This evening, right after dinner, Melissa and I roamed around the east side of town trolling for cardboard boxes. We stopped at Hobby Lobby, and were met with a reply that they cut down boxes and mail them back to the senders. We stopped at Kroger, but they throw them out after 3rd shift every night. Finally, and reluctantly, we stopped at Wal-Mart. Melissa has made a pact with god to never purchase anything from Wal-Mart, but since we weren’t actually BUYING the boxes, we were able to justify it on a technicality.
When we got there, we first stopped off at the Customer service center and they directed us to Lay-away. Back in the Lay-away area, tucked away in the back like a dirty little secret, they had stacks upon stacks of reinforced cardboard boxes; Previously home to various detergents and other large plastic bottles. The attendant informed us, after we inquired, that throughout the year they keep the old boxes on hand for lay-away, except at xmas, when they are prohibited from giving them out. Good thing it’s August! We left with a cartful of about 9 or 10 decently large boxes — I felt like we were hauling off the spoils of a shopping spree! We offered the boxes to the greeter for checking, just so she knew we weren’t trying to get away with anything. She was a little older lady with a slight hump at the top of her back. Wal-Mart seems to have a tendency to employ the upper and lower ends of the age bell-curve. She said that they’re supposed to check all the boxes, but she wasn’t too concerned. We apparently looked trustworthy. She gave it a once-over and bid us farewell.
Shortly after we arrived home, I started packing. I figured since the boxes were pretty roomy and reinforced, I would pack a lot of books into them. Books tend to be really heavy, and I am super-awesome at packing boxes. There is barely any space left, and each box is about as dense as it can possibly get. Starting with the top-shelf, which was mostly hardcover books, I began packing away the shelves upon shelves of books we have.
I enjoy packing books and other things with a pretty uniform size. It’s like a puzzle to me: how densely can you possibly pack the things into the box so as to fit as many as possible. Put a whole bunch in, re-assess, take some out, re-arrange, put more back in, close box, seal box, label box with sharpie. Done. Sometimes I see books I haven’t seen in a while, or forgot I had. I see books that I’ve been “meaning to read,” or books that I keep with the intent of letting someone else read them. I grab a book off the shelf: The Sivananda Companion to Yoga; I flip through it until I get to the maternity section, and pass it to Melissa, who was laying on the couch. She reads it for a little bit and then lays it on the coffee table, choosing instead to watch me puzzle over a box.
I was on the “Science” shelf, with a few books from the “Math” shelf left over. In the center of the box is the extremely tall Fantasia boxed set, an xmas present from a few years back. I’ve determined the only way to get this box to close is to fold in the flaps on the near and far end, and put the Fantasia box in the dead-center. The side flaps don’t meet in the absolute middle anyways, there’s just enough room for the Fantasia box to poke out. The challenge now is getting as many books as possible in the two small divisions on either side. I find it somewhat amusing that the books I’m stacking in there: The Universe in a Nutshell (Stephen Hawking), Hyperspace (Michio Kaku), Six Easy Pieces (Richard Feynmann – somewhat of an ironic misnomer of a title), etc. all have to do with space and time.
After each box is packed as solid as it can be, I take it out into the hallway, stack it on another box, and grab an empty and start over. Once I completely finished all the shelves on one unit, I did 2 boxes of DVDs and VHS tapes. Our DVD collections have intermingled — I think this is a modern-day symbol of co-habitation. When you’ve reached the point in your relationship with someone where you don’t feel the compulsory need to keep your belongings separate “just in case things go wrong” so you can make a quick exit. Some of our books and CD’s have co-mingled as well.
It’s amazing how much media we have. I imagine in my head about having an area in the house for a library. Perhaps the dining room… perhaps the second bedroom where the nursery will go as well. Imagine a child growing up with its field of vision filled with shelves upon shelves of books; It’s first perceptions of reality defined by the dinosaur media of paper-text.
Tomorrow is a big day. We have a case worker from the County Health Dept. coming over just before noon, presumably to make sure that we aren’t living in absolute squalor or absolute luxury. I cleaned out the litter box, took out the trash, and did the dishes to clean up the kitchen a bit. I figure if it’s messy but at least not dirty we should be ok. Probably should pick up the clothes off the bedroom floor though.
At 3pm (either today or tomorrow, I forget which day the inspection is) I’m burning an hour of comp-time, heading out of work early to do the walk-through inspection with the inspector we hired. It’s the “total-house” kind, where the inspector is a Jack-of-all-trades, looking for obvious problems and repair-needs. If it’s anything he can’t decipher, we’ll bring in a specialist just for that. I had set aside a pad of graph paper while I was packing so that I can make a scale-drawing of the floor plan. We’re going to scan it into the computer and use the floorplan for both brainstorming as well as a project-plan for renovations. Our offer is contingent on this inspection going well — I have a good feeling about it and am not too worried.