Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Breaking a bad habit for the new year

     I hear the glossy print media police summoning me. The magazines on my coffee table are stacked perilously high, and a major disaster is looming.

     The postal carrier brings more periodicals each day, and I am embarrassed to admit that the time has come where they deserve a little TLC to avoid a tumbling accident of huge proportions scaring both man and beast. The resident cat is timid enough without sudden noise interrupting his naps.
     From the magazine pile’s point of view, they are tipsy like a good scotch in the cabinet that gets poured on a special occasion.
     “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” You recognize the quote from the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal, and it comes from Emma Lazarus' sonnet, “New Colossus.”
      Perhaps, that’s all a magazine is begging. “Pick me up in your hands for a casual perusal, if nothing else.”
      A new year is here, and I can’t let intimidation get the best of me. Who’s in control – the stack of magazines, or me?
     The truth of the matter is that the humongous pile has turned into two. Actually, three, if I count the one in the guest bathroom I rationalize away as helpful for guests in a new environment needing a brief moment of solitude. Besides, glancing at a travel magazine takes curious eyes off the dust in the corners, or a shower curtain in need of replacement.

     I know of folks that hoard years of National Geographic magazines in their attics. They have a collector’s trove of the world higher than the Empire State Building.
     It is valid point that looking through the pictures and articles in magazines from previous decades teaches us a lot about how society lived. It can be fascinating reading and reminiscing, or used as a learning tool with children.
     Life, Post and Ladies Home Journal were staples when I grew up. “Can This Marriage Be Saved?” was a column in the Journal that I faithfully followed as an innocent, impressionable kid searching for clues on marital intimacy, and it just might have been one of the sparks in my writing career, although I never could get the hang of plotting romance novels.

     Then there’s the domino effect, too. Once the table is cleared off, the dust will be ever more prominent on a sunny day, and that’s a chore that isn’t high on my list.
     Funny thing, I am one of those people that come and go with my infatuation for magazines. I get over zealous and subscribe when I know better.
     Like seeing the perfect pair of shoes in the store knowing full well I have enough at home to serve me into my next lifetime.
     Or taking out more library books in a moment of exhilaration when I find the latest and best right on the shelf?

     I rationalize that a writer needs to be a reader above all else. Excellent short stories, essays and features are examples to scrutinize and pick up what tips I am able to use in my own work.

     There is a magazine for every possible hobby, age group and lifestyle. If you don’t believe me, check the magazine rack at the supermarket.
     Take this fall when I had a terrible cough and cold that held me hostage. I lie on the couch and read about the Hollywood buzz and TV entertainment more so than I should own up, too. I couldn’t wrap my head around a book, and I was too busy blowing my nose to hear the TV’s news. Even binge watching had no appeal. My life was in a daze, and there was no other way to look at it.
     On glancing through the great vertical collection on my coffee table this morning, I found a variety of topics. I will break down my reading into four categories.
Interested in and will read carefully:
Kitty-tested and approved toys
Wines of the year
The Amazon publishing dispute of the year
Tips for taking fabulous winter pictures
Best brunch places in Rochester
Shouts and Murmurs in the New Yorker
The rise of Andrea Merkel, Germany
Not interested in:
Incredible gifts from $7 and up, and up and up
Ravishing evening gowns
The history of the panda in China
The smartest kids in the world
Glance over quickly:
Sexiest man alive - well, maybe I’ll stay longer in this case
Reviews of Christopher Walken’s dancing in Peter Pan
Hydroponic farming in the Finger Lakes
Recipe makeovers
Review of The Hobbit - I will make up my own mind
Always interested in:
A book review
Travel tales from exotic lands
Eli Manning, Angelina Jolie and Jimmy Fallon
     My goal for 2015 is not to take on any more subscriptions than I can possibly deal with on a weekly basis.
     I will phase out old favorites that no longer contain fresh topics and colorful visuals.
     All those frequent flyer miles that were getting ready to expire will not be put towards frivolous magazines that I would never spend the money on in the first place.
     I adore my young high school friends, but from now on, I will make a donation to their senior fund instead.
    I will recycle magazines where they will get a second chance at an appreciative home.
     Lastly, I will try digital editions.
     Well, I best get to it. Reading magazines, of course.