On Jan. 3, I filled my iPod.
I didn’t see that milestone coming. When I finally bought an iPod two years ago, I intentionally purchased a model I thought large enough for my ever-growing music collection, but not so large that its capacity would go to waste. I expected the device to break before I ever needed more than 30GB.
When I added the albums that pushed my music collection over that 30GB mark, of course I panicked. “I need a new iPod!” I thought. “Do I have money to bump up to the next size? What am I going to do?”
I quickly came to my senses and realized I was being ridiculous. I love being able to carry every album I own everywhere I go, but I don’t listen to all 17.7 days worth of music. I would be scared to count how many of those 6,352 songs I’ve not listened to even once. So maybe the problem isn’t that my iPod is too small, I concluded. Maybe I’m the problem.
I cleared enough music off my computer to ensure my iPod and iTunes would sync, and in the weeks since I’ve continued the spring cleaning. I only listen to one track from Amy LaVere’s album; though so many people loved it, it never really clicked with me. Off it goes. I load albums I’m sent for review, but if they don’t make the cut? Delete.
The following weekend I applied the same mentality to my apartment. I have more clothes than I need, and so many that I don’t wear. My trunk was quickly overflowing with bags earmarked for Goodwill. My bathroom was next on the list. I had developed a tidy collection of samples: shampoos, lotions and anti-aging creams (lots and lots of anti-aging creams). Just because I might need this cream someday doesn’t mean I need to store it today (besides, by the time someday rolls around, the cream would have expired). I bagged them up and took them into work, where my coworkers quickly claimed the products and put them to use.
It felt good, this cleansing ritual. And it’s ongoing; I’ve got clothes I’ve set aside, waiting a few days to see if I really can part with them. If I don’t wear it, why do I own it? And I’ve continued to edit my iTunes as new music comes in.
But there’s one area of my life where I can’t seem to break the hoarding cycle. Books.
Last weekend was the Friends of Emmet O’Neal Library Book Sale, and I certainly did my part to support the library. By the end of the weekend I had bagged up 80 books: 35 for one of my best friends, 44 for me and a crossword puzzle book for my grandfather.
And I’m unashamed. It’ll take me a while to read all of those books, especially combined with my already-lengthy to read list. And OK, I’ve instituted a book buying fast: I am not allowed to buy books again until Feb. 22, 2010 (or next year’s Emmet O’Neal book sale, whichever comes first). I need to read through some of what I already own, and no doubt I’ll continue to acquire more freebies. (I’ve got a knack for it, well, a knack and Paperback Swap.) I’m allowing myself three exceptions, because you just never know when something fabulous will be published. I hope to have read at least a significant chunk of this year’s book sale purchases by this time next year.
Even so, books are one thing that I just can’t get enough of.
Book Sale Bargain Day Finds:
- Beowulf translated by Burton Raffel
- Travels with Barley: A Journey through Beer Culture in America by Ken Wells
- The Archivist by Martha Cooley (OK, I totally bought this book based on its cover.)
- The Best American Magazine Writing 2002
- Name All the Animals by Alison Smith
- On Writing Well by William Zinsser
- The Best American Essays 1990 edited by Justin Kaplan
- The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
- I Feel Bad about My Neck by Nora Ephron (OK, I’m too young for this book. But I like Nora Ephron.)
- Watership Down by Richard Adams (My book club read this a few months ago. I … didn’t.)
- Peace Like a River by Leif Enger (See above.)
- Stern Men by Elizabeth Gilbert
- The Reivers by William Faulkner
- The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
- Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
- The Case of the Missing Books by Ian Sansom (Again I must confess: I bought it because of the cover. It has a date due card on it. And it talks about books.)
- The Summer of the Great-Grandmother by Madeleine L’Engle (Because I have friends who OBSESS over her work)
- Before Columbus Foundation Fiction Anthology edited by Ishmael Reed
- Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
- Still Life with Woodpecker by Tom Robbins
- Reading Rooms: America’s Foremost Writers Celebrate Our Public Libraries with Stories, Essays, Poems and Memoirs edited by Susan Allen Toth and John Coughlan
- Sister Age by MFK Fisher
- Ray in Reverse by Daniel Wallace (Because I dig Daniel Wallace)
- The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
- Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt
- Leaving Home by Garrison Keillor (I have, um, never read or even really listened to Garrison Keillor.)