My luggage was the central issue this weekend. I started thinking about how to ship part of it home. So far it seemed to be pretty easy. Soh Ang would get a box, we would fill it Friday afternoon and bring it to the post office. Until I started thinking about details.
I didn’t plan much for Saturday. I wanted to go through my stuff, particularly the paper stuff, to see what I don’t need any more. I wanted to finish a first draft of that vignette. And I wanted to make sure to know everything about shipping a parcel home to avoid surprises.
I checked out the USPS website to see if there are any size limits and see what labels I would need. What then took a great deal of my weekend was not the size. It was the fact that I had to think about customs.
I had somehow refused to think about customs until now. What I wanted to send home was part of what would otherwise be my luggage. The stuff I have bought is heavy (books!), that’s why I wanted to send it, but for me it had no commercial value because it is my stuff. Clothes I had bought and worn, books I had bought and read – at least some of them. Why would I need to pay customs for that? It would not exceed the customs free allowance anyway. What I learned on Saturday was that it is not that easy. The allowance only applies for luggage I am carrying with me. Not for things I send home. For that there is an much lower allowance of just about 40 Euro per parcel. And I would need to prove the value otherwise customs would make an estimation. I don’t have a receipt for every book I bought. And what about the value of my – old and new – clothes?
To make a long story short – I was pondering about options the whole Saturday – I finally
decided not to send something but carry two pieces of luggage instead . It just seems way too complicated instead of easier. Hopefully I can find someone who will pick me up at the airport.
Sunday I packed and weighed everything. So far there will be no serious problem with two pieces of luggage. I just cannot buy much stuff anymore. Still need to buy some little presents though.
That done I set out for a walk to get some fresh air at least. I wanted to find out what Astoria’s northern part is like. Rachel told me about the Steinway Mansion and there is a large green spot right at the waterfront on the map, that I don’t know what it is. A mystery. What I had not taken in account was time. When I left the house it was starting to get dark already. When I arrived on Ditmars Boulevard it was dark. The area north of Ditmars Boulevard is quiet and residential. Nice houses with large and well maintained front gardens. Beyond 20th Avenue however it is getting industrial. Deserted and sparsely lit at night. Remembering my uncomfortable feelings when I got into Gowanus one night when I walked home from Park Slope to Boerum Hill I decided I should not proceed. So I still don’t know what the green spot is and I have seen neither Steinway factory nor Steinway mansion.
Instead I zigzagged back to Ditmars Boulevard and took the subway home.
I cooked dinner for Rachel and Noel in the evening. We had my famous fennel and salami pasta and they liked it.
What I learned today:
Sometimes things are not as easy as they seem to be. But it doesn’t make sense to worry. Decisions help.