Moving Brain

I just realized that I haven’t blogged in over a month. It’s a symptom!

Every time we move, I suffer from a recurring syndrome called Moving Brain. I’ve written about it before, but it’s on my mind at the moment (along with about 287 other things) so why not explore it more detail? It’s about the only thing I can concentrate on at the moment, anyway!

This morning, I woke up at 4:30 a.m. and immediately started thinking about moving. I don’t even remember what I was thinking about. Air freight? USDA paperwork for the cats? Today’s pre-packout survey? Stuff I need to get done by car before we ship it out? How to use up all this Karo syrup, molasses and brown sugar before the movers come?

You might be from Tennessee if you move into an apartment for one year and have both Karo syrup AND molasses left over at the end of it.
You might be from Tennessee if you move into an apartment for one year and have both Karo syrup AND molasses left over at the end of it.

I put on my sleep mask and earplugs, hoping to knock back off and sleep through my husband’s 6 a.m. alarm for language class (which takes place from 7:40 to 9:40 a.m. because that makes sense…) Usually, this works. But not today. It will work less and less often as wheels-up approaches. I am resigned to this by now. I know I likely won’t sleep well again until we hit those scratchy polyester sheets atop the rock-hard government mattress in our new three-year home, and sheer exhaustion from the trip knocks me out.

So many people have said me lately, “I guess you must be an expert on moving by now.” Or variations thereof. I guess I am an expert. I know the basics by heart, and each time, I learn something new and useful.

For example, when we moved from Vienna to here, I used Evernote checklists for packing UAB and luggage. I still have those lists, so all I had to do was update them for this move. They are cross-platform, so I can even look them up on my phone while shopping. Pretty cool. This time, I’ve added a checklist for address changes. I’ve even been copying useful snippets out of the post newsletter into the notebook for future reference. Damn, I’m good.

Back in the analog days, I used to get one of those big office calendars from Staples and we’d write down everything we needed to do before packout. We called it the Holy Calendar.

Now I have an online calendar and task list that is shared with my husband. We really need this because we are sharing one car for all our errands. The list is also available on our phones (which are rapidly becoming much smarter than we are!) This didn’t stop my husband from making a doctor’s appointment in the far-off ‘burbs for after the car ships and on packout day. But that’s OK, he’s got Moving Brain too!

We are still getting better at this after over at least a dozen moves, but we still screw up sometimes. Experience is a great teacher, but it’s not a cure. Lists and notebooks help—a lot!—but they can’t resolve the essential ADD resulting from putting your world in a box, shaking it up, and setting it back down again on a different continent.

Which leads to the most important thing I’ve learned: lower expectations! Accept that something will go wrong, no matter how hard you work at being organized. Just hope it’s nothing major.

I am kinder to myself than I might once have been. As a basically organized person most of the time, I always feel like I should be able to get this right. But, by now, I recognize my limits, both practical and mental. I know that I am temporarily incapacitated by Moving Brain. So, I just breathe deep and accommodate it.

I moved up the end date for my job to three weeks before packout because I knew I would not do good work during that time and it was better to let someone else take over.

I have learned all the Polish I am going to learn for now, and my brain needs a rest. So, I’m packing up the books and podcasts until we get to Warsaw (I am signed up for Survival Polish two weeks after we get there however!)

I know that on some days, I am just not going to get dinner together and we’ll have to order a pizza. So it goes.

I go to the gym a lot because it requires no thought whatsoever and chills me out.

I know that I will not be able to concentrate on any complicated craft projects, so I knit baby hats for charity out of scrap yarn.

I watch impossibly silly TV. I’m not even going to say what I’ve been watching lately. No, really, you don’t want to know.

I read pulp fiction every evening before bed and in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep. Murder mysteries and historical romances are on the list—for therapeutic purposes, you understand!

Fortunately, this move is pretty manageable. It’s a good thing, because though I have the knowledge and experience, the motivation factor is lower every time. People ask me if I am “getting excited for Warsaw.” I know that they are just being polite. It’s no reflection on either Warsaw-the-city or Warsaw-the-post (both of which give every indication they will be a good experience) but in truth, I can’t say I’m “excited.” At this point, I just want to get the packout and the long plane flight with two crazy cats over with, then unpack my suitcases, and not think about moving for a couple of years. I can get pretty excited about that!

Taz suspects something is up...
Taz suspects something is up…
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