ImageCHAPTER 4

Chroniccongestion

A house is just a pile of stuffwith a cover on it.

GEORGE CARLIN

It’s nine o’clock at night, and Karen and Ted Jones, a double-income couple in their forties, are peering through a flickering flashlight beam at boxes of stuff, stored a few months earlier at U-Stuff-It, the self-storage facility near their house. He’s rooting for a missing report his boss needs the next day, while she’s foraging for a painting a friend gave her, because the friend is coming to visit.

“I feel kind of like a burglar,” she comments in a low voice, rummaging through a box of Christmas decorations and vaguely familiar objects. “Why?” he asks. ...

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