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Commentary: Summer 'movecation' is no holiday

FARGO — You know how most people look after a vacation?

They're rested and golden brown from lazing on the beach. They may be sporting the cool LouBoutin heels they bought in Paris or the $300 haircut they got from a Manhattan salon.

They regale people with wonderful stories of running into Jon Bon Jovi at that northern California winery or zip lining over the Grand Canyon at sunset.

I don't look like these people.

I'm exhausted and black and blue from trying to move a box of something (I think it was anvils) up cellar stairs. I'm wearing the same dirty silk blouse with sweatpants that I've worn for the past week, because I can't seem to find the boxes labeled "Tammy's closet." I haven't seen my dog since two Tuesdays ago, although — judging by the noises occasionally emanating from the basement — she is packed in a large U-Haul box with her squeaky toys, 34 pairs of my shoes, and a case of teriyaki beef jerky.

I regale people with wonderful stories of my newly herniated disk and the hilarious thrill of clotheslining myself on an extension cord while trying to move a wheelbarrow with a flat tire across a darkened garage.

My summer "vacation" was about as relaxing and enjoyable as having gum surgery without Novocaine. It was the movecation — that senseless, chaotic, wildly overrated ritual in which one tries to move everything they've accumulated in one lifetime from Point A to Point B.

Along the way, the movecationer will experience a bevy of exciting attractions:

• They'll enjoy the delightfully creepy spectacle of the Spurned Condo, which — upon realizing that it is to be sold — will systematically persuade every appliance, fan and mechanical device to stop working just weeks before closing. This results in the exciting spectacle of shelling out hundreds of dollars in last-minute repairs! Huzzah!

• They'll experience the heart-pounding excitement of the Mortgage Company of the Damned, staffed by the Devil's Own Underwriter, a delightful chap named Mark E. De Sade. Mr. De Sade believes no mortgage process is complete until the borrower has experienced ulcers, panic attacks and carpal tunnel injuries from signing unnecessary paperwork. Among his favorite tricks are requiring the borrower to produce their third-grade bookmobile card and the Shroud of Turin on the day before closing in order to approve the loan.

• They'll revel in the thrill of trying to reschedule a moving company, a carpet cleaner, a buyer's schedule and a title company's schedule when aforementioned mortgage company decides that closing should be delayed because lender could not produce sufficient evidence that the 4-H lemonade stand she purportedly ran as a fourth grader in 1974 was indeed fully solvent.

• They'll puzzle their way through the Mystery of the Incredible Shrinking House, and wonder how they could move into a place that has nearly twice the square footage of their previous home, yet still doesn't have room for a dining room table.

• They'll thrill in the Intrigue of Grandma's Canning Cupboard: Will it fit down that narrow stairway and around that tight corner? Will the mover walk off the job because it's so heavy? Does one really need a canning cupboard when one never cans?

• They'll chuckle at the puckishly unpredictable nature of the jet tub, which was a major reason why they bought this house in the first place. You see, they've wanted a jet tub since at least 1993 and they really could use some hydrotherapy after moving Grandma's Canning Cupboard into the basement. And now ... what's this? Three uses of the tub and the pump now smells dangerously hot? Perhaps this, too, is a case of the Spurned Home, except this house waited until its previous owners had sold it before plotting its revenge.

Oh well.

I can't waste time worrying about it. I still need to find the dog.

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