It's been a long process, and I want to give my public thanks to Lois Spangler, batyatoon, and Gabriel L. for helping me out. The third floor of my Mom's house is a dusty place, and there's no air conditioning, so it gets very hot. Even with the one fan we had running, the conditions were not ideal for the manual labor needed to clean out my stuff. But...we did it.
The process went as follows.
We (meaning Lois, Batya, and me) began last Monday in the back room of the third floor. The room was filled with a lot of books, magazines, and collectibles, all scattered on the floor in an avalanche. We picked up the books and lined the wall with them. I checked each one of the books,. Books I didn't want we left stacked in the back room. The ones I wanted -- science fiction novels and collections, books by Isaac Asimov, comic books, autographed books, etc. -- we dumped in the front room for the moment. (Among the personal autographed treasures I found was Sheldon Glashow's autobiography INTERACTIONS. When I had him autograph it, he commented that he hadn't seen the book yet and wrote in the book, "The first autograph." I wonder if that'll make it even more valuable.)
Tuesday we all took off. I watched the shuttle launch, had lunch with a mentor writer in Manhattan, and sorted through boxes of comic books rescued from the third floor. That's when I found Crisis on Infinite Earths and DC Challenge and rebagged them, this time with backing boards.
Wednesday, Lois and Batya returned, and we finished up the back room. All the stuff I wanted was now either on the floor of the front room or on the landing.
Thursday, Batya was unable to help out, but Lois and I were joined by Gabriel. Gabriel is an expert at packing boxes to capacity; I think he said he learned from playing lots of Tetris. (Edited to Add: I misunderstood; he simply calls his ability to pack like playing furniture Tetris.) Now, because all of my stuff from the third floor had to go to the basement, we had to clean up the basement first a bit. The problem is that I already had stuff in boxes down there, and many of the boxes were broken from having been packed loosely and stacked on top of each other. So we started by repacking some of my stuff in the basement, and rescuing the comic books I had stored badly down there.
(This was when we found my Firestorm collection, by the way. I seem to be missing only issues 3 and 5 of the original 1978 series "Firestorm: The Nuclear Man", and issues 38, 53, 61, 86, 90, and 99 of the 1983 series that began as "The Fury of Firestorm the Nuclear Man" and then became simply "Firestorm." I also need Annuals 1 and 3, and most of the issues of Flash that contained Firestorm as a backup feature [I have 291-293]. If anyone out there can help me out, let me know.)
Then we went upstairs. Because it was still hot on the third floor, but the second floor had air conditioning, we came up with an idea. I had purchased a bunch of boxes and a tape gun, so we could pack all my stuff into new boxes. Gabriel made those new boxes in the second floor back bedroom, and Lois brought them upstairs to me. I put my stuff loosely in those boxes so Lois could bring them back downstairs to Gabriel. Then he actually packed and sealed the boxes so that each box held as much stuff as possible.
By the end of the day, all my personal stuff was off the third floor. Nine boxes were in the basement, but some stuff was still in my bedroom and needed packing.
And that's what happened on Friday. Gabriel came over, packed up the rest of my stuff, and brought it to the basement. I now have thirteen boxes of almost all of my stuff from the third floor. (The things I kept out include comic books which I want to store properly, a few books for gnomi on the so-called Manhattan Project, and copies of my early publications. In fact, I found my very first publication ever, a letter in a magazine called World Over. I'll share more about that if anyone's interested.)
The job wasn't done yet, though. My younger brother Joshua, who had come on the previous Sunday to see if there was anything of his he wanted to rescue, came yesterday and rescued the rest of what he wanted. We also rescued family stuff, like old photographs, books written by my grandfather, etc., by moving all this stuff to the second floor back bedroom. And today Gabriel and Batya came over to finish the job, which involved clearing out one final closet on the third floor and making sure that there was nothing left that we wanted. (I found a bunch of letters my Dad wrote when he was applying for jobs in the 1960s, plus my Mom's autograph book from when she graduated from eighth grade.)
Tomorrow...tomorrow, the junk haulers come. The third floor still contains decrepit old books no one wants, broken furniture and electronics, a dirty rug -- in short, a lot of junk. They'll spend all morning hauling it away, and then, for the first time in over forty years, the entire floor will be empty.
But, in a delicious stroke of irony, Lois, Batya, and Gabriel plan to come back here on Wednesday to move the rescued family heirloom stuff back to the third floor, since we have no better place for it. (We'll also move my unbagged comic books up there, so they don't clutter the living room or the second floor back bedroom.) And then, Thursday, finally, I will return home, and see gnomi again, whom I've missed a great deal.