Storage (in which I stare hard in the face of the twenty-first century)


My apartment would be perfect if it had one more room that I could fill with books. Or, more to the point, bookcases. When I moved back to Cambridge two and a half years ago, I sold four or five boxes of books, which bought me enough space to last roughly two and a half years. While my poetry purchasing has decreased considerably, my accumulation of science fiction, graphic novels, and psychology texts has more than compensated (in terms of both dollar amount and shelf space), and I’m confronted with situations like this:


I’ve managed to figure out nonintrusive ways to get more shelf space (by replacing smaller capacity shelving units with higher capacity ones), but this latest shelving crisis has gotten me thinking about other issues, specifically this


I love my components. The turntable is from the very first component system my family got, when I was maybe 12. My dad wouldn’t let me touch it, until he realized he needed my help to program it. The tape decks belonged to my great uncle, and I bought the six-disc changer and the tuner. The speakers (poorly represented in this picture) are really fantastic Axioms, which were a birthday present in 2005 and which sound absolutely gorgeous.

But the sad truth is, I never use my components. The turntable needs a new stylus that I keep forgetting about, and the last time I loaded up the changer was probably October, if not July. The tape decks are reassuring, for sure, and I certainly like having them around for archival purposes, but that’s about it. And I have a little clock-radio that has pretty excellent reception, for when I want the airwaves. Considering that I have 19.1 days’ worth of music on my laptop, and some decent JBLs running out of it, it’s pretty clear that I’ve shifted to the laptop as my primary means of playing music.

And then there’s this:

as well as the grocery bag full of CDs that won’t fit in the rack. Something like 650 CDs, most of which sit in that rack that juts out just enough from my wall that I walk into it at least daily. That crappy unfinished pine rack, which has somehow managed to survive for more years than I can remember. Many of the jewel cases are broken, and they’re so heavy to pack, but I really love being able to scan the rack (like a bookshelf).

Getting rid of the rack – and hence, the CDs – wouldn’t free up much space, but the space it would free up would be liberating. But the options are so awful. I hate those nylon books – they keep everything hidden – and the idea of digitizing everything just gives me a headache (though from an organizational standpoint it is quite appealing).

What worries me is that I feel like I’m on the verge of a paradigmatic precipice, and I wonder if by jumping I will be sacrificing increasingly rare tactile and sensory pleasures for sheer lazy convenience.

But the CD issue is secondary, the kind of fretting that comes from not enough sleep and not enough food and too much time on my hands. Space is the key. I know how I can get more bookshelf space, and I think if I get rid of the stereo (“get rid of” = “store in my dad’s basement”) I might even be able to get a recliner or a loveseat or something.

Insert pithy paragraph here summing up the moral of the post.


4 Responses to “Storage (in which I stare hard in the face of the twenty-first century)”

  1. 1 David

    Pity me or don’t, either way, there came a day when my 5 disc changer wasn’t versatile enough for my play-list arrangement preferences.

    On that day, I moved my album collection into the computer (this was a few years ago) and never looked back. In fact, haven’t purchased music in hard copy since then.

    While I do miss the tactile experience of flipping through the CD jacket when I first open the cd case, I don’t miss the storage and portability related issues.

  2. Good to know. Did you save all the booklets?

  3. 3 Kevin

    I have similar issues at my place. The compact discs were getting out of control, and though it took me the better part of a year, I digitized all of them and now they’re in storage units in the basement (I’ve got about 60 important ones, mostly box sets, in my living room for emergency purposes), which allowed me to convert the disc shelves to bookshelves, which has solved the “more books than shelves” problem (for now at least, along with buying a new shelf for the bedroom and attempting to do a book culling which resulted in our giving away a total of, uh, six books. Heh.) Transferring the CDs to the basement is something I’ve never regretted.

    I’ve also got a component unit in the living room which I almost never touch, except when guests are over I occasionally use it to play one of the 60 important compact discs. Sad to say, the turntable gets almost no use. My 12″ records are in my parents’ basement and my 7″ singles are stacked in milk crates in my closet. Not sure how many I have of either, but it’s over 1000. I have one of those usb turntable things and I really need to start transferring the stuff I can’t find to a digital format as well, so I can sell the records. File under: projects I have absolutely no time for. Would love to get one of those swanky Tivoli units to replace the components, but they’re a bit more than I’m willing to spend on something I almost never use. Most of my music listening is done using one of those iPod sound dock things.

  4. I think what I might do is get the component unit out of here (back to my father’s house) while I’m fooling around with bookshelves and filing cabinets and other storage-related furniture. I’m reasonably confident that if I get rid of the stereo I can fit some comfy sitting furniture in its place, which is a big attraction. Once I’ve worked that out I’ll see about reintroducing the components, or some of them, anyway.

    This doesn’t solve the CD issue, of course.

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