Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Book loss

So far, everything's gone well with my move to Atlanta. I donated a lot of furniture to charity before I headed out, and am waiting for delivery of the rest of it. I thought it was very interesting that the first couple of charities I spoke to were reluctant to take my bookshelves and lawn furniture. The shelves were a bit worn looking and dusty -- they told me that they didn't want anything unless it was in "like new" condition, because otherwise they can't sell it. I think because big-box stores have such cheap goods, people don't want to reuse or repair items anymore and that made me a little sad.

The real tragedy of my move involved a bunch of boxed up books in a storage shed at the end of my driveway. As the movers start lifting those out, we find that the storage shed has had some kind of major flood - probably due to the heavy rains earlier this year in L.A. And the boxes are totally rotten. The books are destroyed. It's a total loss. Some of them were furry with mold. There's no saving them. They couldn't have looked worse if I'd thrown them in a bathtub and simply let them soak for a month or two. They all had to go straight to the garbage bin. This was pretty devastating to me.

I have to say about 75% of my books were lost. I have a funny relation to books, because after a decade or more of working in bookstores and libraries, I have (or should say, had) a pretty impressive collection. And I do get rather a lot of review copies from conferences, from magazines I review for, and occasionally for my blog, so many of them I got for free.

I had been meaning to thin down for the longest time. I was a little concerned that the books in the shed might get a touch of mildew, or something mild. I was not anticipating boxes of mushy pulp, some of them barely recognizable. Most of the stuff in there I didn't care about, but there were a few items that it really broke my heart to lose, especially some of my favorite kids books. I felt like losing them all was some kind of punishment for having too much stuff. If I'd gotten rid of all the stuff that I felt ho-hum about earlier then I would have been able to take better care of the few things in storage that I really treasured.

One item in there was my very first diary which I started in sixth grade. It's all mildewed and soggy. I decided to page through it one last time before consigning it to the trash. Re-reading it was the best thing I could have done. I was bawling with laughter, tears running down my face. So many of the things I cared about then were so ridiculous, so unimportant.

I took a picture for posterity. Here it is.

Oh, my goodness! Unicorns!

I don't know why, but finally tossing it away felt so freeing. All that stuff was years and years ago, and I've been lugging it around since. Very cathartic to let it go.


  1. Madigan, I am SO sorry about your books and especially your 6th-grade diary. ARGH!
    And another ARGH about your move away from LA - Atlanta's gain is LAPL's loss. Sigh... I wish you much luck and happiness, and of course will keep up with you through your blog!

  2. Thank you, Eva!
    I sure do miss the LAPL'ers, and I do keep up with your blog.

    You know what's funny?? I lost 75% of my books, but as I am in the process of unpacking, I realize that I still have WAY TOO MANY. Can you believe it? *shakes head in rueful astonishment*



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