I couldn’t quite liken it to a religious experience, but I had a strange moment of clarity last month. Appropriately enough, it was New Year’s Day. I was going through boxes and boxes of fanzines I’ve collected over the last 20 years, trying to organize them, when a thought hit me: Why am I keeping all of this stuff? I contacted a few university zine libraries that very day, found one that was interested in my collection, and ended up donating about half of my zines. Just got home from the UPS Store to send five boxes worth, in fact. (If your zine was among those five boxes, don’t feel bad! Obviously I must have liked it to keep it all these years. And I strongly believe that they should be archived rather than binned.)
But that’s not all. Since the beginning of the year, I’ve also sold off a bunch of musical equipment. The Crestwood, MO Guitar Center got my Silvertone electric (with amp in case – man, I’m gonna miss that) and my Fender Princeton practice amp. A correspondent in Brooklyn bought my Tascam four-track, which I originally bought from my brother in 1998 when he needed money. Currently I’m selling my Suzuki Omnichord on eBay, and the bids are coming in quickly and furiously. I’ll keep the acoustic guitar that my dad gave to me at age 14, but everything else is going or has gone. And there are still more zines to cull, more records to trade in at Vintage Vinyl or Euclid.
This week, I also decided to stop updating my Young Marble Giants site. I’ve emailed Stuart to see if he wants to take over the domain and, if he wants, the actual web pages and photos. Not sure when that’s going to happen.
In short, I am getting rid of a lot of the things that I’ve been carrying around with me for 15 years. As cool as the Silvertone was – and make no mistake, I loved that guitar – I had to face the facts. Specifically, the facts that I hadn’t played it in years and didn’t intend to take it up again anytime soon. As long as I have one guitar in the house, I’m happy. But my seven-year attempt at being a songwriter failed, and I could use the money for other projects.
I wonder why I decided to do all this now. I have no plans to kill myself, nor do I know of any terminal illnesses I might have. I don’t think I’m having a midlife crisis, but if I am, better that it be a huge cleaning-out projects instead of the cliched sports car/Hooters waitress type of crisis. It may be that I’m finally letting go of 1997 and adapting to now. I was finally able to update to an iPod Touch 64gb with the proceeds, which is something I’ll not only use every day, but actually serves a business purpose for my writing.
But it feels good to do this. It feels as if I’m simplifying my life and letting go of the dead weight. It feels as if I’m updating my entire existence. That can’t be bad.