If I Don't Save All These National Geographic Magazines, Who Will?

If I learned anything from my Grandma Stella, besides the best places in the house to stash my cash and how to construct atrociously offensive racial slurs, it’s that National Geographic magazines are meant to be kept forever.

By virtue of the honor bestowed upon me to receive such valuable knowledge by mail, I have made a pledge to safeguard their contents (in case of similarly hoarder-like posterity). To subscribe to National Geographic is to promise to proudly display and preserve them in a quarter-inch layer of dust for time eternal or until you lose the cat among the stacks.

I am in possession of a decade’s worth of issues, the last six years of which are mostly untouched. (There’s a joke somewhere in here about not having time to read about aboriginals since joining tribe parenthood.)

I cancelled the subscription just so I can stop saving the magazines.

As for the ones that are already here...

...In the midst of a deep household-goods purge, I pulled out each precious gold-bound volume and stacked them in a corner. They’d seen such little action the last few years, the least I could do was give them a change of scenery while I  determined whether I had what it took to relocate them further, to the recycling bin. When the piling was complete, I pressed my palm to the top of the tower and, for a moment, considered giving up everything else in life to devote myself to absorbing the contents of these wonderful, worldly periodicals.

There is some really important stuff I want to know about in National Geographic:

“The New Science of the Teenage Brain”

“The Genius of the Inca”

“Saturn as You’ve Never Seen It”


The holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year, for loading up the car with stuff to get rid of.

The space we live in gets smaller during indoor months. Add a Christmas tree, the spoils from family gift exchanges, my children bounce-riding inflatable hippity-hops in circles through the kitchen and you get me, standing in the living room yelling, “We have to throw everything away!”

It’s crowded in here. Stifling even.

I turn my efforts to ridding our home of all things that will not be missed. And other things I might regret tossing, but the cleansing feels so good I don’t care. Once I find my purging groove, I’ll toss most anything within reach just for the high of it.

When I was twenty, I had nothing but my Ford Pinto and two army duffel bags full of clothes and miscellany. At thirty-five, I have only a photograph of that beloved car and two army duffel bags, buried somewhere under a mountain of camping gear, maternity clothes, and holey wool socks I’m collecting to eventually re-purpose into a marginally successful Pinterest craft.

Stuff, stuff, stuff it in a box then stuff it in the closet. Build a shelf, buy some decorative baskets. Hide the stuff. Can’t find the stuff. Forget we have the stuff. Discover the stuff when I go on my next de-cluttering rampage. Be pleasantly surprised by stuff I didn’t remember we had. Realize stuff is still useless to us. Tell myself the memories that accompany the stuff are the only stuff we need. Invent future scenarios in which stuff would be handy to have.  Relocate stuff to new hiding place and come to grips with my weaknesses. Hope to feel stronger next time when I am surprised again by this same stuff and decide, finally, to throw it out.  

I moved the National Geographics to a different shelf on the grounds that, in the event the internet and library system fail, my children can use them for research papers. I also made a commitment to read them regularly, but haven’t started yet.