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"Hard is not hopeless." - General David Petraeus

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

There's A Down-side To Being A Bookworm

With the continuing downward economic slide, I'm faced with the great likelihood of having to go from lone-wolf status to moving in with a roommate to share costs.  In advance of that liklihood, I'm beginning to pack up 14 years of lone-wolf living into boxes.

This will be my third move.  When I moved from my parents house in Maryland to North Carolina, everything I owned fit in the trunk of my car.  When I moved from North Carolina to Arizona, my car was stuffed full (my poor dog had to jam himself in amongst all the stuff for the 2500 mile ride) plus have 6 or 8 moving cartons shipped to me.  In both Maryland and North Carolina, I was dwelling in one room.

Here in Arizona, I have had an apartment to myself for 14 years.  Five rooms. I am NOT a packrat.  I have been very rabid about enforcing with family and friends to NOT buy me knick-knacks (mostly because I hate dusting).  It took several years of training, but by and large I have finally broken them of the habit.

But I am amazed (and terribly depressed) at how much stuff you can accumulate in 14 years.  EGADS!!!!

The two greatest culprits in terms of taking up space?  My video collection and books.

I probably have about 300 or more VHS tapes.  I taped a lot of tennis matches during the Stefan Edberg and Andre Agassi years (side note:  there's a 5.5 hour match between Stefan Edberg and Michael Chang at the U.S. Open that I love to rewatch occasionally because as a writer, I need the same thing Stefan Edberg did to win that match--dogged persistence.  He needed IV's after the match but he got the job done.  I still glow with pride just thinking of it!).  Those are things I can't replace.  I also taped a lot of TV shows.  Some have finally come out on DVD and I can throw those VHS tapes away, but some I still hold onto because these shows still haven't been made available or the DVD's are too pricy.  VHS tapes take up a LOT of space.  Trust me on this.

But at least in the case of VHS tapes, I can eventually buy one of those machines (at least I hope so) that converts the format to DVD.  And I'd like to do that before the VHS tape quality declines.  Having VHS tapes also means you can't just store them anywhere, a big consideration here in the hot southwest climate.

But then we move on to the big bugger--BOOKS.  Lots and lots of books.  Double egads!  And this is a problem I'm not likely to ever solve.  As I posted in the last few months, one of the terrific benefits of Kindle is not buying paper copies of fiction titles, or even an occasional non-fic title if its one I'm not going to flip through a lot.

But as a rule, I have always bought much more non-fiction than fiction.  So while Kindle is saving me a little space, I still have all my non-fic titles and am destined by trade to accumulate more.  And since I'm always researching history for my writing, the books are not only many but those many are big in size (think the Time Life Old West series, or the huge tomes you first found in the libraries that are coffee table size books).

But boy oh boy, books are a BEAR to pack up.  But out of all my household items these are what I treasure the most.  I'll throw out furniture and gadgets before I throw out my books.

But I have learned to give up some books.  I used to buy some that I would read once but never touch again, say, a political book or social issues of the day.  It took a long time but I learned how to toss them.

Nevertheless, I can guarantee that after I make this move, I'm going to scrutinize each book purchase even more carefully than I already do and make sure I want to lug that next book to my next abode. 8-)


King J's Queen said...

Be sure to send me your new address after you move...or, give "S" permission to post it to the group.

We bought one of the VHS to DVD converters. There was a significant loss of quality during the conversion from analog to digital. We ended up not tossing any VHS that were important, while still keeping the new DVD format. Perhaps you will have better success.

My home library had over 600 volumes when we moved to our house. Slowly, I've reduced that by half, and about half of those are E's books. Like you, I rarely buy fiction anymore. I borrow those from the library. Good luck on your move!

B.K. Jackson said...

Oh rats. The loss of quality is a bummer. No doubt my VHS tapes have lost a little quality over the years anyway. Add the fact that I usually recorded on extended play to save $$$ and space, that probably isn't going to bode well for transfers to a new media format. That stinks.

But I'll have to try anyway. Eventually they won't sell VCR's any more, so I'm going to need it on a new format.

Cathee said...

So you're for sure making the move? VHS does take up a lot of space. You could check to see if there are any DVD's or copies of a few things like those tennis matches. Maybe even check some tennis pages to see.