catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 5, Num 15 :: 2006.07.28 — 2006.09.08


Back issues

I live with a person who is addicted to a legal substance, readily available and culturally sanctioned. If you were to offer him this highly addictive substance a thousand times per day, he would take you up on the offer at least half of the time. He would tell himself he’d deal with it later. He would tell me he’d deal with it later. And he’d be elated with his treasure trove, as if it was the most valuable stuff on earth.

My husband is addicted to paper. Not just any paper, but really good paper—newsprint, magazines, theological journals, sports pages, brochures, grocery ads—he’s addicted to the kinds of things he might find useful, later. He’s addicted to the intelligent printed word.

We hold subscriptions to the most fascinating reading on earth: Books & Culture, Prism, The Image Journal, and there are more. If catapult were available in a printed form, I’m sure we would house it, as we house materials for conference centers we don’t attend, for college courses twenty years ago, for letters we intend to write someday. Magazines from our respective colleges, from former employers, from our children’s school, come in the mail daily, and linger among the copies of other magazines discarded from the library, but evidently not too useless to bring home. It’s taken ten years of subscriptions to Utne before my husband agreed we could actually store some of the back issues someplace other than our living room. Copies of the Sunday news hang around for six months, at best before being carefully sorted for Useful Items.

When we married, I had a weakness for books and for toting around my twenty boxes of letters, journals, college notes and fun articles. One box housed Rolling Stone magazines with dear photos and articles. I struggled to keep my collection clean and maintained, and I always felt behind. I’ve probably expanded to thirty boxes, including my journals and scrapbook memorabilia. But that’s nothing, not really. I had no idea what I was getting into.

I sometimes say “we” because I love paper, too. I remember the wild gleam in my eye, the first job I held with unlimited access to the copy machine. “With this,” I thought, “I could rule the world.” I love to read and to share articles, also, and I’m crazy about some periodicals. I, too, have a difficult time watching a perfectly good copy of Martha Stewart’s Living (with some fabulous craft idea) go by at the library “free” pile. I finally cancelled the subscription to Interweave Knits, but it will take me years to part with the magazines, carefully marked with the patterns I will not likely knit this year, either. I tear into Orion when it arrives in the mail, before that partner of mine can hoard it away for himself. A careful watch of in-coming catalogs cannot seem to keep the pile from growing and growing. I’ve spent the summer hauling out at least four grocery bags per month of past editions of something, plus a van-load of stuff for the church rummage sale. There is so much more, though…

All this paper might matter less if we lived in a moderate-sized home, but we share less than a thousand square feet with our two growing children, who must also learn that “we don’t keep every piece of paper that comes our way.” We don’t? We don’t. Okay, daddy does keep, say, two hundred and fifty boxes of paper in the attic, just for himself, but WE don’t keep EVERYTHING. Sigh. We don’t!

Except that we do.

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