Sunday, November 03, 2013

Hey remember NaBloPoMo?

Yeah, me neither, which is why it's November 3 and you're just now hearing from me. I was musing at some point today, and not for the first time, that the long-form personal blog is dead, and that I seem to be spending my best material on Facebook, and I was wondering if blogs are going to come back around. NaBloPoMo did not even flit across my consciousness during this musing, but it did later, and now here I am, planning to titillate and bore in equal measure for as many days as possible this month.

Yesterday I ran an estate sale for the first and perhaps only time in my life. One thing I've been doing since I quit my job is a massive cleanout project at my grandparents' house--my grandma died 3 years ago and my grandpa has just recently, at 94, moved into a memory-care facility, so there was the house, packed full of the evidence of not just their life together and their own particular collecting habits, but also the remnants of the lives of their parents and those siblings that died without descendants. They had an unreal amount of stuff--every closet and drawer in the house was packed--and saved every receipt from every purchase and every manual from every appliance and on top of that, my grandma loved to go to thrift stores and buy tchotchkes or things she thought might be collectible and then bring them home and maybe set them in her china cabinets but more likely box them up and put them away in a closet with a masking tape label baroquely describing the contents.

So it was a big job, but I was the right person for it: I could be both ruthless and nostalgic, so that some days I would fill twenty trash bags and boxes with either junk to throw out or goods to donate to the same thrift store where Grandma did most of her shopping, and then other days I would be completely done in by all the photos or pop culture or family history I was unearthing, and I would just do a little work and then look through and instagram stuff all day long.

Also, I was newly underemployed and free as a bird. The project gave focus to my newly-unstructured days.

My mom and her siblings decided rather late in the game to do an estate sale and asked me to put it together. At that point I'd already gotten rid of a houseful of stuff, but there was still a houseful remaining. So I priced stuff and staged stuff and researched the value of all the glassware and the endless figurines and plates and lead crystal and my dad dealt with the giant, packed garage, and the family came over to help, and we let people in to wander through the house and buy things.

It went okay, but there is still a houseful of stuff left. We might need to have two or three more sales.

So that's what I've been doing with myself. It has been interesting, at this point in my life, to have a key to my grandparents' house, and to come and go as I please, to show up and help out and rehome things and clean and hang and look at stuff, when that is never the kind of relationship I've had with them--the drop-by, the let-yourself-in. They were always loving and supportive and showed up to all of our performances and games and we gathered for all of the holidays and birthdays, but the closeness that I have with my parents, or that my parents already have with my nephews and niece, just wasn't in the cards. But now I am free to wander, and to rifle through their stuff, and to decide what does and does not have value. And I am free to piece together the family history I didn't know from letters, and photographs, and scrapbooks, and receipts, and hospital records, and funeral programs.

It's put off the question of what exactly I am doing with my life, but there's time for that. Especially now that it's dark, and winter is coming.


  1. Ha! Did you get sucked into GoT?

  2. Whut? Why, did I inadvertently make a reference to it?