Monday, July 2, 2012

I'm off my personal crack pipe (for now)

I'm copping to an addiction that has cost me tens of thousands of dollars, sent me out at midnight in search of a fix in New York and demanded satisfaction literally every week of my adult life. As of July 1, I decided to give it up for 30 days for the first time since I was 17.

And I'm already starting to sweat.

I have gone cold turkey on books, compact discs and DVDs. That may not sound difficult to you. If so, you don't have 8,000 of these items stacked and packed around your house. You didn't have to install varnished planks of wood to turn bookshelves into layered double-shelves or buy 2,000 slimline CD cases to fit two discs into the width of one, because you ran out of wall space for freestanding racks.

But I did. I can't pass a library without wondering what remaindered books are being sold at 50 cents a pop. An interview at UNCC means a stop at The Last Word, a bookstore that could (almost) reasonably be defined as "on the way." A visit to my credit union summons an image of Bargain Books down Central Avenue. I troll all four used CD stores in town on a regular basis.

Now that's over for one month. No more responding to urgent sale e-mails from Arkiv Music, my favorite online classical site. No more bored drop-ins on Amazon to nab a long-forgotten book from childhood that just popped into my mind. No more purposeless ambles over to Barnes and Noble after lunch at Earth Fare. I'm not going to purchase, order or download anything for 31 days.

Why? I could say something about the way so many of Earth's resources are depleted to make these things, sometimes under unsavory labor conditions. (Though I try to avoid contributing to that problem by purchasing used items when I can.) But the main reason is that I have enough stuff.

Americans are the most acquisitive culture in Earth's history, and most of us are never satisfied with what we have: My own want list of unbought books, CDs and DVDs has 120 items on it now. I need to learn to be happy with the music and movies and literature I already own, especially when I have so doggone many.

The thrill of discovery has turned into obsession. And though it can have beneficial consequences -- I give all the items I don't keep to the public library or a college music library -- I need to curb my indulgence. I may come out of my self-imposed fast with a buying spree on August 1, but I hope to be a changed man instead.

9 comments:

20-something said...

What's a CD?

Anonymous said...

Technology is your friend. Buy a Kindle and a Roku. Join Netflix and Spotify. Problem solved.

freddy said...

I feel your pain, Lar. But I've been in remission for awhile now. I went through a mad DVD collecting phase years ago, then saw the entire collection become virtually worthless (to me) when HD and Blu-ray offered a far superior way to watch movies and TV shows.

Now, I rent. Netflix is your friend. As for books, thank goodness they haven't closed down all the libraries yet. But the way things are going with the austerity hawks in all branches of government, it's only a matter of time. Somewhere, some place, a rich guy is paying too much in taxes.

Anonymous said...

I stopped collecting books and DVD's when i had to do my 3rd or 4th move in as many years. I gave almost all of my books away to the library to sell. I now love, love, love my kindle and belong to Blockbuster for movies. There are very few DVD's that I HAVE to own.

tomt said...

I appreciated what you are saying but any comparison to the tragedy of addiction to drugs is inappropriate and does not belong in the newpaper. Addicts and family memebers who have suffered through this do not appreciated the idea of making light of crack addiction as it is a life-threatening problem. Collecting cd's and dvds and books is (me too)

Anonymous said...

TomT needs a thicker skin and an understanding of sarcasm. I've lost young friends to drugs, yes death, but I see the comparison the writer makes.
So sensitive.

Anonymous said...

Let me know if you have a Havell copy of Birds of America lying around that you don't want! I know EXACTLY what you mean. I blame my parents for my book addiction. Back in elementary school, when that newspaper-print catalogue (Scholastic?) of paperback books you could buy came out, my parents overindulged my passion for reading and I could get just about anything I wanted. NOW, I almost always have a used book on its way from Amazon or Abebooks, so almost every day is Christmas for me! No Kindle for me...only the real thing will do. If you successfully kick your book addiction, let me know how you did it!

Cedar Posts said...

I have far too many books, and while and could archive the DVD's and CD's a Kindle, or iPad just isn't the same as a book.

More so an old book. I have Twain, Steinbeck, and others first editions. Moby Dick, Catcher, and Titanic which was published in 1903.

Grant's version of War and Peace his wartime papers and more.

There is something about holding a 100 year old book and turning pages that once may have been read by someone else.

Then there is always a surprise or two, once I even discovered a ten dollar bill from 1937. The bill remains in the book. Maybe one day someone else will be just as surprised.

The only thing better than an old book, an old hand written letter.

Augustus Gump said...

Oh dear, and I just sent you a book! I'm an enabler.