The More Observant Among You Will Have Noticed My Heavy Reliance on the Pictoral Post in Recent Weeks, and Shut Up Already That I’m Essentially Phoning in My Blogging Life Because I’m Teaching Summer Classes at the Same Time I’m Computing How Many Pairs of Underwear Can Fit Into a Compression Sack


I promise I’m not complaining.

The truth is, the kids are off at daycamp this week, which magically opens up the daytime hours for Groom and me to hustle around the house, throw bedding into plastic bags, and disassemble bed frames, all while staring at a pile of caribiners mixed with agates and Yu-Gi-Oh cards and thinking, “Do I really feel like taking fifteen minutes to separate the cards from the agates from the carabiners, or should I throw them all in the trash–or put them into a Ziploc bag so that I can unpack them again in a year and stare at them some more?”

Then there is some more hustling around to take paintings off the walls, an activity only broken up by the minutes spent staring at the stack of our daughter’s 56 journals, each of which have writing on the first page only. This staring is followed by a few minutes of rifling through the 203 pencils in her desk drawer, which conveniently alternate with key chains and stickers of emoticons, a mixture that can only be called Tween Gorp.

After about an hour of what should be Productive House Packing Time, I realize I’m pretty much just walking down the stairs, getting a plastic bag, carrying it back upstairs, opening a drawer, sighing deeply and dramatically, and then closing the drawer and wondering why I’m holding a plastic bag.  Before I’ve completely registered all the junk around me, some part of my vision becomes oblivious to it; the vastness and variety of the piles of stuff all blend together, my head gets woozy, and I plop down with an ooof onto the floor where I sit and consider one more time the specific craziness that is Agglomerated Clothes I Think I Want to Take to Turkey. 

On one level, I think I’ve done okay, as we’ll be gone a full year to a place with a complete rotation of seasons, and yet I’m taking neither snow boots nor winter coat.  But I am currently stalled out on a stack of 19 short-sleeved shirts that all are begging for a trip to the Near East.  The short sleevers are so raucous that the 3/4- and full-length sleevers aren’t even emitting a peep but, rather, are sticking together resolutely and silently in their own stolid clump in the corner.

Right now, our household is realizing how even our “restrained” packing attempts are resulting in hella lotta crap being aimed at an open suitcase.  Groom–who can say no to dessert, go to bed at a reasonable hour, and avoid shopping for months–compiled all his intended clothes, and here’s what his low-key self came up with:

In comparison to his big-but-doable load of clothes, mine is overwhelming in both breadth:

and depth:

As I chastise myself for struggling to cull the mass of fabric, though, I am defended by rationalization.  In the  heap are 6 bras.  Over the course of 365 days, that means I would wear each bra about 61 times.  When put that way, 6 bras doesn’t seem excessive.  When photographed as part of a column of 3 skirts, 11 pairs of socks, and 10 pairs of underwear, though, the cumulative heft–which comprises maybe 1/6 of the overall total–seems like too much:

You may have noticed already how, even after a few photos, the heaps start to blend together.  Very quickly, it’s just Puff ‘N Stuff everywhere.  If I turn away from issues of underwear and open my closet door so as to view all the sundries that we’ve tucked inside as part of the Non-Clothing Items–home school books; a few toys; crayons and markers; DVD’s–it’s as though I’m possessed by Material Vertigo and can’t see anything through my swimming vision. 
You may have noticed that I mentioned bras and underwear with little hesitation.  Assuming a posture of semi-defensive breeziness is part of my smoke and mirrors act,
to distract from the issue of shoes.
Which I don’t want to discuss.  Because it’s kind of a hot button for me.
Because I’m thinking 10 pairs of shoes sounds about right (rather a lowball numer, to tell you true…keeping in mind that I wear a women’s size 10, which I won’t be able to buy in Turkey), but whenever I start to intimate to my husband that taking 10 pairs of shoes might qualify as “restrained,” he makes this odd gargly noise in the back of this throat and clutches spastically at his Adam’s apple.
So then I just shut up, hand him a spittoon, and slide open a Very Special Closet Door, where the view could not be more clear or simple,
where I am reassured by a quick glance

that everything is going to be all right.




16 responses to “The More Observant Among You Will Have Noticed My Heavy Reliance on the Pictoral Post in Recent Weeks, and Shut Up Already That I’m Essentially Phoning in My Blogging Life Because I’m Teaching Summer Classes at the Same Time I’m Computing How Many Pairs of Underwear Can Fit Into a Compression Sack”

  1. monica Avatar

    so, Turkey, huh ? all you need is a bikini and a snorkling set.. and maybe a towel..
    I've just been 2 weeks on Crete, which is practically right next to Turkey, and it was hot, hot, hot.. and sunny.. and hot…
    but what an adventure for y'all! can't wait to hear about it.

  2. geewits Avatar

    I don't think 10 pairs of shoes would be too many for a whole year. I am NOT a shoe person but I probably wear 7 or 8 pairs a year. So 10 is fine. A year is a long time and you always need shoes.

  3. Deborah Avatar

    This is a particular kind of hell you are going through. I have two recurring nightmares – one of an airplane using my roof as a landing strip and the other of having to move house.

    I completely and absolutely relate to the up-and-down-the-stairs-with-or-without-a-plastic-bag-and-not-doing-anything-useful-with-it syndrome, which is the result of a mind overwhelmed by the task at hand. At a certain point, nothing functions properly anymore and you become robotic. Who coined the term 'vacant lot syndrome'? Just read it the other day, and it applies to me when I'm packing to leave one place or the other, and I think it may just be appropriate to you too. It's a temporary state.

    It's a helluva thing you're doing in the name of adventure and education, Jocelyn. Well before you're a rocking-chair bound nonogenarian you'll be glad you did it, and the kids will never forget it. Years from now, when they meet their one true loves, the getting-to-know-you conversation will inevitably turn to childhood, and the defining aspect of theirs – a year in Turkey- will be received with 'I just knew there was something different and special about you. I can't wait to meet the people who made sure you had that experience.'

    Shoes. You may recall that I am a size 12, making me someone who understands your anxiety about being separated from adequately ample footwear, and the potential distress of not being able to get more. There is always the internet, and Turkey does have a postal service. I can hook you up with French or British suppliers.
    Frankly, you don't know how lucky you are to ONLY be a 10 – the selection disappears to almost nothing at my end.

    There is something to be said for minimalism, and embracing it brings the same relief as cool night air after a muggy day. Don't fret. Whatever you might be missing, you can always buy. Cheaply. You must, in any event, make sure you leave room in your suitcase for that sort of thing, so don't pack them tooooo full.

    I am humbled and awed by the fact that you can find the time to write about it all – but of course it's probably easier to write about packing than actually do it. Courage!! My thoughts are with you more than you know.

  4. Deborah Avatar

    Jesus Murphy. Bad enough that I wrote a novella as a comment, but that it appeared 4 times??? Overexposure, definitely. Sorry about that – Blogger is acting up. Can't delete them either.

  5. Jazz Avatar

    Those shoes have me drooling all over my desk… And 10 pairs doesn't seem excessive.

    Remember though that DVDs are set up to play by zone. American DVDs don't play in the european zone unless you have an "All Zone" DVD player. And even that doesn't necessarily work – it didn't when we brought back DVD from Europe.

    I feel for you. But at least you won't have to come back to what you've thrown out. It's always good to cull.

  6. Becky Cazares Avatar
    Becky Cazares

    You're probably annoyed by now with everyone offering advice instead of sympathy (which I have in buckets!), but harking (w-a-y) back to my twenties when packing for two years in France, I remember packing a BUNCH of stuff that I never even needed. So my advice is go light when faced with a dilemma. However, 10 shoes doesn't sound excessive, especially considering the seasons. And speaking of seasons, take those short-sleeved shirts. If Turkey is anything like Arizona (which I've heard), you'll be glad for light clothing. It's easy to forget what "hot" feels like, and especially if you don't get a place with adequate air conditioning.

    My second piece of advice is courtesy of my little brother, who once took a "vacation" to visit our older brother, decided to stay, and asked mom to mail his stuff… which was ALREADY PACKED in mailing boxes in his closet! So, if you need yet another label for your growing piles, make one of them a "maybe" pile, box the stuff you think you MIGHT need, and leave them with a friend or family member. Take only the list of what's in the box (in a general sense) so if you discover you need that orange sweatsuit after all, your friend/family can just pop the whole box in the mail in a jiffy.

    You won't ever do this again, but you also won't ever regret having had the experience! I'm a bit jealous, even considering the magnitude of your task.

  7. lime Avatar

    i guarantee that no matter what you leave or take you will get there and say to yourself , "WHY did i bring this and leave that?" it's the nature of the beast. but yeah, it will all be alright.

  8. alwaysinthebackrow Avatar

    So, think of it this way-your husband is leaving more room for you to pack your shoes.

    I don't think 10 pairs of shoes is excessive at all. I also wear a size 10 wide and it is hard enought to find them here, let alone in Turkey. And I would consider more underwear…..who knows what kind will be available there, and if you don't have comfy underwear, life could be hellish.
    What a huge undertaking. I think it is great that you have a week child-free to increase the chances of accomplishing something. I also know that feeling of trying to get things done, but realizing I have not accomplished much.
    Just know that you will be on the plane, and it will work. You will have a wonderful year! I am extremely jealous, even of your preparations.

  9. yogurt Avatar

    I do not envy you this packing extravaganza. I do, however, envy the adventure that lies ahead. Lays ahead? Lay ahead? Tell me, teach.

  10. secret agent woman Avatar
    secret agent woman

    They don't have your shoe size in Turkey?

    It would be so hard to pare down for a year's visit somewhere. Especially since Turkey is a conservative country and you can't, in fact, get y on a bikini. But Lime is right – it's inevitable that you will wonder why you brought some things and didn't bring others. Still, I just know you are going to have an amazing time.

    BTW, you got a mention in my interview in this past Sunday's Roast (link in my own post). If you are pressed for time, I'll just tell you here that it was complimentary. 🙂

  11. Jenn @ Juggling Life Avatar
    Jenn @ Juggling Life

    My brain has shut down at the mere thought of all this. Good luck!

  12. unmitigated me Avatar
    unmitigated me

    So, 10 pairs of underwear means that you can go 36-and-a-half days without changing, right? Unless, wait. Do they have laundry in Turkey?

  13. kmkat Avatar

    I was blown away by only 10 pairs of underwear and 11 pairs of socks. I took more socks than that on vacation, for god's sake.

    Of course, I only wore 4 of 5 pairs of them, but still…

    10 pairs of shoes might be excessive, but if shoes are what make you feel great then that's what you need. Hand-knit socks are MY thing, that's why I took umpty-eleventy-seven pairs on vacation.

    That said, try to cut down on the overall mass as much as possible. You will buy some great stuff there and will need a place to pack it when you come home.

  14. actonbell Avatar

    Exciting times, good times. And those are groovy groovy shoes! You will need lots of shoes, you really will, especially since you don't know how easy it will be to obtain new ones, should you need them, when you're already there. Shoe shopping in Turkey! If you do that, you must tell us about it.

    Can you mail some of your shoes there? I mean, so you don't have to lug them around?

  15. chelle Avatar

    I am going to annoy you. I do not even own ten pair of shoes. And that includes my winter boots. Though if I get the rain boots I want I will have ten!

    How fun packing!

  16. choochoo Avatar

    I've never been able to do restrained packing. Ever. I'm missing a chromosome there, or something. So I just bought a really big suitcase. Which somehow only escalated the problem, so now I'll need to get an even bigger one, I think.

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