, but I'm sure I'll come up with something.

Kiesa and I spent most of Saturday packing and labeling boxes, stuffing everything left in our apartment into an ever-expanding collection of boxes. By the time the dust settled late Saturday night, we had ninety-one boxes packed.

Late in the afternoon, I headed to our new house and cleaned the master bedroom and master bath, removing drop cloths, unmasking the molding, and vacuuming the floor. I hung signs telling my army of movers which rooms were which, hung hand towels and toilet paper in the bathrooms, and made sure everything else was in order for the move.

Kiesa showed up at 1730 and unmasked the dining room, which we didn't get the chance to paint. Gem's mother apparently wants to help us do something more than just unpacking (although now that the prospect of packing looms large in front of me I don't think it's insignificant), so she's going to get to paint our dining room, which apparently she thinks is a great idea. I'm not about to complain.

When the house was in order, Kiesa and I headed to the U-Haul where we had reservations to pick up the truck. (It was a franchise U-Haul location and also happened to be an auto pawn shop, which fascinated and disturbed me.) As soon as we walked in the door the assembled people realized who we were, apologized profusely, and informed us that the truck we were supposed to get had broken down and U-Haul corporate was supposed to have called us to tell us to go somewhere else to get the truck. We had received no such phone call. They made some calls and tried to find another truck that we could use but failed. The best they could do was call us in the morning if one of the ten- or fourteen-foot trucks that were supposed to be returned in the morning did in fact arrive. We were dubious about the idea of moving our packed two-bedroom apartment using a fourteen-foot truck but we decided to take the truck if that was the best they could do. We drove back to our apartment trying to figure out what we could do if we got a smaller truck or didn't get a truck at all. No good options presented themselves.

(The franchise U-Haul people told us that it was a popular season for trucks and they had had a number of customers that day get angry about the lack of trucks. (I might have gotten angry had I believed it would have gotten me anything.) The middle of December seems like a bizarre time for a run on rental moving trucks, but my best guess is that it's a combination of three factors: the end of the semester, so a non-trivial number of college students are moving back home (or wherever); it's the Christmas season, so package-carrying companies rent trucks and vans to fulfill seasonal demand; and the onset of snow increases the chances that a truck will get stuck by weather, reducing supply. None of these made it any easier for us to get a truck.)

We continued packing boxes as we tried not to become distressed by the lack of good options. I took down half of the cubicles in the study, printed out the last six box labels, and went to bed around 2330.

Moving day dawned bright and clear, which was excellent for carrying furniture and boxes outside into and out of a moving truck. I didn't sleep well, probably from the stress of not knowing whether the planned move was going to happen or not, so I actually got up before the alarm was supposed to wake me at 0800. I shut down Ziyal and Ivanova and took down the remaining cubicles. At 0905, five minutes after the corporate-owned U-Haul in north Boulder opened, Kiesa called them and asked if there were any chance they happened to have an extra truck we could have. They did, as if it were perfectly natural for customers with reservations at other U-Haul locations to call them early Sunday morning in search of trucks for that day. Kiesa and I did a little happy dance and headed to north Boulder to pick the truck up.

We picked up the truck, a twenty-six foot monstrosity, which Kiesa let me drive since she is dubious about her ability to successfully pilot such a vehicle. When I hopped in the driver's seat I realized that it was a five-speed manual-transmission vehicle, which fascinated me. The U-Haul people had asked us if we were sure we wanted such a large vehicle, which we said was great given the amount of stuff we had to move (we had originally reserved a twenty-four foot truck), but gave no other indication as to the vehicle's transmission. The meaning of the signs posted behind the desk in the U-Haul office suddenly became clear: the ten-, fourteen-, and seventeen-foot vehicles were all labeled "handles like a van" (text the twenty-four- and twenty-six-foot vehicles did not have) because they were in fact Ford vans with a cargo enclosure instead of a passenger compartment. The twenty-six foot vehicle was a real live diesel-fueled truck. The steering wheel was eighteen inches in diameter, mounted almost horizontally from the dashboard. The clutch had nine inches of travel from fully engaged to fully disengaged. The gear shift, sticking up a meter from its mount in the floor of the cab, moved six inches from each gear to neutral, and gave a visceral crunch when each gear was engaged.

I situated myself in the cab and prepared to drive the vehicle off the lot. (The back of my mind suggested that U-Haul should have a closed course behind their building where renters like myself could take vehicles for a spin and get a feel for the vehicle's handling before taking it onto the open road.) I put the truck into gear and tried to move, only to roll backwards. I tried again, thinking perhaps I hadn't given enough gas (I was on a slight up-sloping incline), and jerked back harder. I took another look at the pattern printed on the shift knob and realized that the top-left position, corresponding to first gear on every manual transmission vehicle I've ever driven, was in fact reverse. First gear was were I expected second to be, and fifth gear was were I expected reverse to be. With that knowledge now planted in my brain, I put the truck into first gear (which still felt like second gear) and managed to get the truck rolling in the direction I intended.

Driving the truck to Louisville was an interesting experience. I had to get a feel for the truck's handling, mirrors, shifting, ventilation system, and everything else in the space of several seconds, as soon as I merged onto North Broadway. It was without contest the largest vehicle I've ever driven in my life. By the time I made it to the Temple of Castor and Pollux, I had a pretty good idea what I was doing, and with Kiesa's help, I even managed to back the vehicle into the two empty spaces right in front of the apartment's main door. At least something was going my way. I checked the nearest chronometer. It was 1049: T minus eleven minutes.

I grabbed my first caffeine of the day and headed to the truck to try to get some vague idea how I wanted to fit everything into it. My (former?) office-mate Ed was the first to show up. As I orated the Saga of the Truck to him, Zan Lynx drove up, followed by Cliff and Tasha. Mike and Jenean showed up a minute later and we headed upstairs to start surveying the stuff. Packing the truck went fairly smoothly; when I started running out of brilliant ideas on what to pack next, Cliff jumped in and figured out where to pack everything for maximum use of space without actually letting anything get damaged in the process. Eric showed up half an hour into the process (in jeans with knee holes larger than any I've ever seen before) and added his muscle and engineering expertise to the effort. We packed the truck in an hour and a half, completely filling it with almost everything from our apartment. Had the need been present, we could have used a slightly smaller truck, but there wasn't very much empty space in the truck.

I handed out maps to our new house and we departed. I discovered that the truck's transmission wouldn't mesh automatically when down-shifting, which I never quite managed to get the hang of. With Ed's expert hand-waving help, I managed to back the truck into my driveway for unloading. The unloading process was easier; we didn't have to figure out how to pack anything into the truck, and half of the furniture and boxes were destined for the main floor, which meant they didn't have to traverse any stairs. Kiesa had to rearrange some of the furniture when it became apparent that the large room divider wasn't going to fit into the guest bedroom (up the stairs and around two sharp turns), but otherwise it went well.

When the moving-in was complete, Kiesa picked up pizza and we gathered in my box-filled dining room for a post-move reward for my loyal army. After eating, my army trickled away until Kiesa and I were left alone in our new house, surrounded by labeled boxes waiting to be unpacked.

Being exhausted isn't a good way to start the work week (even one as truncated as this one), but at least I have a distinct sense of accomplishment: I'm now living in a house. But as I glance around me at the piles of boxes stacked halfway to the ceiling, I know just how much work I have yet to do.