February 5, 2012
Today was a very productive day in the storage unit. We took Chris’s car and took 9 boxes of various books, videos and odds and ends over to Salvation Army. It took 2 trips, and we made it just before closing time. As it turns out, we forgot a giant box of clothing, but there’s always next week. We also cleared out a lot of garbage this week.
We brought home 2 more book cubes for the wall we’re trying to build in our bedroom. I also packed up most of my Barbie dolls to give to a woman I met online, for her kids. They’re also getting a few selections from the kids’ section of our “library.”
The reproduction radio from last week didn’t sell, so I’m going to lower the price again. This week on craigslist we’re going to try to sell the knife block from Dad’s house, since Chris, as a butcher, has more quality knives than we’ll ever need.
Rachel gave me the clearance to contact a comic book dealer to make us an offer on the 20 or so long boxes which are currently residing against the left side wall of the storage unit.
The hardest part of today was sorting through the box of items Rachel and I found on Dad’s dining room table. A lot of it was Salvation Army material – a table runner, decorative bowls, candle sticks. Most of it was garbage – unopened mail from accounts long since laid to rest, calendars, date books, teaching journals, lesson plans, grade books. I flipped through each item, glancing over his familiar hand writing. Looking at the calendar was very sobering. He had made plans for the entire month of June, yet died on the 4th. He missed, by one day, the annual high school fashion show, which he had been working hard on along side his students. There were meetings, birthdays, conferences, awards dinners, and cultural events scheduled every day.
A friend offered to help us next weekend and volunteered the use of her SUV. We’re very glad to have the help and added cargo space.
February 12, 2012
We were both more and less productive today than originally planned. I woke up late, so we didn’t call our friend because by the time we made it up to Brighton, Salvation Army was already closed. Instead of hauling out the existing Salvation Army pile, we just made it larger.
We ended up bringing home 2 more book cubes, which completes the mini-wall we built in our bedroom. I tore through several cubes in the wall in the storage unit, and ended up emptying 4 cubes besides the ones we took home.
One of the cubes I unearthed was almost entirely filled with Frank Lloyd Wright books, photos and news clippings. I picked out a couple of what I considered to be the best and possibly most relevant, picked out a few more to give to an architect I met recently, who (unrelated to this project) is designing and will be eventually building a truck bed camper for me.
In related news, the eBay project is up and running! Chris posted the first item a couple days ago, a Byrds CD set. No takers yet, but we have plenty of time.
We’re reaching the point where the storage unit is almost starting to look organized. We know where most of the stereo equipment is. We know where all of the comic books are, and where most of the historical books are. What’s starting to take up a lot of space at the front is the stacks of books I want to keep, even though what I want to keep NOW is less than half of what I wanted to keep 2 years ago the first time I tried to sort through all this.
And today’s oddity was the commemorative box set celebrating Obama’s election in 2008. I thought it looked nice as a backdrop to the “Thanks for donating” photo from McCain and Palin. I think I should probably try to sell any Obama stuff before this election.
February 19 2012
Very productive day in the storage unit! Chris and I got up there around 3 pm, and took 3 loads to Salvation Army before they closed, mostly of books, clothing, and assorted lamps. We also recycled a few things at Best Buy, and finally dropped off the dead cell phones in a mailbox in those “Cell Phones for Soldiers” bags. I’m amazed at how much walking space we have in the storage unit now. We’re within 8 feet, maybe even 6 feet, of the back wall.
Today I unearthed my collection of 60 or so 3rd generation My Little Ponies, from 2004 – 2006. The last time I had them all on display was in my old room at my Dad’s house, when I was 20. My plan now is to sort and hang on to my favorites, and find good homes for the rest of my collection, in the hands of small children who will play with them.
We also uncovered all the Disney VHS tapes from my childhood, in those trademark big puffy white boxes, all of which went directly to Salvation Army. The real thrill, though, was finding the bootleg copy of The Lion King that Dad tracked down for me and Rachel, within a month of the original coming out in theaters. At the time, it was a super-human power to get a popular movie so quickly. I remember being so astounded with Dad when he brought that tape home one day.
We found more ties today, too. Chris immediately spotted the “Constitution” tie and asked if he could have that one. I was happy to give it to him. I know Rachel will be glad to see the Salvador Dali tie. As for the rest, probably at least 50 or so other ties, I’m hoping my seamstress can turn them into a skirt. That’s a project for later, though.
This week, we may be able to get an appointment with someone who can look over the stamp collection and tell us if it’s worth anything. Right now, the stamps are just sitting in their commemorative folders in one gigantic box. Whatever they’re worth, it would be nice to have them out of the way.
So much of Dad’s collections of collections just blow my mind. I don’t think he was ever really enthusiastic about stamps, but he thought they might be valuable someday, so he collected them. The same could be said of the coins and sadly, probably even the comic books. Aside from the Neil Gaiman comics and a few big graphic novel collections, I doubt Dad read all of the comics in the 20 long boxes.
February 23, 2012
Yesterday we took an unplanned, midweek trip to the storage unit, because one of Chris’s friends works for someone who was willing to look at the stamp collection. We unearthed a box large enough to fit a microwave inside, filled to the brim with commemorative stamp folders. The friend’s boss, who also works with jewelry and coins, told me they were essentially worthless, and that the only stamps of any value anywhere are from before 1914.
I can understand Mom’s frustration with Dad better now, all those years ago when she wanted to start saving for college educations for both me and Rachel. Apparently there was a type of account parents could sign up for that would lock in college tuition rates at their current prices. Mom was really in favor of a plan that would allow us to go to college in 1987 dollars, but Dad vetoed that plan. He didn’t believe in saving money because if the government collapsed, money would be worthless. Better to invest in physical objects, he believed, like coins, stamps, Star Wars action figures … Apparently he promised Mom he would start selling his collections of collections when we were ready for college.
I’m not even really upset about Dad’s lack of realistic planning for mine and Rachel’s futures, but what I am upset about is Dad’s lack of common sense. I got the impression after looking at these stamps that they amounted to little more than Beanie Babies – lots of hype, lots of rabidly enthusiastic people loudly exclaiming how they would appreciate in value, and ultimately, a flood of products sold to the gullible. Just like a Beanie Baby that sells for $25, $50, or $100, the people who bought these stamps were buying them for “someday” when they would become valuable. Meanwhile, the actual valuable stamps (and Beanie Babies) were way out of their reach. (I just looked on ebay – there are Princess Diana Beanie Babies going for upwards of $100,000!)
And for someone who was concerned with the supposedly imminent collapse of the US government, Dad sure didn’t do much to prepare for it. Sure he had a box of gold coins and a few guns (which were stolen after his death and before our arrival). But he didn’t even have the basic supplies recommended for a 3 day power outage, let alone a full-on, end-of-the-world scenario. He had a few cans in the pantry, but no water. He had 4 cars, but no backup gasoline, no generators. He had enough books to restart a library, but he surrounded himself with people who had no use for learning. He lived in a city where vacant lots could be bought for $1, but he rented an apartment from a sleazy criminal who trafficked stolen TVs out of the garage. And he had access to my grandparents’ bizarre zoo/farm/compound, but he never planted a single edible crop and had no idea what edible plants might have been growing in their 10 acres of forest.
I love my Dad, but the more I dig through the storage unit, the more his life is becoming a course in What Not To Do. I could open up the storage unit and teach classes! Possible topics -
How Not to Hoard Useless Crap
How Not to Store Books So They Get All Mildewy and Unusable
How Not to Own 50 Sport coats
How Not to Trust People Who Will Steal Your Stuff When You Die Unexpectedly
February 26 2012
Quote from Dad, found on Artvoice issue -
“ One, among many, indicia of pending societal collapse, is the inability to make correct choices, and the unwillingness, refusal, and reluctance to make timely corrections.”
Chris spent all day yesterday getting the last of his stuff moved out of his old place, so today I told him to stay home and rest, and I went to the storage unit alone. I didn’t take anything to Salvation Army. I’m fighting a cold myself, so I didn’t want to over exert myself. Instead I did a rapid fire sort of 5 or 6 boxes.
Most of the stuff in most of the boxes were books, most of which went directly into the growing Salvation Army pile. I found a few I was interested in keeping, as I do every week. The real surprise this week was another one of my boxes from my time living with Dad. Within that box were another 30 or so books, and another lesson in What Not to Do.
The lesson is this – How Not to Encourage a Self Absorbed Teenager Who Writes Bad Poetry.
Inside this box, I found 7 copies of a frivolous little poetry collection I had been published in when I was 13. I had been featured twice before, at 7 and 10, by this incredibly predatory publishing company, which fed on the self-esteem of children and the misplaced hopes of parents. I convinced my mother to buy a single hard cover edition for us to keep, and 20 copies for me to autograph and give away to my friends. The 7 remaining in this box were all made out to various friends of mine (I even helpfully included a note as to which page my poem was on), but for whatever reason, maybe a last second stroke of awareness and humility, I didn’t deliver them.
I know that hard cover edition is still safely haunting the basement of Mom’s house, so I threw out the remaining 7 volumes.
What’s more terrifying to me than looking back on my own hubris is realizing the trait runs thick in Dad’s side of the family. His father, N, paid for a quarter page column with a photo in one of those “Who’s Who in …” type books. It might be Psychology 1972 or something.
I don’t think I can exactly accuse Dad of hubris though. Sure, his office was tiled in his various degrees – Bachelor’s, Master’s, Law, assorted professional certifications, but those framed pieces of paper actually represented real accomplishments. Anyone could get published in that little “Anthology” I was in – some kid even ripped off the “If Dr. Suess was a Computer Programmer” poem that had been passed around in forwarded emails since the mid 90′s, which was actually written by a man named Gene Ziegler.
At any rate, I’m proud of myself for correcting the problem now.
We did have a small Storage Unit moment of victory last week. I took a commemorative edition of Monopoly, still shrink wrapped, to the Delonis Center in Ann Arbor when I reported for my volunteer shift. That same night, I saw 3 women on the 4th floor thoroughly enjoying an lively game of Monopoly.