A Moment of Strength, or Weakness

I was looking for an old car radio in the dimly lit basement storage room. Amid the archived esoteric computer peripherals and old gaming systems, I found a stack of magazines. It wasn’t a surprise, really, because I have binders filled with an assortment of old magazines, including: old computer magazines with programs you could type into your Commodore 64 to turn hours of hunting and pecking and troubleshooting typographic errors into minutes of fun with primitive games; decades’ old copies of Writers’ Digest that contain the endless loop of advice that magazine provides; several varieties of home handyman magazines to provide me with fantasy projects that I could handle but wouldn’t want and projects that I would want but couldn’t handle; and myriad single copies of magazines I picked up on newsstands while telling myself that they’re research for my writing career. No, instead of those semi-useful magazines, I found two years’ worth of Spin.

Sometime immediately after the turn of the century, I got an unsolicited invitation to subscribe to Spin for two years. As it was, I wasn’t hip to the latest music, and I’d just turned 30. So, with some lottery-ticket hope of recapturing some of my youth, I took the chance and sent the ten bucks, and the magazines started coming. Each issue showed some different group of unwashed kids revolutionizing everything about music. The White Strokes, the Activisions, Dashboard Light, and so on and so on and Scooby Dooby Dooby. Frankly, the magazine didn’t give me the urge to increase my budget for CDs based on the say-so of some music-industry spit-shiners, so I let my subscription lapse. Besides, my music-buying habits in my salad days centered upon buying two dollar cassettes from the racks at Walgreens or Camelot Music and sometimes finding something I really liked, albeit several years and a couple of albums beyond the group’s hits (a-ha and Cutting Crew, for example) and sometimes finding something I played once and then forgot (76% Uncertain et al). So Spin couldn’t help me recapture a youthful musical hipness I never had in the first place.

Still, I browsed the magazines and then threw them into a box. Did I intend to keep them in case I needed them for research in the future? Did I keep them in case they became collectibles some decades hence? I’m not even sure I needed that much excuse, as I’m somewhat of an accumulator of things (see also that list of electronic esoterica). However, when I rediscovered this particular stack of magazines, I decided that I would never actually use them for research. They probably wouldn’t be worth anything as a collectible as the next generations, to whom these would be collectibles, won’t actually collect things. And the bands covered within the magazine are probably just flashes in the pan whose names I obviously cannot get correct even now, three years removed from the musical revolution and whatever passes for hits in the iPod world.

So I stacked them in a box, but I didn’t throw them into the recycling bin. Perhaps I gave myself a cooling off period to ensure that I did not act rashly in my discarding the valuable-because-I-have-them clutterica. Perhaps my hands were too full (of nothing since I didn’t find the car radio). Whatever the reason, the magazines took up residence in the box on the floor instead of stacked atop binders of more valuable magazines.

A couple of days later, I returned to the storage room and found the box of magazines. Now, I could certainly carry the collection to the recycling bin. However, as I looked at the box, I thought perhaps I could list an eBay auction composed of the “collectibles,” but my eBay sense tingled danger, and I knew that I’d only lose my auction fees. Then, I thought about saving them for a yet-unplanned garage sale in the future or using them as a donation to a sale of some sort, but ultimately I’d mark them a dime each and no one would even paw through them. No one pawed through the collection of magazines at our last garage sale earlier this month. So that foolish dream or rationalization too died.

Anti-climactically, I carried them out to the recycling. Ultimately, it was that easy; simply lift with the legs and not the back, ascend the stairs, open the door, set down. Once I got the habitual mental hang-ups out of the way, I did it without fanfare. I got rid of something I had no use for but that was only taking up space in our store room. But, contrary to the hopes and dreams of my wife, that doesn’t mark the beginning of a trend in my behavior. These were just Spin magazines, after all, and not a sixth Commodore 64, a box of uncleaned and thoroughly played with G. I. Joes from the middle 1980s, or boxes of comic books that haven’t been out of their plastic bags for fifteen years. Those things have intrinsic and obvious because-I-have-them value.