Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Big Swap - Part 1

Yesterday, I did the big furniture move that I've been writing about so much lately. I started at almost exactly noon on the dot. I "finished" at about 9:30 pm. In between, I hurt my arm, got absolutely filthy, and strained muscles I'd forgotten I had. I haven't ended a day so tired in quite some time yet I still couldn't sleep last night.

First things first, I had to empty out all the cabinets to prepare to move them. This actually went pretty quickly since I scooped everything into a laundry basket and deposited the contents on the bed. These three shelves took 15 minutes to gut.

These clean shelves are brought to you by this huge pile of crap. You never realize just how much junk you have until you evict it all from it's tidy, cozy home. You can't see it in this picture but underneath this thin crust of storage boxes, DVDs, files, etc., there's a huge core mass of clothing in a total state of chaos.

Moving the tall empty shelves out was harder than I thought. For one thing, dust was all over the back and sides and each one had to be thoroughly vacuumed and wiped down before it left the room. For another thing, though they weren't that heavy, their height (about 5' 8") made them very hard to handle, particularly since they are a few inches higher than any doorway in the apartment and have to be angled through. Since our kitchen floor was recently replaced, I also had to be very careful moving them into the kitchen so as not to scratch up the floor.

Once I removed them, the full glory of the secret life behind tall cabinets revealed itself (pictured above). Fortunately, the vacuum sucked up the worst of this lot. I also used a sponge mop and washed them down really quickly. If you start at the top and pull the mop down, the dirt comes down to the bottom where you can then clean it up with a paper towel and clean the baseboards at the same time. Some of the stuff near the top is pure Tokyo smog soot though and wouldn't budge no matter how much soap and elbow grease were applied.

The next set of shelves included books and these were, by far, the hardest thing to move both because they were so heavy and so voluminous. We've been paring down our book collection for years now but we obviously still have too damn many. These stacks aren't even all of them. If you look at the second picture, you can see there were more stacked by the bed.

There's a Seinfeld episode about Jerry retrieving books for George and getting suckered into a relationship with a woman George was extricating himself from and Jerry remarked about how people make such a big deal about books. I'm pretty much on-board with the notion that you really don't need to keep them around once you've read them unless you plan on re-reading them again. If I lived in the U.S. and had access to a library, you can bet I'd avoid any book acquisition like the plague. That being said, an entire large shelf of our books is textbooks for my private lessons and that can't really be avoided.

The final bit to remove was the DVDs which I know we also have a lot of but I can justify these a bit better since few can easily be rented in Japan and we tend to watch a lot of them once a year (or more in my case).

I dragged out all the shelves (and was careful to leave a path to the bathroom and sink - something which is no small feat given the size of our place) and did the final scrub down of the walls. The sofa was still in the room because there was literally nowhere for it to go. I thought I'd try and lay down half the carpet and then move the sofa on top of the laid part and lay down the rest but this so very much did not work.

Our sofa serves as a means of storing a multitude of items in addition to giving derrieres a place to rest. It was simply too heavy to pick up even one end and move it on top of the part of the carpet that had been laid already. I had to open up the storage area and toss all the crap under the sofa into the corner where the carpet was already down and only then could I lift it. Taking it all out was not so bad but knowing it'd all have to go back in was a depressing thought. I decided to put the sofa on it's end so that it'd be anchoring down less of the carpet and strained the old arm muscles to lift it up.

As for the carpet itself, we purchased it from a local shop which sells curtains, carpets, and various household decorative items like novelty pillows. It also has a collection of leather purses shaped like various objects and animals on display including an extremely gruesome one of what appears to be a frog in its entirety. This shop easily wins the award for "world's most uncomfortably warm and stifling shop". I'm pretty sure not one molecule of air stirs in there and it's about 90 degrees. The guy who sold us the carpet spends most of his day sitting in a thousand degree room playing on an old iBook (dual USB, white one). It's one of those places that rarely sees any customers. When he delivered the carpet, he beat on our door and tossed it on the kitchen floor and hit the road in about 20 seconds flat (no exaggeration).

The carpet is actually quite thin, as you'd expect from a cheap carpet, and wasn't too hard to handle but it was rather unwieldy and had a tendency to shift at the slightest provocation. It also was very hard to even out and get it to lie straight but I actually did relatively well with it compared to the last one I put down about 16 years ago. It doesn't appear to have any puffy bubbles and seems to line up along the edges of the room pretty well. I had to step outside on the balcony to give it a yank a few times to help the process.

When it came time to tip the sofa back over, it got away from me (and was still very heavy) and I injured my right arm muscle trying to catch it as it made an alarmingly rapid descent to the floor. At this point though, the ugliest part was done. All I had to do now was drag my computer gear and desks from the bedroom over a bed full of crap and set everything up. The clearance around the edge of the bed and through the doorway is such that any large object going into or out of that room has to use the lower right hand corner of the bed as a slide area to make the journey.

By the time I got the desks in place, around 4 hours had passed and my husband, who was making a badly-needed run to Costco called to say he'd be home in an hour and a half. By the time he had returned, I had all of the furniture in place and most of the computer equipment up and running again but little of the mountains of crap put away. It was all quite daunting because I'd been at it for 6 hours or so and still had miles to go.

Despite the fact that he truly hates this kind of work and has no interest in home improvement and was tired from his very long and annoying shopping trip, he volunteered to help me put things away. He wrapped up all the meat for freezing from Costco then put away all of the DVDs and about 3/4 of the books for me while I dug into the mound on the bed. I don't know what I would have done without his help because I'm certain it'd have taken me 11 hours (possibly more) to do it all alone and I was already exhausted. At the end of all this, I splurged on a Pizza Hut pan pizza (and it was actually pretty well made for a change) and sat on the sofa and tried to recover.

It's still not finished. We have to move the T.V., set up the closet, and put up a few pictures but it should be only a few hours of work then I'll be posting a new tour of the apartment to show the results in part 2.


Leo said...

Yeah, just reading this post makes me really think that I've got it all set up just fine here. ;) I'm certainly tuckered out just reading it.

Takechanpoo said...

You seem to read only books written in English.
Why dont you read books written in Japanese?

shari's husband said...

I saw this second comment about the books, and my first thought was, is this an innocent question, or a dig? Could be either, but the fact that you can't see the covers of most of the books in the pictures made me a bit suspicious that it was the latter.

I decided to post it anyway and respond, and after I did, I hit the link to the site on the guy's name. It was like, ah, I see. (To save you the trouble, it's just a crude, simple, and stupid anti-foreigner site.) No doubt a troll, hoping for an answer which he would then follow up with more and more pointed questions and comments. I comment mainly because it baffles me why someone would bother, and it makes me sad. Nobody whose life was decent would traffic in such trash, hoping to stir up an argument so he can feel superior. I know this is hardly unique, but still... this is sadder than passing a homeless person in the park. With them, there's at least a chance that despite their situation, they're happy, or content. This guy definitely isn't.

No further comments from this guy will be posted, of course. But I am curious, if anyone who read this wants to say what they thought, whether their first impression of the question was that it was a shot.

tornados28 said...

There are losers in every country and takechanpoo is simply a loser.

These people should not even be refered to as anti-gaijin but what they truly are, racists.

They are no different then white power racists in the US.

CMUwriter said...

When I first read the dude's comment I didn't really thinkg anything of it, but then i realized that shari's husband has a point; one cannot see the titles of the books that easily, or the dvds for that matter. I remember even thinking this to myself "hmm i wonder what dvds are in those stacks."

I know spanish, but just because i know the language doesn't mean i am going to go out and read a bunch of books in spanish. Active readers of this blog know that Shari has previously talked about small amounts of english books around. Some people just have to be assholes to survive.

CMUwriter said...

Also the pic of they guy on takechanpoo's page gave me a chuckle, he kind of looks like Peter from family guy.

Helen said...

My first thought after reading the comment in question was that I couldn't see what language most of the books were in!

Then, quite sadly, I had a look at his webpage. As a person trying to make a life in Japan, it makes me sad that in this day and age people still think like that.

In my home we have a goodly mixture of English and Japanese books. Some of the English books are my husbands, a few of the Japanese ones are mine...mostly the "teach yourself Japanese" kind.

While I can read katakana and hiragana fairly well, it's hard to find Japanese reading material that I can understand or isn't too childish for me. The majority of Japanese books available here are for native Japanese speakers.

But, Shari, I'm with Leo, I was tired out just reading about your day! I'm waiting to read The Big Swap - Part 2 when it comes out!

Joanna said...

Reading Japanese does not make one superior. I know quite a few people who are not Japanese who read and write Japanese better than the average Japanese person. I speak Japanese fluently without an accent... I'm technically gaijin. So whoever this uneducated guy is should really get a life and look not at other people but himself.

melanie said...

Do you think that takechanpoo is for real though? This is the second blog that I've come across a comment from him today. The first one, he replied personally to a comment I left on Gaijin Girl's blog at;


At first, I thought, what the ****, he was telling me that because I won't behave stupidly, I would never be accepted by Japanese. I mean, what a crock!

had a look at his blog and thought he can't be serious. I suspect he's a gaijin, trying to be funny, a bit like Kazuhide in the Japanzine. He's not funny though, just a complete idiot.

I mean, even the photo, surely that can't be for real, and the post on his blog....?

Anonymous said...

Of course, if one wanted to pour gasoliine on these embers, you could always resond to Takechanpoo's question by saying something like, "I don't read books in Japanese because there's really nothing worth reading in Japanese." If he's insecure, that might jerk the jerk's chain.

I think, to answer Shari's husband's inquiry, that the question was a dig and should be treated with the contempt it deserves. These comments have now given it more attention than we should. But with so much ignorance and jingoism floating around, it's hard to let something like this pass (he says, adding another thought to the discussion).