Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Dusty Covers

It’s approaching 11 a.m. and this is troublesome on several fronts.

First, despite a looming deadline on a news story and ample computer homework, all I’ve managed to accomplish is confirming a lunch date and starting this blog entry. You can see how productive I become from here simply by checking the post time at the end of this entry.

I’ve been sluggish in my work today, having nearly fallen victim to several meltdowns in the wake of my daughter’s 16th birthday. Now, the birthday itself was fabulous. Despite sustaining a second degree burn cooking dinner and nearly blowing the surprise portion of the surprise party with an ill-timed remark concerning my expectations of seeing one of my daughter’s friends later that evening, it was all a smashing success.

But really, how can I possibly have a 16 year old kid? I’ve lived my entire life under the premise that people with teenagers are just on the sunny side of false teeth and Depends.

Just last week the girl--I say “girl” because I assumed she was my age--who sits beside me in computer class mentioned her 20-year old son and I exclaimed in shock, “I had no idea you were that old!” Then I realized that I’ll have a 20-year old in just four years.

Computer Classmate responded with the news that she’s about to be a grandma. Unsettling though it was, I comforted myself with the thought that I have a solid four years before I had to worry about anything like that.

Yesterday, she let her age slip out during one of her increasingly frequent rants— giving us the stats on how long she’d lived without touching computers before she signed up for the class.

She’s two years younger than me.

Now math isn’t my strong suit, but best I can figure she must have become a mom when she was my daughter’s age—which somehow doesn’t comfort me, either.

The second reason why I’m concerned about the hour has just turned down my street. Right on cue, the mail man’s here. And I’ll bet he’s got magazines for me.

You may ask why this is a problem. After all, magazines are innocent enough—chock full of stories and recipes and glossy pictures.

I know. I subscribe to a wide range of wonderful publications--Art and Writing magazines….Travel…Animals…Cooking… perky little inspirational magazines—I get them all. Some are gifts from my husband. I’ve ordered a couple. Others, like Prevention, of all things, just show up unbidden. What kind of sick person sends Prevention to a hypochondriac? Like I need new diseases to prevent!

Problem is, I don’t have enough time to read them. At least as thoroughly as I’d like. See, often, I pick up a magazine and fondly recall this article and that picture—-but I still can’t recycle it, see, because I haven’t gotten all the way through it.

It’s an OCD thing. You’re cheating your brain if you don’t read the whole thing. I’ve already compromised on skipping articles that simply aren’t interesting. I’ve made peace with that. But toss out a magazine with an unread spread about exotic places I may never get to visit? I simply can't do it. Ditto for neglected writing tips. Then there's ignored plights of rare species, foods I might want to try--toss out an unread magazine, and there's no telling what you might miss.

Now, my sensible friend, Lori, says “They aren’t books for crying out loud—you don’t read them from cover to cover—you flip through and pass on!”

I make deals with myself. I set goals—I’ll read and recycle five this week! Do you know how hard this is? Now I can plow through a Reader’s Digest or a Guideposts in under an hour. The bite sized articles are manageable and I can work through a couple of those before bed each night, no problem.

But the Geographics and the Smithsonians? Meaty stuff. I want to read it. I know I’ll get to them all—even the issues that came in the week following the Great Purge of ‘02. The problem is, even if I could lower my expectations to say, two a week, the numbers are staggering, when the new arrivals are taken into account. I may have mentioned my lack of math prowess, but I think we’re dealing with statistical improbabilities here.

Which is why the approach of the postman gives me pause. I know my dysfunction will be exposed any day when glossies quite literally burst from my closets. I currently have high volumes of magazines stashed in no less than 7 locations around my house. We're well into the hundreds of under-read issues, but who's counting? I am running out of options.

Maybe I should start reading a new high end magazine that has just debuted in SoHo. The latest in boutique journalism, its features include blank pages! Even I could manage to finish each issue before the arrivial of the next. The sense of accomplishment I’d feel as I breezed through each issue would be worth every bit of the $70 cover price!

I think I’ll just be happy as long as postman isn't bearing a sample issue of Modern Maturity.

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