Animator in Motion – On Moving pt. 1

Now that things have settled a bit, I can finally update the ol’ blog! I just moved apartments to a much better place. It occurred to me that as animators, we are fairly migratory beasts. Although not due to animation work yet, I’ve moved at least every 2-3 years since I left school. I’ve learned a few tips and tricks the hard way, so I thought I’d pass along some of the more elusive things that can make a move run smoother.

Mental shifts
Keep your recycling habits if you can, but be more willing to toss things which are not needed. DO NOT MOVE TRASH. Do not move things that you will then donate. Do not move things you will, eventually, sell. Get rid of it first or toss it. Time to be ruthless.

You’re not moving, you’re temporarily homeless. In the transition, plan to be roughing it like you were camping. This allows you to do things like pack up your entire bathroom and kitchen supplies ahead of the moving day and not have the last minute scramble to assemble the final bits of your life. This is the logic behind the travel-sized toiletries.

The Go Bag
One incredible helpful thing to have is a Go Bag. This is a concept I got from EMT and SF writer Jim MacDonald’s posts on Making Light. For those of us living in Earthquake country, it’s a solid idea to keep a bag of emergency supplies – food, water, flashlights, medkit, sleeping bag, extra clothes and shoes, prescriptions, etc – on hand in one easy-to-grab duffle. For a move, the same concept applies. You want to have one bag that contains all the basic essentials you need to access. Since everything is going to be in chaos and, by definition, distributed between a lot of boxes, there needs to be one gathering place for all the little things you will need to have constant access to. The list of “what’s essential” is different for everyone, but here is my own. It is in no particular order and I’ll try to keep brief (or less longwinded) about why I’ve included some things:

Gloves – gloves protect your hands from the bangs and scrapes. Even thin gloves will give you a better grip and will leave your hands less tired and able to do more. Leather does work the best (sorry animal lovers), but avoid the really thick kind. If you have to fight the glove to make a fist, it’s not going to be much help.
Backbrace – you will need this, young and vital or not. It will allow you do to more for longer periods of time. Protect your back. I didn’t when I was younger and stupid and now I need one. If it helps, wearing a backbrace or a lifting belt is what you actually do when you “gird your loins”. The loin is the sides next to the stomach, not the inner thigh or groin. So now you can make all the loin girding jokes you want. Find entertainment where you can.
Wallet – we’ll just assume your license is in here. You’ll want a fair amount of cash – as much as you’re comfortable carrying in $20s. I opt for $100. This is for handing to helpers to run to the store to get stuff, paying the pizza guy, or buying gas at the only place that is open that only takes cash.
Watch – a timer and alarm is helpful. Especially to remind you when you and your minions need to eat or take a break.
Cellphone charger – seriously, nothing sucks more than your phone dying and having no idea which box is hiding the charger.
Directions to the Truck Rental and new place
Truck rental statement – usually serves as your right to drive the vehicle and/or proof of insurance form.
Ibuprofen – an ample supply. It is an anti-inflammatory, so in addition to the literal headaches of the move, you can use it at night to let your body repair some of the strain it’s been under and let your next day be pleasant
Multi-Vitamin and Zinc – you’ll be eating crappily, do doubt about that. I’ve found that lack of proper nutrients makes for a more stressed out me, so the vitamins counteract that. Could all be in my head, but hey if it works don’t knock it. Zinc on the other hand is to prevent muscle soreness. The body needs zinc to rebuild tissue. Sore muscles are the results of micro-tears in the muscle tissue. By taking zinc, you’re supplying your body with the stuff it needs to heal quicker. This works great for any strenuous activity or for after workouts.
Allergy meds – I’m not horribly allergic, but dust bothers me and moving = tons of dust kicked up. A little hint – diphenhydromine HCL 25mg (aka the active ingredient in Benedryl) is both an allergy med and a sleep aid. Check out the boxes – it’s the exact same med in the exact same dosage. Sleep aids, however, are more expensive. This bit of trivia illustrates two things: 1) medicines create effects on the body. Whether that effect is the purpose of the drug or a side effect is dependent upon the marketing department. Viagra, for example, started out as a heart medication. The “side effect” though, was more profitable, so that’s how it was sold. And 2) it pays to read labels. The active ingredient is the ONLY thing that matters in OTC drugs, and if you know what the active ingredient is and see that the amounts are the same, then it will have the same affect as the brand name.
Liniment – Three types are in my kit. The first is my favorite for aching muscles – Tiger Balm. It is strong, smells… more decent then Ben Gay, and aspirin-free (if you’re under 25 and have remotely flu-like symptoms, DO NOT take anything with aspirin. A friend of mine died of Reyes Syndrome at 17, and I’d like not to see that happen to anyone else). The red version is stronger, but it WILL stain light clothing. The second is for bruises – dit dot jow. There are a couple of ways of writing it, but it translates to something like “Iron Palm Wine”. You can find it on-line or in Marial Arts supply stores, possibly a Chinatown if you have one. Put it on a bruise and it reduces or eliminates the time the bruise is around. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that it is along the same lines as Herbal Remedies. It seems to work, but no real clinical trials that I know of. Next time I get a big welt, I’ll try applying it to just half and see what happens. The third, like dit dot jow, is yoinked from the Martial Arts/Eastern medicine community: Zheng gu shui. It is for helping sore ligaments and tendons – useful for joint pain. Usual application is to spray on the skin, then cover with a moist heat pad (hot wet towel, etc). Be warned – don’t leave the heat on too long. The stuff itself warms just by itself. Leave a pad on for more than 5 min or so and you risk chemical burns. Mine went away okay with no scarring, but you may not be so lucky. Never had a problem with it without the heat, and it REALLY penetrates in there to soothe. Awesome stuff.
Skin lotion – No really. You’re going to be treating yourself rather roughly, especially the hands. Animators need their hands, whether to hold a pencil, tablet pen, or a mouse.
Travel-sized toiletries: tissues, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, and soap. I suggest something like Campsuds for soap, which can be used for body, hair, or dishes.
Camp towel – quick drying, small, easily packed towel. On moving day, you want something you can toss in the bag and have on hand.
Roll of TP – First thing to move into the new place, last to leave the old.
Roll of paper towels
Microfiber cloth – for dusting
Assembly/disassembly equipment. For me it is a screwdriver, the hex wrench that fits the bolts on my bed, Robogrip pliers, and Vice-grips. Though, I admit, the screw gun usually starts taking the place of the screwdriver. Old art deparment habits die hard.
Box knife – I like the Husky lock-blade. It folds when not in use to avoid accidental cuts or stabbings, and will not slip closed in the middle of a cut as old push-out blades are prone to do.
Flashlight – for checking nooks and crannies of shelves, the seat of the U-Haul at 2am for the rental agreement, and other helpful things
Pens, markers, and paper
Box Tape
A clean set of moving clothes
– for multiple day moves. Moving clothes being things you don’t mind getting torn and dirty.
A clean set of normal clothes – for facing the public. Sometimes, you need to put on a dry shirt and pants without holes just to go to a restaurant.
Camp cookware kit – basically a compact and light set of silverware, cup, and plate. All you kitchenware will be packed, and if I have a choice, I’d rather not add to the landfill with disposable stuff.

Good candidates for your go bag is anything you would be reluctant to pack because you’ll need immediate access to it.

Looks like this is going to be quite a long series of posts. Apparently I’m licking my moving wounds more than I realized because I’ve got a LOT of thoughts on the subject. This is good for now. Keep an eye out for more as I get it put down in written form!

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