This weekend, I threw away something like 500 magazines. Maybe more. And when I say “threw away” I actually mean “gave away to charity/recycled” but still. They’re gone. And I know it’s trivial and stupid to be sad about something like this, but I am. I’m sad. Getting rid of those magazines was harder than I imagined it would be. Harder than you can imagine it would have been for you, I’m sure.
If you’ve been reading the blah-og at all, you know I’m moving. I’m moving almost all the way across the country, and as a result, I’ve discovered it’s far more cost effective for me to get rid of most of the stuff I own before I go, rather than paying to haul it all the way to Ontario. I own a lot of stuff – furniture, art, books – but none of it is really worth anything, except to me. I spent years collecting it all, sure. I scoured Value Villages and consignment shops and yard sales. And I love it all. As materialistic as that is, I really do love my stuff. But it makes no sense to move it. Spending so much money on sentiment is crazy. So I’ve begun the purge. And the magazine collection was the first big thing to go.
I had everything, you know. Or at least, I felt like I had everything. I had the Vanity Fair with naked Tom Ford, Kiera Knightly and Scarlett Johannson on the cover. I had Gweneth Paltrow on a 1998 Vogue. I had pregnant Demi. I had the Brad and Angelia spread in W, and endless copies of Time. I had a complete set of Glamour from 2001 to 2006. Ditto Marie Claire. Ditto Cosmo. I had copies of Jane, O, Butter and Bazzar. I had The New Yorker and Harpers. I had Esquires and Geists and lots and lots of House and Homes and Styles and Real Simples and Glows and Fitnesses. I had Fashions and Flares and US Weeklies and OKs. I had Subterrains and Avenues and AdBusters. I had, to end this ridiculous listing jag, a shitload of magazines. And I went through them all before I chucked them. And now I’m sad, because they’re gone. Sad and exhausted.
I work at a magazine now. When I think about that fact, I’m surprised. In a way, I can’t figure out how it happened. My job – my so-called career – seems the result of a random series of incidents and familial connections and meetings and luck. In another way, maybe it’s not. Obviously, I love magazines. I’ve pretty much always loved magazines. So it would make sense that I’d end up working at one. I just didn’t realize it was happening at the time. I didn’t realize what I was prepping myself for.
And isn’t that how it should be? Lately, I’ve been struck by the number of people who seem to want to work at magazines, or in fashion, or in design, who don’t actually care about those thing. They’re people who would NEVER have spent their meagre allowance of glossies, for example. They’re people have no idea what was going on in the world – in regard to trends, fashion or design - last year, let alone five years ago.
I guess there’s something about the nature of the industry. It seems glamourous (even though it isn’t), which attracts a lot of people. But even taking that into account, you’d think people who are really interested would take the time to get into the spirit of it all. You’d think they’d force themselves to take note of which decade brought which fashions, and how layouts developed and what colours could be definitively attached to what years and why. But they don’t. People are lazy. And as usual, they’re endlessly derisive about anything that’s too popular.
As I carried box after box and pile after pile of mags from my apartment, so many people laughed. So many people expressed how crazy it was. So many people gave off a distinct vibe of superiority at the sight of me and my collection. Having so many magazines, seemed to say something bad about me and somehow, by comparison, something good about them. At least, that’s the impression I got in most cases, which really shouldn’t have surprised or bothered me. Thanks to my job, I experience that kind of thing every day.
People are always weighing in with me. Someone will email to say something about how I could make my own magazine better, or they’ll stop me at a party to say how they could contribute so much to my publication, and in practically the same breath, they’ll say how much they hate mainstream mags, how they think they’re stupid, or dumbed down, or overly simplified or generic, and most importantly, how they NEVER READ THEM. They don’t seem to get how little sense it makes.
I mean, I used to talk a lot about how I hate the newspaper. (I do. I hate newspapers, even though I’ve worked for them.) But I based that opion on reading them. Not on NOT reading them. It just seemed more sensible.
Anyway, I don’t really have a point here. I guess all I’m really saying is that I would have kept those magazines forever if I could have. In case you’re wondering, I didn’t pay for them all. Not nearly. Some came from gifted subscriptions, others from old jobs, many I plucked from my building’s free book and magazine exhange. But I saw their value. I would have shown them to my kids, if I could have. They were like a snap shot of what we were like and what was happening, last year, and the year before that and the year before that. Flipping through them all at warp speed, like I did this weekend, was like going through a really speedy bit of evolution. Draining, but nice.
Alas. They’re gone now. And I guess, regardless of everything I just said, that’s a good thing. Saying goodbye to my life, and my things is hard, but ultimately, it’s probably best for me to get a fresh start. That’s what magazines recommend you know. Every second issue told me to clear clutter, let go of the past, de-stress and open my mind to the future. I finally listened.