In Which It Might Be Revealed That Canada, Washington and Oregon Are Nothing But the Land-Bridge Between Alaska and California...

The chief problem of having a zillion projects going on simultaneously at any given moment is allocation. While you might be concentrating most of your energy to one project in particular, you also may not wish for the remainder of your slate to grow completely stagnant. So, you try to appropriate just a tiny little sliver of time here and there for the smaller items, much in the manner of the mayor in the new film version of Horton Hears A Who who shaves off three seconds a day for each of his nearly five score daughters (and one son) with practiced calm.

Not surprisingly, writing has now become my main... I hate to say "hobby," so let's instead say... "area of interest." Where once I threw myself into my main sextet of collecting hobbies -- comics, movies, music, books, toys and baseball cards (with a minor in stamp collecting) -- since the move to California and a job where I can actually practice qualities beyond lifting heavy things and being able to multiply into four digits, I have discovered that I would have been a far happier (albeit different) person had I hunkered down and stuck to that which I had initially intended myself to be as a teen.

With the move, and with the change in personal concentration, has come the clash of my Old World with that of my New World, just like with any halfway decent historical epic. I ran off seeking fame and adventure, but once I finally started to settle in comfortably, here came my past. Soon, sharing an apartment equal in size to my old abode with a person who did not previously live with me, my massive pile of "stuff" showed up. Now, the varied ephemera of my past existence practically crawls up the walls like pop-cultural kudzu, strangling what little order Jen and I had made of our new home nearly to death. I initially made overtures to these old collections, organizing them in lists, even though I had no furnishings in which to organize them physically. Once I finished these inventory lists, though, back into the haphazardly arranged pile of boxes each collection went.

I would then dive back into writing for a nonce, and in several places on this blog, you would (had you actually been here) be able to mark the various down periods where there was very little in the way of writing going on due to my being hard at work crafting a list of Avengers titles or determining the best way to arrange my DVDs, alphabetically or by director. (A decision like that can take some serious consideration, which I am still wrestling with, actually...)

Eventually, money would be just plentiful enough where Jen and I could run out and get some astoundingly-cheap-to-middle-class-cheap furniture (hello, Ikea!) on which to begin the savaging of the cardboard box pile. After a good solid five months of this, the pile has seriously started to dwindle down, and all of this was achieved by my stopping whatever writing project in which I was currently involved at regular intervals. Cheap bookcases to get half of the two thousand books off the ground immediately, a rather nice oak shelving unit to hold over 1500 of my CDs, and finally, a pair of relatively inexpensive but quite nice, color-coordinated bookcases for eight hundred of the eleven hundred DVDs, with which we framed the area where we hope to have a big flatscreen someday.

And then, late last week, I took a huge step and ordered 30 short comic boxes. "Ordered?," you ask. "You couldn't just go to a comic shop and pick them up?" Well, calls to several local shops revealed short boxes to fall into the price range of $5.98-$6.50 apiece. Buy a pack of 10? Brings it down just a handful of cents apiece. I found an online company that would sell a pack of 10 -- same quality boxes (even brand at a couple of places) -- for under $15. Do the math. Sure, they get you with the shipping, where my UPS cost was just slightly more than my overall cost for the thirty boxes. But, by paying ninety bucks for the whole deal, I still came out paying less than half of what I would have paid if I had just walked in and bought all thirty of them straight out of the shop. I'm all about supporting the local shop, but I have immediate needs and little free cash. So, sod off, Comic Book Losers or whatever your various names might be.

The boxes arrived in short order (within a few days, happily), and so this weekend became The Great Comic Restructuring. I had to send, in my disarray and lack of time in March 2005, about half of my collection in the dozen-plus long boxes that I had used over and over for several years, merely taping them closed and packing them off to Idaho. The rest of the collection -- the more recent issues and various titles I had never gotten around to boxing or bagging -- I just unceremoniously threw into a variety of boxes (neatly stacked and supported, of course) and shipped away. Once they got here, it became a priority to get these things arranged in some manner, and so I spent a couple of weeks in December sorting and cataloging everything.

But I never really made a count of what was in any of these side boxes, and so I seriously underestimated my needs as regards short comic boxes. Thinking now, I should have multiplied each of the long boxes (all of which I wish to replace and discard) by two, which would have required at least 28 boxes by themselves -- we'll round it up to thirty just to rub it in at myself. Using the thirty I purchased just for the purpose of replacing these boxes would have left the loose comics untouched, which would have been an impossibility since the loose ones were taking up a large portion of the living room, and thus, needed to move straight away. So, I used my beautiful new boxes for the initial purpose I intended, and a dozen of the long ones still remain in their original state.

Boy, was I off, and it stresses my need to calm down when planning these ventures and really think through the details. I still need to order another thirty boxes. And right now, with rent going up and at least one of us on the ropes about their job, I am going to have to put this off. I wish we had the capital to just magically go out and spend thousands of dollars and grab every piece of furniture and type of container we need to straighten everything out at once. Of course, if we did have the capital with which to pull off such a deal, we would probably also be talking about filling up our very own house with this stuff, and space wouldn't be such a premium and time wouldn't possess such urgency.

As it is, while I did clear the living room, and things look ever so much nicer with my two-day comic box gangbang (clearly I was the one getting pounded), I still have a lot to do. I need to get about 300 or so title dividers. I need to buy tons of bags and boards to replace the old and take care of the new. I need to get special holders for my more precious issues, such as my ancient and decrepit copy of Avengers #1 (Tony, I still thank you silently every day for that swell present these 25 years hence).

And I still need to buy those other 30 damn short boxes...


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