I Have a Problem

There is this problem that I have. It is a weakness that I once poo-poohed in other people. I remember laughing at my mom’s problem of similar magnitudes. And now I struggle with this problem.

I am addicted to magazines.

I wish it were the fluff ones, too, like People and Entertainment Weekly and US. Those I could flip through and throw out as the mood struck me. But no, I have to be addicted to a whole different genre of magazines. I am addicted to “lifestyle” magazines. You know the ones – Cooking LIght (a free subscription for becoming a member of WHYY last year), Martha Stewart Living (such gorgeous photography and layout!), Real Simple (who doesn’t want to like a magazine with a title like that?), Everyday Food (another Martha publication), and the like. Fortunately, my subscription to Cooking Light should lapse soon.

And then I remember. I also read Dwell, ReadyMade, Metropolitan Home, and the Utne. I read Newsweek and Knitter’s and Interweave Knits and Bust and Bitch and Ms. as well.

I swim in my magazines. I feel guilt when they pile up and the energy to read them leaves me. But I feel more guilt throwing them into the recycling without reading them. For what if the Perfect Article That Will Make My Life Instantly Better is in one of those magazines that I throw out? And then I keep them, pouring over them carefully for some snippet of wisdom that I can carry with me.

At the same time, I get so disgusted with the product placement in them – with the notable exceptions of Dwell, Utne, and Bitch. But the same products that are being advertised in the pages of most of these magazines are the ones the magazines themselves are shilling in their columns. And that depresses me.

I fear I’m going to have to go cold turkey on the magazines pretty soon. This Memorial Day I have spent not thinking about the members of the armed forces who have fought for the United States in wars and conflicts both noble in cause and ill-advised. No, no. I have spent this day barrelling through the pile of magazines next to my bed, the pile that threatened to topple over this past week, after I’d added on 3 new titles.

And I am halfway through that pile. Far enough through to feel some sense of accomplishment, but also far enough through to feel just a little bit dirty. LIke I’ve got to figure out where this problem stems from, and like I need to figure out how to fix it without giving up my new-found sense of identity as a magazine-reader.

I am powerless before the popular periodical. I am weak. I am the marketer’s wet dream – the 30-something-single-female-with-disposable-income-and-a-house-of-her-own. People, I implore you to help me with this disease. Come clean my closets and take my magazines. Rid my home of periodicals. Cancel my subscriptions. Force-feed me literature and theory and dusty tomes from the library shelves. Free me from the bonds of the glossy goodness that beckons to me in the supermarket check-out lanes (for I know WHEN I succumb to the pressure – it usually involves a small tray of sushi, a half-gallon of milk, and whatever fruit is on sale that day).

This addiction prevents me from focusing on any writing that requires more than 5 minutes to read. And that, for a librarygrrrl, is torture.