The Seven Stages of Packing Up Your Life (Even If You Didn’t Think You Had Much of a Life to Pack Up)

September 2, 2013


You guys.

I did it.

I quit my job and my life in Buffalo.

I packed up everything I own and shoved it all into my beige old lady car.


Me, my beige old lady car and everything I own.

And I drove from New York to Michigan just in time to catch this sunset.


Wowza, Michigan. Way to welcome a girl!

And listen to an impromptu ukulele concert at the rest stop.


It’s not creepy that I take pictures of random people giving ukulele concerts at rest stops, right?

And eat a melty cupcake while reading about my new state.


Hello, Michigan. Care for a cupcake?

Because doesn’t a new life in a new state deserve a cupcake?

To be honest, it wasn’t nearly as easy I thought it would be.

Well, the sunset and ukulele concert and cupcake parts were all pretty easy. But all the other parts were kind of, I don’t know, hard. 

I liked my job in Buffalo a lot, but I didn’t think it would be all that difficult to quit it. Because, you guys, do you know how many jobs I’ve quit in the past fifteen years? At least eleventy-jillion. I’m not even lying.

And that whole quitting my life thing? I do that almost as often as I quit my job.

And packing?

Come on.

That should have been easier than the cupcake.

I mean, I spent an entire year living out of a bag the size of a smallish golden retriever.

You’d think I could just throw a few things in a duffel bag and be done with it. After all, I haven’t owned any furniture in over four years. So what did I even have to pack?

But, still, it took me at least four million years to pack. And by “four million years” I mean “two weeks.”  Which I’ve handily broken down in seven stages for your reading pleasure. Here goes:

The Seven Stages of Packing Up Your Life (Even If You Didn’t Think You Had Much of a Life to Pack Up)

Stage 1: The I Don’t Have That Much Stuff So This Shouldn’t Take Too Long So I’m Just Going to Go Out And Enjoy Myself Stage

This was definitely the funnest stage by far.

Mostly because it involved absolutely no packing.

And a whole lot of self-delusion and alcohol. Because WHHHEEEEEE! I’m mooooooooving! Let’s all go have a drink.


Only one. And then I pack. I promise.

You’re buying?

Okay, let’s have even more drinks!


Well, maybe a few more. If you insist.

Just don’t ask me if I’ve already started packing. Another question you really shouldn’t ask me: if I’ve already found a place to live. And don’t you dare give me that “Maybe You Should Actually Do Something Besides Sit Around and Drink Because You’re Moving in Two Weeks” side-eye.

Just let me wallow in my self delusion a little bit longer.

It’s all part of the process, okay?

Stage 2: The Maybe I Should Actually Start Packing Because Everyone Keeps Asking Me If I’ve Already Started Packing Stage

Oddly, this stage didn’t result in any packing.

It did, however, end with my bed piled in about seven hundred pounds of clothing.

Which was surprising because I didn’t even know I had that many clothes. I mean, if I have so many clothes why am I always standing in front of my closet wondering why I NEVER HAVE ANYTHING TO WEAR EVER?

Stage 3: The I Packed Two Whole Boxes of Stuff — I Can Stop Now, Right? Stage

This stage was also super fun – at least the stopping part was fun.

Plus, I got to feel like I’d actually done something productive. I mean, TWO WHOLE BOXES, YOU GUYS. I’m like a machine or something.

Stage 4: The I Just Need a Few More Things (And By “Things” I Mean “Shoes”) Stage

Because, seriously, a new city deserves a few new pieces of clothing, right?

Or, more accurately, three sweaters, a handful of new blouses, a fancy-pants dress I will probably only wear once, a fall jacket and at least two new pairs of shoes. Because, seriously, I can’t just show up in a new town wearing the same old pair of shoes I wore in my old town. That wouldn’t be right.

This stage was also followed by the Let’s Dump All the Clothes I Just Packed Back on the Bed and Try Them All On with the New Clothes and Have a Fashion Show in My Bedroom and Take Lots of Mirror Selfies Stage.

Again, totally part of the process.


The fancy pants dress I will probably never wear anywhere besides bedroom fashion shows.

Stage 5: The Stage Where I Actually Start Packing Stuff. For Real This Time.

This stage was hot and sweaty and horrible and resulted in screaming at all the inanimate objects in my apartment. It’s possible I yelled at the toaster for being a total jerkball. It’s not my fault really. It was being a total jerkball, trust me.


Stupid inanimate objects! All of you!

This stage also involved some crying and throwing and unpacking of boxes I had already packed because how could I possibly pack colanders and cleaning supplies together in one box?

That doesn’t even make any kind of sense.

Stage 6: The One Where You End Up Drinking Wine Directly From the Bottle

There was the matter of this one last bottle of wine that needed to be finished off before I moved. I mean, I couldn’t just throw it away, right? It was a gift from a friend. AND IT WAS WINE. Throwing it away would just be wrong and rude and probably illegal in most countries.

But all the glasses had been packed at that point, so I kind of had to swig the wine directly out of the bottle while watching a Toddlers and Tiaras marathon.


Don’t hate me. Hate the process, you guys.

And stop looking at me like that.

Stage 7: The That’s It? This  One Measly Pile? I Spent Two Whole Weeks Freaking Out About This Itsy Bitsy Pile of Stuff? Stage.

Seriously, you guys.

This is what I spent two weeks of my life doing:



That’s it.

The pile was so small that it all fit into my car aside from a box of teaching supplies. But who needs teaching supplies when you have new shoes? Really.

Besides, those teaching supplies were being a bunch of jerkballs.

Have you ever packed up everything you own? How long did it take you? Did I miss any stages?

I've blathered on long enough! Now it's your turn!

  1. On September 2, 2013 at 9:34 am Kerry said:

    Ah, Stage 6, a perennial favourite of mine. I try to skip the rest of them and get to Stage 6 as quickly as possible, even when it’s packing for something like “one night two hours from home, you literally need a new pair of underpants and some deodorant and a tooth brush, that is ALL”.

    I moved from Portland to London seven years ago. I brought a suitcase full of clothes and books, and left everything else in my parents’ garage. They have been bringing it over bit by bit every time they come to visit, and I have only now realised while typing this that they are probably sending me a giant passive-aggressive signal every time they’re like, “I would have brought some nice Portland beer but instead I filled my suitcase with YOUR BOOKS FROM CHILDHOOD!” Too passive for me, Mom and Dad, also books are great.
    Kerry recently posted..Cows cannot stop East Coast mainline services. All they can do is delay them for a while.

    • On September 2, 2013 at 10:52 am Sally said:

      Yes, best to skip straight to the wine. I think you have something there.
      My parent’s aren’t quite so passive-aggressive when it comes to cleaning out their basement of all their kids’ stuff. My mom once loaded up her minivan with all the boxes my sister had kept in the basement and brought them to her unannounced one year. Luckily, I only have 3 or 4 boxes in the basement, so if she shows up with that stuff at my new apartment, it won’t be such a big deal.

      • On September 19, 2013 at 2:40 pm Stephanie said:

        Ugh, I need to be in step 6 as we, well mostly I as my husband is still in the stage 1 denial phase, are packing up everything and moving to a new home. However, I can’t even enjoy stage 6 as I have a horrible suspicion I might be preggers, but on this front we are both in the denial stage as we were hoping to delay that life stage for a couple more years.

        I have four boxes packed and 45 days left…I think I might be overreacting, but I feel like I can never get it all done in time!

    • On September 10, 2013 at 11:03 am Brittany Ann said:


      For the last two years, I have thought about little else than quitting my job and packing up for London. It seems to be a fear of the unknown that has kept me back. If possible, I would love to ask you some questions on your transition from the U.S. to London along with some advice!


      • On September 17, 2013 at 6:55 pm Sally said:

        I’m not sure what you mean. I haven’t transitioned from U.S. to London — at least not anytime recently. (I did live in London when I was in college but that was… kind of a long time ago.) But I’d be happy to answer any other questions you might have. Feel free to email me at unbravegirl at

  2. On September 2, 2013 at 10:24 am Julie said:

    Welcome to the Mitten! If your adventure brings you to the Lansing area, look me up. I’d love to show you around and help you find a great place to debut your “fancy” dress.

    And yes, I’ve been through all of the stages. I tend to move every 2 – 3 years because OMGBORING so I hear you. That wine won’t drink itself. You did a favor for humanity. 🙂

  3. On September 2, 2013 at 11:30 am MaryAnne said:

    Oh god, I do relate. This whole summer has been an endless series of packing and unpacking and repacking and shipping and I still don’t know where we will end up. At the end of my time in Shanghai, after giving away what I thought was 99% of my stuff, I still had 5 huge postal boxes worth of stuff beyond what I could fit into my 2 allowable check-in suitcases plus carry-on. I spent about a month sorting things and tossing out more and more and more… Oh, if only I could have driven from China to Canada! Bloody logistics!

    My stuff finally arrived a few weeks ago, all intact but a bit battered. I haven’t even opened 4 out of 5 boxes as I’ve nowhere to put the contents. I opened one thinking it had my autumn weight coat in it, but it turned out that the guy at China Post had just randomly slapped the detailed customs forms onto the boxes and what I thought was a clothes box actually contained a duvet cover and high heeled boots. I still don’t know which box has my clothes…

    PS Welcome to Michigan! I’d love to live in a place with a name as awesome as Kalamazoo.
    MaryAnne recently posted..How to plan a wedding in just three weeks

    • On September 2, 2013 at 5:38 pm Sally said:

      I gave away pretty much everything before leaving China, too, but still sent home two boxes. Which I probably shouldn’t have. When I finally got them and opened them I was like, “Umm, why did I bother mailing this to myself again?” Most of it was clothing I couldn’t fit into anymore thanks to all the cheese I had eaten when I returned to the States.
      Good luck with all your moving and packing and everything!

  4. On September 2, 2013 at 12:16 pm Priya said:

    Whoa girl, you are working that fancy pants dress! Work. It.

    I had to pack up stuff a few years ago because I was forced to temporarily move out. And, back then, I was not good at it.( Not sure I’m good at it now.) It came to a point where it was the DAY before I had to leave and I just started throwing random crap into boxes and taping it up.

    So, um, these are er… great stages! Especially the first one! ( Even though I REALLY want to get to stage six!) The other day I was thinking that I need to start packing…even if I don’t know where I’m going. Because, Sally, I too want to live out of a bag the size of a smallish golden retriever. I think I need to go out and have a drink to celebrate! Even if I don’t know where I’m officially going yet!

    Question: Since you didn’t find a place until you got to Michigan, where did you stay until then?
    Priya recently posted..Traveler-Wannabe: Not Fitting In

    • On September 2, 2013 at 5:36 pm Sally said:

      I’ve been staying with my brother who lives about an hour away from Kalamazoo. I’m actually still staying there as I’m waiting for my apartment to be ready. (Apparently, you can’t just hand over some money and move in right away. They need to paint it and stuff. Weird.) So I’m glad I had some place free to stay or this would be a super expensive hotel stay for me!

  5. On September 2, 2013 at 12:38 pm Colleen Brynn said:

    Haha BANG ON. I have done this a couple times, and I find there is always a stage where I have a dance party by myself amidst piles of my stuff and a stage where I’m wondering why I had said dance party because it is 2:00 am and I am leaving tomorrow and I’M NOT DONE YET! hahahaha Love this post! Also wish I could see a ukelele concert.
    Colleen Brynn recently posted..CTC 2013

    • On September 2, 2013 at 5:32 pm Sally said:

      Yep, instead of dance party I opted for Fashion Show/Toddlers and Tiara marathon. And had the exact same reaction. WHHHYYY DID I DO THAT? I’M NOT DONE YET!!! I’M NEVER GOING TO FINISH!

  6. On September 2, 2013 at 12:48 pm Andi of My Beautiful Adventures said:

    I’ve packed up my life several times. I actually found it to be really an awesome experience. I loved going through every item I own and donating so much stuff. It felt really freeing! And I’m a big fan of change as well. 🙂 Good luck with your new life dear!!!
    Andi of My Beautiful Adventures recently posted..Bluffton, South Carolina: Day 1

    • On September 2, 2013 at 5:32 pm Sally said:

      I always love that feeling of getting rid of stuff. But this time around, I had very little stuff I needed to get rid of. In fact, I spent more time stealing a lot of secondhand stuff from my parents — especially housewares stuff since I don’t really have any of my own anymore!

  7. On September 2, 2013 at 1:55 pm Heather said:

    I was following your packing and moving process on FB, but I love how you’ve told the story here. And yes, there are stages! Several seem very familiar to me 🙂

    Packing everything from my parents’ home post-Australia to move into my apartment one year ago involved more work than I thought possible. Did I really have THAT much stuff?! It was in the basement and on the top floor, so I had a great workout over the course of several weeks.

    Welcome to your new home!
    Heather recently posted..Orange and blue wedding colors: Our perfect combination

    • On September 2, 2013 at 5:30 pm Sally said:

      I’m glad I winnowed down most of my stuff that I had in my parent’s house over the years. Before I moved to Japan, I threw out or donated most of my stuff. And then I went through it again before I moved to China. So I only had three or four boxes in their basement this time around. Although, if you ask my Dad, the entire basement is full of my stuff!

  8. On September 2, 2013 at 1:58 pm Tom said:

    Welcome to the Mitten! I actually moved out of there a year ago (work…) but it’s a lovely state. Probably similar to Buff but without the harsh winters… unless you’ve moved to the west side of the state! Good luck.

    • On September 2, 2013 at 5:27 pm Sally said:

      Umm, yeah, so I moved to the west side of the state. I’m definitely not looking forward to the winters — especially after all the mild winters I had in Asia. I guess I’d better start boot shopping!

  9. On September 2, 2013 at 3:45 pm Jessica J. Hill said:

    You’re so spot on with all of these stages! I usually spend way too many nights in Stage 1, leaving myself exactly 1 day or less (every. single. time) to pack up my life, whether it’s in a backpack or a car. Then, usually still hungover, I look at the pile and wonder why I’ve been stressing, and make myself feel better about leaving anything behind by the fact I probably won’t miss it anyway.

    Great post. What are you going to do in Michigan?
    Jessica J. Hill recently posted..An Attempt to Make a Pad Thai Recipe

    • On September 2, 2013 at 5:26 pm Sally said:

      Yeah, that’s usually what I do, too — especially when I’m packing for shorter trips. Because, HEY, WHY PACK? I’LL JUST BUY IT THERE! LET’S DRIIIIINKKKKKK!!!!
      As for what I’ll be doing in Michigan, I’ll be teaching. I got a full-time gig at a university here in Kalamazoo. And, well, I imagine I’ll also be drinking. 🙂

  10. On September 2, 2013 at 6:37 pm Beverley | Pack Your Passport said:

    I LOATHE packing. Loathe it! I’m going away for the weekend (yes, I said, the weekend: one weekend) in 4 days and I’m already stressed about packing! I’ve packed my life up several times and yes, it’s a great way to get rid of a load of old stuff you don’t need, but I also find myself getting ridiculously nostalgic about random ticket stubs and pebbles from the beach which I clearly don’t need but somehow really need at the same time.

    Good luck with your brand new life, I hope it’s awesome!! 🙂
    Beverley | Pack Your Passport recently posted..Where to Live in Auckland

  11. On September 2, 2013 at 9:57 pm Selly said:

    China is being a bit of a jerk this morning, had to jump over the wall to read this, but I’m here now. I know only too well how packing up everything you own feels like. When I moved to Ireland I had a tiny suitcase (no wheels and a pain to carry around), a backpack and a small handbag. Somehow, over the course of eight years, my belongings multiplied and multiplied…a bit like rabbits making babies! I did a “spring clean” last December because I wanted to box stuff up and send it home to Germany…throughout the entire process my only thought was “Damn why do I own so much stuff and where does it all come from?” Then I spend some more time cleaning out things and throwing away stuff and it’s daunting to pack up everything you own or most of it but it was also kind of liberating. With my move to China finalised I had to pack up everything I own to fit into two and a half suitcases and a backpack. I wanted to drink alcohol…loads of it. That was by far the most frustrating thing I’ve ever done. I’m done with moving countries for a while…it’s too much hassle.

    • On September 3, 2013 at 6:15 am Sally said:

      The funny thing is that after years of being very minimalist — only taking photos in places I visited and not buying any souvenirs, living with very minimal clothes (for me!) and housewares (compared to my former life) — I find myself really wanting STUFF. Yesterday, I was in a department store feeling up all the towels and really wanting an entire fluffy set for myself — and this is after having only two bath towels the whole time I was in China. I guess we all go through cycles… and now I’m in the STUFF cycle. I have a feeling this cycle is going to be expensive!

      • On September 3, 2013 at 8:58 am Selly said:

        I totally understand how you feel. When I did my “spring clean”, it was mainly just because I felt that I had too many things and not enough space, though I’m glad I could send it all to Germany for safe keeping and didn’t have to worry about it when my China plans finally came together… Still in Ireland I had loads of stuff, loads of kitchen ware for cooking and baking and loads of other things… Now that I’m starting over I find myself wanting to buy loads of things for my new apartment because I finally live by myself for like the first time ever. I’m trying to restrain myself as I’d rather go on a mad shopping spree after I move in with my fish. Still I find it difficult to just stroll through the household aisles in my local supermarket without buying at least half of everything… Btw, I forgot to mention. I think you look absolutely gorgeous in your fancy dress and the outfit you put together in the picture looks perfect for work, dinner or anything really (except maybe hiking or other mad physical things). You must find loads of opportunities to wear it. You know, the funny thing is, now that I’m a teacher in China I find myself making a lot more of an effort with regards to my choice of clothes, make up and all those things… Weird, huh. Also random and off topic but yeah that’s just me…

        • On September 3, 2013 at 8:06 pm Sally said:

          Aww, thank you! I do usually dress up for work and often wear long dresses or dresses (usually with tights or leggings as I work with a lot of conservative Muslim students so I feel a bit awkward about showing my legs). This dress was a bit more fancy than what I’d wear to work, but I’m thinking I should just wear it around town and act like I’m that girl that wears dresses around town. After all, I’m the new girl! I can wear whatever I want around town.
          Glad to hear you’re enjoying China… and go buy yourself some fun housewares. At least they’re super cheap there.

  12. On September 2, 2013 at 10:12 pm kate convissor said:

    Hey! Welcome to Pure Michigan. You’re living below the bridge, so you’re considered a troll. If you visit the northern resort towns, you’re a fudgie.

    Art Prize is happening in Grand Rapids. Not to be missed. Saugatuck is another fun town–destination for Chicago summer visitors and a bona fide gay community. Lots of galleries and culture.

    September is an awesome month in West Michigan. All the fudgies have gone home, the little fishing towns along the West Coast are quiet (Pentwater, Manistee, Ludington, Arcadia) Don’t miss Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore and the wine country (yeah, WINE) in the Leelenau Peninsula.

    Next time we’ll discuss da Yoopers.

    Seriously, New York is almost as beautiful as Michigan, but Buffalo, not so much. Hope your transition to Kalamazoo is sweet. I know they have a brewery, which I’m sure Erik (on my feet or in my mind) is itching to introduce you to.
    kate convissor recently posted..Why you don’t need to be afraid

    • On September 3, 2013 at 6:13 am Sally said:

      I’ve already started working on my Michigan bucket list — I’ll be sure to add your suggestions to it! Also, Buffalo IS beautiful. You just have to go with someone who knows where to go. And don’t show up in January. 🙂

  13. On September 3, 2013 at 5:39 am ConfusedJulia said:

    Good luck in your new life in Michigan!
    ConfusedJulia recently posted..Flashback Friday: Sydney Opera House

  14. On September 3, 2013 at 6:53 am Spinster said:

    Yeah… as someone going through this right now (again), this sounds about right. 😐
    Spinster recently posted..3 years (part 3).

  15. On September 3, 2013 at 7:27 am Aimee said:

    After reading your post, I feel like I am supposed to be packing, but I’m currently trying to stay put after I recently decided to pack up my whole apartment after drinking directly out of a bottle of Passoa and the next day realized I shouldn’t have moved. I am still unpacking and vow not to drink directly out of anything.

    • On September 3, 2013 at 8:07 pm Sally said:

      Maybe it’s best to decide if you’re moving or not BEFORE you start drinking. If I made too many life-changing decisions after I started drinking, I’d probably be in Argentina right now instead of Michigan. Actually that doesn’t sound so bad… 🙂

  16. On September 3, 2013 at 9:01 am Rose said:

    Don’t worry, I got back at mom for the whole “pack up all my stuff from childhood and show up at my adult house with it” thing by sending her home with more crap than she came with. Oh yea, I am THAT good. You want passive-aggressive, I will give you passive-aggressive!
    Rose recently posted..Biggest Loser Contest!

    • On September 3, 2013 at 8:03 pm Sally said:

      NICE one. So that must be all YOUR stuff in the basement that Dad keeps trying to pin on me. (I seriously only have 4 boxes down there and he’s always saying I have tons of stuff down there.)

  17. On September 3, 2013 at 11:12 am Montecristo Travels (Sonja) said:

    1st off – YOU must MUST wear that dress!!

    Big fan of packing up and moving. I think everyone should do it at least every 5 years. As a minimalist there is no better moment to go over your “stuff” and really think about what it brings to your life and is it worthy of your new adventure ahead. My friends tend to benefit greatly at this point since I get pretty darn generous handing out my still new but just not “new life” clothes and other items. The rest goes to Goodwill or some such.

    I loved your stages!!! Maybe I laughed as hard as I did because I personally am the actual TOTAL opposite!!

    I am ready and packed weeks before. Even for trips I am usually ready a good week ahead. I have found this to be useful since I have time to tweak and make small changes. When I downsized from a massive home to a tiny apartment (the most liberating experience…like… EVER…) I couldn’t get through fast enough. And, I left an odd glass out. You know how you always have that one glass or mug that doesn’t “fit” or match (yes I have matching glassware so what?!) well I left it out and had that bottle of wine. AND then … as I walked out I did the whole “break the glass” thing for good luck. Only you know… inside a zip lock bag wrapped in an old rag… to toss it in the garbage, no clean up needed. LOL!
    Montecristo Travels (Sonja) recently posted..The Best Taxi Driver’s “George Taxi” – Athens – Greece

    • On September 3, 2013 at 8:02 pm Sally said:

      Omigod. I need you to pack for my next trip. I am always the one shoving everything into a bag the night before. You’d think I hated traveling given the amount of time I spend procrastinating over packing for it.
      And, yes, the dress is pretty cute, huh? I wear long skirts and casual dresses (usually with leggings) all the time, but I hardly ever wear anything anything that really shows my legs (which this dress does). This is partly because I work with a lot of conservative students and partly because I’ve never been that confident about my legs. I’m trying to convince myself that since I’ve moved to a new town, I can totally pull off looks and other fashion statements I wouldn’t usually try at home.

  18. On September 3, 2013 at 11:13 am Kate - CanuckiwiKate said:

    I suffer from the exact same process all too often!! I’ve been on a huge chuck out mission, getting rid of stuff I left at my parents house before I went to university/traveling 8 years ago. Never ceases to amaze me how much STUFF one can accumulate, even when I don’t got shopping for stuff ever!
    Kate – CanuckiwiKate recently posted..Free Things to do: Beautiful Day Walks in Jasper

    • On September 3, 2013 at 7:58 pm Sally said:

      Most of the stuff I accumulated in the last year has been clothes & shoes… which is funny because I feel like I don’t really shop for it that much (I usually allow myself to buy some new stuff at the start of each semester… but that’s about it.) So why do I have a full closet full of new stuff? How did this happen??? I suspect elves.

  19. On September 3, 2013 at 11:15 am Deb said:

    I packed up my life just over a year ago and moved from Northern IL to the Twin Cities area. We had a big house there and were moving into a smaller place, so I became a fabulous Freecycler and friends with the guys from the Epilepsy Foundation. And now, more than a year later, I’m cleaning out our storage unit – a larger size than I’d like to say that went for more than 8 months without being opened. Once again, I’m a fabulous Freecycler and the Savers Donation drop is a constant stop as we go through boxes and bins. I’m so happy to pass on items that haven’t been used to someone who can use them and that we don’t have the space to keep. It is a very freeing feeling to not have all this stuff to move around and be concerned with. And makes moving again in the future a bit easier. We are so weighted down by our stuff.

    • On September 3, 2013 at 7:57 pm Sally said:

      Totally agree. I did the same thing right before I left for Asia — got rid of all my household stuff thinking, “I’ll never need this again!” As I didn’t think I’d be moving back to the States long term. Sadly, I kind of need this again as I DID move back to the States long term. Oh well, I guess this means I get to buy fluffy new towels since my old ones are MIA. I can’t say I feel too bad about this.

  20. On September 3, 2013 at 4:34 pm Erik said:

    I have moved many times myself. I should know better than to even unpack. But, here I am again, looking at moving again (this should be the last one- especially with THIS mortgage) but now it’s not just my stuff, it’s all of my wife’s stuff too. I’m the pack rat of the two of us- she’s surprisingly unsentimental and doesn’t have a lot of keepsakes, but she makes up for it in shoes, clothes and purses. I just have boxes upon boxes (upon boxes) of travel stuff I’ve saved. As I tell people, when they finally get around to opening my museum, they won’t lack for things to put in it.

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and speak for all 9.8 million residents of Michigan and say we’re thrilled to have you here. They have all (yes all 9.8 million) specifically instructed me to drive there and take you out to a couple of our fine breweries (which you already seem to be doing a bang-up job at). I’ll be in touch 🙂 and welcome.
    Erik recently posted..In de Vrede, Westvleteren- Beers & Bars of the Europe 2013 Trip

  21. On September 4, 2013 at 2:24 pm becky hutner said:

    Oh my dear Sally, Sally, SALLY. You think packing’s hard? Wait ’til you try the special brand of pain they call UNpacking. I just moved 2 months ago (all of a mile, but it’s still moving damnit!) and I’m still nowhere close to done.

    Apologies for being 4 yrs late to your blog party. Your writing is absolutely brilliant & I can’t wait to dip into the archives on a rainy Sunday.

    PS — you BETTER wear that dress. Who says you can’t be fancy in Michigan?
    becky hutner recently posted..Back to SE Asia Part 2

    • On September 5, 2013 at 10:17 pm Sally said:

      Yes, I definitely think the unpacking will be horrid. BUT since I don’t have any furniture there’s really no rush to clear out the boxes as I imagine I’ll be using them for tables/desks/guest chairs, etc.
      Glad you’re enjoying the blog and YES the dress will be making an appearance. Once I can find whatever box it’s been shoved into.

  22. On September 4, 2013 at 3:02 pm ayan said:

    i started laughing at the title part.. until the last .

    any updates on your book?haha
    ayan recently posted..BASILAN: YODO – You Only Die Once

  23. On September 4, 2013 at 3:22 pm Alana said:

    With each move, I’m amazed at how much stuff I have. I have a lot of knick-knacks. Cursed things. And don’t even get me started on my box of mementos.

    I’m terrible when it comes to packing. In fact, I am so terrible that my roommate banned me from coming near the packing boxes. (“That box isn’t even full!! Get away, don’t touch any boxes anymore!”) Instead, I’m forced to do all the laundry in the house, get rid of clothes and shoes we don’t want anymore, and clean. Really, it’s not too bad a trade-off. When I see all that needs to be packed, I get overwhelmed, sit down and consider setting it all on fire.

    So, I’m used to *not* packing. Boxes schmoxes. One day when I get my roomie married off and I’m faced with packing all by lonesome, I’ll probably attempt to pay off friends to do my packing… Or set fire to it all.

    • On September 5, 2013 at 10:13 pm Sally said:

      That sounds like the perfect trade-off. I’m actually really good at laundry and getting rid of stuff — it’s the keeping stuff and putting it in boxes that freaks me out.

  24. On September 5, 2013 at 4:23 pm Tom @ Waegook Tom said:

    Stage 4 and 6 are my favourites. Stage 5 is evil incarnate. Appliances are usually docile as long as you leave them where they are, but ask them to do something simple like getting in a box and all you get is sass-mouth and passive-aggressive nonchalance.
    Tom @ Waegook Tom recently posted..Sexy Ukrainian Women… And Their Shoes

  25. On September 6, 2013 at 12:36 am Joanne Joseph said:

    Love, love, loved this. I just got done selling my home, either donating, throwing away, giving to someone, selling a few things and storing a tiny bit of the remnants. I went through the packing denial stages at every opportunity. “Want to go to lunch?” You betcha. ” We need help at the nursing home, are you available”. Sure, I’ll cover three shifts in a row. “The dentist has an opening tomorrow”. Great, I’ll have all my teeth pulled. Anything to keep from packing. But now I can thankfully say that is all behind me and I have relocated. Now if I could just stop putting off the unpacking…
    Joanne Joseph recently posted..Visits from around the world

  26. On September 6, 2013 at 2:13 pm Sine said:

    So very true. I spend inordinate amounts of time procrastinating about packing and telling everyone about it. I so hate packing I’d rather never go anywhere, really. My dream vacation involves someone telling me 1 hour prior to departure and making “go shopping for stuff you might need” the first item on the list of when you get there, wherever it is.
    The closest I’ve come to what you did there was packing for my Kilimanjaro climb. I spent weeks and weeks assembling and reassembling everything in my room and at last packing my whole life, at least my whole life for one week, into one duffel bag. Only to then be told, don’t put all that stuff into a duffel bag you’re going to check into your flight, because it might not arrive there and then you’d sorely miss your boots, at the very least. So I spent another day repacking the bag and taking out the things that I REALLY needed for the climb, which was pretty much everything in it, so that I could carry it onto the plane. Hate hate hate packing (although the part about drinking leftover alcohol out of bottles is also my favorite part).
    Sine recently posted..Volunteer Opportunities in Johannesburg

    • On September 17, 2013 at 6:59 pm Sally said:

      Yeah, you’d think the more you pack, the more you’d like it. But it’s kind of had the reverse effect on me — the more I pack, the more I never want to do it ever again!

  27. On September 9, 2013 at 2:06 am Carmel said:

    You mean you didn’t have a “hysterical crying, it’s never going to get doe so,just throw it all away or on the lawn, someone will take it” stage? Maybe I was doing it wrong. Of course I lived in my house a lot longer and had a spouse to blame for all our extra crap.

    But seriously…how did I accumulate so much clothing?

    That dress looks great on you. You should wear it often.
    Carmel recently posted..ON WRITING

    • On September 17, 2013 at 6:58 pm Sally said:

      Well, luckily, I didn’t have to move everything out my apartment since it was at my parent’s house. But I did move all the clothes out — because I’m going to need those clothes!

  28. On September 9, 2013 at 6:25 pm Leah said:

    I love the new dress. Wear it, sister!

  29. On September 13, 2013 at 1:15 pm Lois said:

    Hello again Sally! It looks like I haven’t visited a while and so much has happened! What? You’re moving? I’m a 2 backpack kind of girl myself so I probably will just take 2 or 3 steps. I loved the whole 7 steps though. I almost forgot how funny you were!

  30. On September 14, 2013 at 10:58 pm Heather said:

    We hired movers in China and they did a pretty spectacular job. Especially considering how many gifts I rushed out to buy the day before they came. We lived there for two years and literally the day before we left I was like, “hey, we should probably have some gifts for people back home.” After they moved everything out and we were left alone with our suitcases, I decided it was the perfect time to buy myself a new jewelry box and cram it in my carry on bag. Then we bought some stuffed pandas at the airport for good measure. Because you can never have too much stuff, apparently.
    Heather recently posted..Goodbye Shanghai! What I’ll Miss and What I Won’t

    • On September 17, 2013 at 6:50 pm Sally said:

      Especially stuffed pandas. You really can’t have too many of those, that’s for sure! Hope you’re enjoying life back in the States. I see you’ve already been reacquainted with cheese. 🙂

  31. On September 15, 2013 at 10:12 am Jonathan Look, Jr. said:

    Yes I have packed up everything. Several times in fact. The less you have the less you find you need. Yes, even shoes. It gets easier and is EXTREMELY liberating!
    Jonathan Look, Jr. recently posted..Bikini Elephant Wash

    • On September 17, 2013 at 6:47 pm Sally said:

      I lived with only 3 pairs of shoes for the year and a half that I was in China and it was not liberating at all. It was TORTURE. Especially when 2 of those pairs of shoes self-destructed and I could not find a pair of shoes to fit my feet to save my life. NEVER AGAIN.

  32. On September 15, 2013 at 12:31 pm Carmen Allan-Petale said:

    I HATED packing up our life. After five years in London, all our stuff fit into five boxes. We mostly sent home books… which weighed / cost a ton of money. It took us two weeks too, plus there were two of us. We didn’t have a car so we CARRIED our stuff to the thrift store. I think some people thought we were homeless.
    Well, now we are (technically) homeless, living out of a van and we love it!
    Great post – your posts always make me laugh out loud!
    Carmen Allan-Petale recently posted..When I hate life on the road – getting sick when travelling

  33. On September 15, 2013 at 5:36 pm ehalvey said:

    I seriously needed Step 6 after moving from Nashville to Boston with my cat meowing THE ENTIRE TIME. But I guess that’s the Unpacking Steps?

    In that move, I had to pack around my brother who decided to crash with us for two weeks before he moved to Alabama. That was fun.
    ehalvey recently posted..12 Tips for Visiting Dublin

    • On September 17, 2013 at 6:44 pm Sally said:

      Yikes. That does not sound fun. Every once in a while one of my family members would stop in to see how my packing was going and I’d freak out. I don’t think I could have handled someone staying with me.

  34. On September 16, 2013 at 8:15 am choi kum fook said:

    Bien voyage for your new destination–Michigan City, good luck to you and God bless you! I am ready to read your posts to come in new place Miss Sally!

  35. On September 20, 2013 at 11:13 pm Uncle Ed said:

    Your stage 4 pic looks hauntingly like your great grandmother Kimble, she was much shorter, but your dress, expression and neck are a little spooky. She was one of 17 farm children!

  36. On September 29, 2013 at 10:25 am peluche said:

    Heheh it´s nice to read your story, its so simple and so deep in the same time, thanks a lot

  37. On October 1, 2013 at 5:10 am Ceri said:

    My God, you’ve just described every single time I move. Except I’m usually sitting on the floor amongst a pile of books and clothes, crying, while swigging from the wine bottle. Will have to try the Toddlers & Tiaras bit next time.
    Ceri recently posted..My Five Favourite Things in September

    • On October 1, 2013 at 9:10 pm Sally said:

      Yes, it’s best, while having a break-down, to watch reality TV where the people are supremely more f-ed up than you. Makes you feel REAL good about yourself.

  38. On March 16, 2014 at 6:39 pm michael said:

    I packed up all my stuff in 1990, I still haven’t unpacked…..

  39. On April 14, 2015 at 3:59 pm victoria said:

    I love my family, I feel like I owe them everything since they adopted me 10 years ago. Now im 20 years old, freshemen in college with no desire to continue, I dont like my part time job and want to go and explore the world. Ive always had a passion for travel, and although with no college degree it sound unrealistic I really want to pack the little I do have and leave. I have no debt, nothing aside from my own guilt of leaving my family stoping me. I want to improve my photography, write a book and just live on my own with out my family,church memebers, friends giving me the the look of disapointment in me taking a year off school. I guess I just want to start a job somewhere elce, and live in another city of US, does it sound possible or am I a hopless dreamer.

    • On April 15, 2015 at 8:59 pm Sally said:

      Hi Victoria,
      Have you tried talking to your family about your desire to leave? I’m sure they love you and worry about you, but at some point they should realize that you’re an adult and capable of making adult-decisions. I’d suggest first coming up with a plan and doing some research — figure out what city you want to live in, find out how much it’s going to cost to be there, research possible job opportunities, etc. Then start laying some groundwork — save up enough money so you can survive a couple months while you’re looking for jobs, start networking with people who live there to find possible roommates/job connections, et etc. It might take you a lot more time and effort to do it this way, but if your family sees that you have it pretty figured out and you’ve put a lot of effort and work into making it happen, I’m sure they’ll be more comfortable with letting you pursue this life. Good luck!


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