Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. ~William James

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Digging Out From a Backlog of Hope

What is it with magazines?

I've had a pretty bad magazine jones for as long as I can remember.  My mother brought "women's magazines" into the house when I was a kid, those glossy, colorful, enticing compendiums of promise and escape.  Along with an addiction to soap operas, I inherited my fascination with this slickly packaged world of story, advice and products.  And even after years of battling this affliction, I still experience a twitch or two in the presence of a rack of these alluring items.

While still living at home,  I went on to have my own subscriptions/prescriptions to Seventeen and American Girl so I could read "Great Advice About School," and learn whether or not I was "Sabotaging [My] Skin."  And, of course, "What Guys Really [Thought] About [Me]."

As a grown up, I subscribed to  
  • Redbook--containing more of same, plus mother stuff and house stuff and some pretty good fiction (until I got mad when I read that Redbook no longer considered me "young" after I passed 35);  
  •  Ms., until I faltered from feminist fatigue;  
  • Woman's Day, still pretty to look at and down-to-earth practical (though even the day is gendered, apparently);  
  • Writer's Digest (if I couldn't get down to writing, at least I could read about it);  
  • Poets and Writers (ditto);  
  • Prevention, for the hypochondriacal naturalist in me;
  • the Utne Reader, because it was smart and all-encompassing, and so was I, by extension; 
  • UU World, because the subscription came with my membership in the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, and it had cool articles;  
  • Real Simple, for the eye candy value as much as anything; and  
  • Vegetarian Times--again, more read about than cooked. 

(I did not, of course, receive all of these subscriptions at once.) 

In addition to my regular fixes, I relied on the following other sources:
  • Impossible-to-resist individual issues that called to me, siren-like, in my captive state in the grocery store check-out
  • Used mags from the free library exchange 
  • Mags nicked from doctors' offices, the gym, car repair shops, etc. (my only form of petty theft)
  • Used and past-date mags from Half Price Bookstore
  • Special treat purchases from bookstores and airport shops
  • Mags checked out from the library's vast stores
  • Mags tossed on the curb by more selective neighbors (I scored several months of nearly pristine Martha Stewart Living this way some years back)
  • Mags left in my house by the previous owner, who knew enough not to pack and move them
  • And recently, a brand-new left-behind copy of the latest Real Simple, found during deplaning from a nonstop flight to New Orleans. 
    After years of clinging to my treasured caches of old issues, I have lately begun to divest myself of this weight of print and images. 

    Confession:  I can no longer get through most magazines.  It seems I don't have the patience or the time.  Something is getting lost between the beguiling covers and the articles within.  They no longer deliver on the hope they extend to the enchanted buyer.  Month after month, and year after year, they are still selling organization, perfect skin and hair, inexpensive chic, marital bliss, weight loss, stress reduction, effective parenting, sumptuous and healthful meals, artistic and economic fulfillment, and community contribution. 

    Maybe I've lost the ability to suspend disbelief? 

    I've pretty much stopped being suckered in the check-out line, though my children still laugh at my familiarity with the latest celebrity gossip following my all-too-frequent trips for foodstuffs.

    But I've got a lot more chucking to do before I'm "clean."

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