New Russian Chronicles
Surviving monotaxocausofilia

The city of last things – I


The logistics of disassembling your life

What had happened with the books happened again, but with a vengeance. Remember how I got rid of a lot of books? The trick was to divide them into cathegories. These cathegories were “I’m not going to read this”, “oh come on, this either”, “let’s be honest, this either no matter how much a like it”, “This is a present but I can’t carry it”, and, finally “Aaaaaaaaaaaar! Out, out with you, I’ll regret it later but I don’t care!!!1!1!!!!”.

Well, what happened with the rest of my chattels, those which weren’t books, was the same, but meaner. Two days before I moved out, I had a sleepless night. That night came about essentially because, until that point, I was sure I had thrown everything and my baggage was minimal. Boy was I wrong. Suddenly I started packing things in boxed and panic ensued. I had much more crap than I was willing to transport. And so came the Great Purge.

A preliminary list of casualties

All the paperwork I am supposed to keep, but was sure I probably won’t ever need.
My ESIT entrance exam results
Copies and certified translations of my College diplomas
A copy of my birth certificate (I’ll regret this if I ever run for office)
My electric razor (aka The motorbike)
A mousepad
14 condoms
A hair drier, which I hadn’t used since my long hair had been amputated. (My roommates had used it though)
Some files (relevant contents taken out and put in other files)
About 5 kgs of postcards and notes from exs (the furnace wasn’t working)
Three jackets
Two blazers
A metric kilogram of Bulgarian homework
3kgs of assorted bathroom chemicals that different roommates had left over the years
One bottle of female parfum (Versace’s The Dreamer if you must know)
Several fridge magnets
Four pillows…

… and this is not even an attempt at an exhaustive list.

Planning for a Major victory

The deal is, I had started planning this move back in January. Oooh man have I become a little schemer with time. Everything, just everything was planned in one go, one day in December. The rest was just execution. That doesn’t mean everything went on without a hitch. After all, I had to deal with a Parisian real state agency. Which means I was screwed, since a Parisian real state agency tends to be a collection of very incompetent and stupid assholes. Incompetent, yes, but not for that less arrogant, less condescending or less sure that they hold all the cards, and are going to make you their bitch. My advice if you ever have to deal with one of those: Shoot first.

But in the end, it all worked. Taxes, bills, employers, real state agency, ISP, … everyone, everyone without exception had their documents in time, all contractual relationships were closed on time and with minimal hitch. Essentially, what I did was a de-investment the size of which had no precedent. I have de-invested myself from Paris in the most complete and systematic way. That doesn’t mean I have no ties to Paris anymore, but it does mean that I only have those that matter: My friends.
But that was hardly all, since it remained quite a delicate and difficult question. Operation: Cleanup of the apartment was definitely going to be a hard nut to crack.

More on logistics

Think about this. It’s not just that I owned a lot of useless stuff. The real problem is that I had lived in that room for the longest uninterrupted period I had lived at a place, after leaving my parents’ home. This might not seem important but for one fact: for the first time in my life I owned furniture.
Oooh yeah, is furniture a bitch or what? You are used to it, you like it and use it and you’d kinda take it. But… if you are moving 3000km away, you kinda can’t.

The first suggestion I heard was to, and I kid you not, throw everything through the window. It was a literal suggestion delivered by someone with a straight face. Let’s not dwell on the issue 😉 I’ll just add that I had to literally show the proponent my window, so that the person would see the actual height between the window and the ground. The person quickly understood that if I threw furniture it would 1) Shatter 2) Kill someone 3) Destroy parked vehicles 4) ??? 5) Have me arrested

What I did, however, was cooler. I decided to go for the whole Gift Economy thingie. I printed some signs and stuck them in different places around the ‘hood. Not that it was very necessary, but I warned people: If you need stuff, come and pick it that particular day, in this particular corner. (FYI: The corner of Rue Barbanegre with Rue de l’Argonne, 75019 Paris). That’s it, everything, absolutely everything was going to be left on that corner, for the good people of La Villette to take, use and enjoy.

The good people of La Villette, how much will I miss you. But! I’ll write about you guys soon.

It all started on the 29th of February, at 8h37am. After a sleepless night of throwing out things, I went to Place Opera to send one final electronic appliance to someone (through leboncoin.fr), and after that went to the Post Office and sent 5 different packages with books I had failed to return, to different people. Then I saw someone for the last time (for now) and went home.

At 11am the moment of reckoning came. Everything had to go down. And by the way, I would now like to mention David, who helped me throughout the day, and Angès, who gave up what free time she had to help me.

Photographic evidence


From this picture, I’m sure, Karolina will recognize a mug we stole from Estarbacs, Robert will recognize a half used bottle of maple sirup, Charlotte won’t be surprised to see a broken Shisha (which was quickfixed), Bernat will be happy to see the colorful plastic ice thingies that I bought in the middle of a harsh winter and less happy to see the bed he had to help me carry upstairs. (Though to be honest, I dragged that thing from Alesia to Corentin Cariou by myself). Maybe you too, kind reader, identify some object that has some common story between us. If you want to declare yourself, please do.

A provisional inventory of things done away with

A bed bought through Craigslist.
A desk
Two lightweight wardrobes
One of those things French people call “un Clic-clac”.
Two big wooden shelves
Two big cupboards
A massive kitchen cupboard and table
Some kitchen shelves (which I hope no one used, they were badly in need of being decontaminated, or burned).
All kinds of dishes
Silverware
A mixer
Scales
A dish drier metal thingie
Enough household cleaning chemicals to dissolve a corpse
Two bar stools that the local concert venue took. (L’Espace B. if you go there and see two grey bar stools with black padding and a turning seat, those used to be mine. Also, go to l’Espace B, 16 rue Barbanegre, it’s cool).
Several chairs
spices
A mouse (that, now that I think of it, someone had lent to me… ooops)
A toiletries bag
A toiletries bag stolen from the business class section of an Indonesian airlines plane
A toiletries bag taken from a Madrid to Paris night train
A headset
An electric kettle…

… and many, many other things.

And where’s the Major victory in all that? Well, on the one hand I planned and executed this move so hard that my own powers of organization and management suprise me.

But mainly…. moving is cathartic. Thanks to this move I’ve taken a long, hard look at everything I owned and thrown away 90% of it. And you know what? It feels FREAKING GOOD.

So yeah, that’s my advice to you, kind ladies and kind gentlemen: Get rid of the dead weight in your lives. It feels freaking awesome.

This is all for now. There’s more to tell, and I will.

Meanwhile, at La Villette, trees grow from the rooftops

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6 comentarios to “The city of last things – I”

  1. those are my spices!

  2. Congratulations Mr. Bingham. I’m impressed to see that you actually practice what you preach in your fascinating rucksack presentation.

  3. You know what ? The things you left me – or maybe I took from you – when you changed flat and country, are very useful to me 🙂 When I was sick, I treated myself with your Morrocan lime-blossom tea. When I want a tea, I take the violet tea you left. When I wanna open a bottle of wine, I use your corkscrew. Really good examples of reusing !!!! Thanks Pablo jaja.


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