Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Thing You Do Not Possess

I spent a few moments this morning reflecting on a habit of mine. I’ve been doing it for years, but this is the first time I’ve actually stopped to think about it. And try as I might, I’m yet to figure out a reason for it.

Last Wednesday I picked up the latest issue of Previews. For those who have never stepped foot into a comic shop, Previews is a gigantic catalog featuring everything collectible that’s coming out three months from now. In this case, the catalog features images and promotional material for comics, books, videos, graphic novels, games, statues, magazines, and trading cards that are coming out in May 2006. Believe me, if there’s a geek factor to a product, it’s in Previews.

Previews is all marketing. It's one big advertisement that hypes up just how cool this new item is going to be. It's filled with solicitations that feature big bold phrases like "DO NOT MISS THIS ISSUE" and "This is it...the issue everyone will be talking about for years!" Every single new issue is better than the one that came before it.

This can be devestating news for collectors. It means that no matter how much you enjoy the one you have at home, the one you don't have is even better.

It's the same reasoning that drives people to cheat on their partners. Sure, your wife is great, but I bet that girl across the gym with the tight shorts and the incredible midriff doesn't nag. I bet that guy with the shiny sports car and big muscles will pamper you in a way your husband wouldn't understand. With so many potentially better partners, it's only a matter of time until you're neglecting the one you're with.

As I’m delving into the solicitations for what’s yet to come, the stack of comics I’ve already purchased is piling higher and higher. I currently have 23 comic books waiting to be read. These books are probably great, but I'd much rather fantasize about the ones I don't have yet and imagine how much pleasure I'll feel when I finally get to hold them.

There’s nothing particularly appalling about having 23 comics to read. What's appalling is that three months ago I couldn’t wait to get a hold of these books. These are the books I was salivating over in Previews in December. I couldn’t wait to see what happens to Selina in Catwoman #52, but now that I have it in my possession I couldn’t care less. Not while there’s teasers about what’s going to happen in #55 dancing through my head.

Catwoman #52 might be a fantastic issue, but the grass is always greener. That next issue looks so tantilizing, so mysterious, so unknown...it has to be better. Just look at it.

But looks can be deceiving. Just as the cutie across the way has her own baggage, every comic can't possibly live up to the hype and surpass the entertainment level of the one before it.

Recognizing this deception and fighting off its spell are two totally different things. Let’s face it, Previews features 400-500 pages of items you want. There’s so much possibility. So many chances to be happy if only you pick the right one. And lucky for you, even if you choose poorly, you can always pick again next time.

As I write this, I'm reminded of William Leith’s book, The Hungry Years. At one point in his memoir about a compulsive eater, Leith details what it was like to date a girl who was a shopaholic. The section is both humorous and sad, but there was one passage that struck a chord:

“This is the logic of the market, played out to its absurd endgame; the thing you value, is the thing you do not possess. The thing you possess is worthless. You are full, yet empty. You are sated, but hungry.”

This is essentially the crux of the whole situation. As a collector, this one passage puts it out there for all to see. I may love the hunt for that one cherished collectible, but once I’ve made that purchase, that coveted comic, that rare card, that piece of art means nothing. I have no interest in it. Instead, it’s that next acquisition that catches my eye and makes me eager to continue collecting.

Around Christmas time each year, my favorite brand of football cards hits the streets: SP Authentic. This year’s product was pretty hefty: I made a list of 50 Packers cards I want to own. Since Christmas, I’ve been able to find most of them effortlessly. But one card proved to be rather elusive. It's a Terrence Murphy rookie card that features a piece of his uniform and his autograph. For me, the card needed to have the right serial number, a perfectly centered graphic, a 3-color jersey swatch, and a legible autograph. So while I’ve certainly seen 100s of auctions for the damn thing cross my computer screen, I never found the right one.

Then, after months of waiting and 100s of eBay searches, I found it. Finally, the hunt was over. I watched it for the duration of its auction: six days. Every day I watched the sell price climb, first at $9, then to $11.50, then up over $20. But when the day came, I knew I had to have it and I bid more than double the price any other card had sold for. And I won.

Yes! One more card to cross off my list. I waited patiently for the mail day that would bring my prized possession home. Five days after the auction ended, I finally got the card in the mail. I ran from the mail box up to my room. I tore into the bubbled envelope, pulled out the card, and…and I spent about five seconds looking it over for imperfections before laying it on my bookcase to be later stored in one of my boxes of football cards.

That’s it. All that hunting, all that money, all those visits to eBay. For what? About five seconds of enjoyment. Hell, enjoyment? Can you call five seconds of inspection enjoyment? Not really.

And that’s not even the depressing part. Where this really gets sad is when you learn what I did after putting down the card. I sat at my computer, jumped online, and did another search for the cards remaining on my list. And guess what? I found another card to watch. An Aaron Rodgers autograph card. One with a perfectly centered autograph. Finally! The card I’ve been looking for was in my sights.

How can this be? How can a hunter be so eager and excited during the hunt, only to feel nothing when he finally takes home his prey? How can I place so much importance on one object only to consider it insignificant once I actually have it in my possession?

I don’t have the answer to those questions. I doubt I ever will. But I can guarantee it’ll be a question I ask myself again.

No, I might not have the answers I’m looking for, but at least I can take solace in what I do have: a list of comics coming out in May. Comics with storylines I’m really excited about and simply MUST NOT MISS! And if I’m lucky, maybe I’ll get around to actually reading the books I already have.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Nonfiction Friction

Had a little “writers date” this morning with my wife. We enjoyed some authentic and oh so delicious crepes at Crepes ‘n Crepes before heading to the downtown Tattered Cover Book Store for a book signing and author Q&A.

For those who haven’t had the pleasure of shopping for books in Denver, the Tattered Cover is one of the best independent bookstores in America. Aside from having an amazing selection, each store has a friendly staff of book readers who are genuinely concerned about their customer’s satisfaction. How refreshing. And the store has this unmistakable atmosphere of creativity. You just know other writers and readers and artists shop there. I could easily spend a whole day and a whole paycheck at any of the three Tattered Cover stores. And even if I have neither, I still find it impossible to leave without buying at least one book.

Today was no different. I was perusing the new non-fiction shelf—which I’m doing more and more these days—and found The Wal-Mart Effect by Charles Fishman. It details how Wal-Mart has changed America’s economy and the way we shop. The blurb on the back made the book seem both interesting and educational. But perhaps what really struck me wasn’t the content but that minimalist cover. It was sharp. Clean. And it begged for me to take it home.

It’s a nonfiction book with no real commercial ties, so I doubt it’ll ever have any monetary value. And because there’s a good chance I won’t read it until years after it’s published in paperback, there was no good reason for me to spend the $25 right then and there.

My mind pushed these notions away with hardly a glance, as if I were shooing away a fly that wasn’t particularly annoying. Before I had even made a decision to buy it, I was looking at the dust jacket of each book on the shelf (there were three) and opening each just enough to hear which one had the tightest spine (I just love that creaking groan of a tight book).

After choosing one, I second-guessed myself before I managed to take even a step. And if there’s even a seed of doubt, I’ve learned that it’s better not to fight it. So I went through the whole process a second with the two best copies and determined that, yes, I was indeed right the first time.

My prize under my arm, I peaked around the corner, scanning the area for my wife. Ah, there she is over by the…oh wait, look, another stack of The Wal-Mart Effect. I made short work of the four copies and pronounced them unfit to supplant the current copy as the one that would make my own.

Later, when we pulled up to our townhouse, our writers date complete, I turned the book over in my hand. My eyes immediately found a scratch-like indentation on the back cover just below the bar code, only visible with the book titled just so.

“Oh no,” I said.

“What happened?” Stephanie asked. I showed her the back cover. When she didn’t notice the problem as quickly as she should have, I pointed it out to her. Then she gave me that look. The one she uses when she’s humoring my inner-collector. The one where she rolls her eyes without rolling her eyes and shakes her head without shaking her head. “Don’t worry, Dear. It’s a nonfiction book. It’ll never be worth anything.”

“So! That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have a pristine copy,” I said, looking over the dust jacket to see if I had missed any other blemishes. But she wasn’t listening. She was already on her way to the front door. Which was fine, because I wasn’t there either. No really. No, I was already upstairs putting a protective Bro-Dart on the dust jacket, hoping it would cover up that imperfection.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Red Sonja Redux

A funny thing happened to me at the comic shop this afternoon. I was there to pick up the latest Previews catalog and the new Supergirl (no, that’s not the funny part). As I was scanning the titles on the shelf, guess what I saw? Yep, last week’s Red Sonja #6 in all of its orange glory. It was nothing more than instinct that drove me to pick up the stack of books, scrutinize each copy, and select the best one.

When I put down those that didn’t make the grade, I realized I was about to put myself through the exact same thing I went through on Sunday. With only the slightest hesitation, I put that NM copy with the others. And as I paid for my two books, I didn’t even give it a second thought. (Well, okay, maybe I did second guess myself, but at least I didn’t act on those thoughts.)

Funny, huh?

Uncle Sam vs. The Collector: A Preview

For the first time in our lives, my wife and I owe the IRS. (And here I thought we were supposed to save money in taxes as a married couple.) Not that big a deal, right? People all over the country owe Uncle Sam this time of year. But it totally came out of left field. We weren't expecting it. And like many young couples, we don't have three grand to be tossing around just because TurboTax says we need to.

To solve the problem, we only have two options. Both of them bad.

The first solution would be to put it on our credit cards. As newlyweds this close to paying off our debt, that's not a good idea. And for a collector, having the debt monkey on your back can haunt you for a very, very long time.

The other option is to tighten up our already tight budget. This means canceling plans for traveling on our first anniversary. That blows, but postponing a trip can be done with little hassle. No, what will really be difficult is trying to shut down the collector's mentality enough so we can save the money. That should be fun.

Books. Comics. Art. Football cards. Something has to give.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Weekend Expense Report

According to my Quicken account, I’ve spent 51.95% of my discretionary income on collectibles since November 1, 2005. That total would increase by more than 10% if you added my recent first edition pickups. But lucky for me, I’ve hidden those purchases in the “entertainment” category.

This means that, after we pay all of our bills, fill our cars with gas, and put food on our plates, over half of the remaining money is used to put comics and football cards into plastic sleeves and cardboard boxes.

Let’s take a look at this weekend’s expense report, shall we?

  • $20.00—First edition of It’s Superman.

  • $73.20—Comic book order for comics shipping in March.

  • $25.50—Brady Poppinga SP Authentic football card #/25.

  • $08.11—Three Uncanny X-Men comics.

That’s a grand total of $126.81 spent on collectibles. Compare that to the $17.81 I spent having lunch and seeing a movie with friends. You know, enjoying a social life.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Red Sonja Debate

Saturday night I pulled Uncanny X-Men #469 from my stack of unread comics. As I sat down to read it, I paused to take in the cover. It’s a great Billy Tan image of the team; a little too Manga, maybe, but still pretty to look at. Then it hit me: Wait a minute! Wasn’t Chris Bachalo doing the art for the final chapter of the arc?

Uh oh!

I quickly opened my Collectorz Comic Database and found the last entry for Uncanny X-Men. My worst fear was realized. I had somehow forgotten to buy issue #468.


I plopped back against my chair with a sigh. Crap! For the next 15 minutes, I scoured my files, emails, and order forms, trying to figure out what happened. It was pretty obvious I was to blame. I hadn’t ordered it, and when I Googled the issue, I remembered seeing it on the shelf at the comic shop…and then leaving it there because I knew I had already pre-ordered it, just as I always did.

What was I going to do? There weren’t any comic shops open that late, and I certainly couldn’t read the current issue without knowing what happened previously. I was stuck…but not for long.

When the clock struck noon on Sunday and All C’s opened their doors for business, I was there to correct my mistake. Finding the issue I needed was a piece of cake. And adding a couple of other Bachalo books only took an extra couple of minutes. So why did I spend over 30 minutes in the shop? Red Sonja.

When I saw the Billy Tan cover to Red Sonja #6 on my way to the cashier, I immediately craved it. I knew the first few issues were tucked away in the dark recesses of my closet. I never read them, but just like this issue, they sported some great covers. (A sexy warrior in a metal bikini? What’s not to like?) But as I flipped through the latest chapter, I knew that in order to get it, I’d have to go to the stacks and buy issues #4 and #5 or I’d run into the same problem that led me to the store in the first place.

I left the new issue on the shelf and headed to the back issues. I found the earlier issues easily enough, but was the Tan cover worth the cover price of three issues? Eh, probably not. But I had better go back to make sure. So back to the new releases I went. And sure enough, that cover was indeed worth it. Sonja bathing under a warm orange sun…it would fit perfectly in my collection.

Then again, I already had $9 worth of books in my hand, and I only came for one issue. I didn’t want to double that for three books I’d never read, did I? No, of course not. That’s silly. Yet I still drew up short as I made my way to the register. Maybe I’d give those other Red Sonjas another chance. Maybe they didn’t really jump out at me because I was in too much of hurry. Besides, what’s another few bucks?

With that, I went through the whole process again. I quickly found a nice copy of #5, but a perfect #4 was more elusive. Ah, there it is. But wait a second. Didn’t Marc Silvestri do an even better cover than this Eduardo Risso? I mean, if I’m going to fork over three bucks for a cover, it should be the cover I want most, right? Hell, who needs these issues any way? The one I want is on the new release wall.

So I headed back one more time to the current books and flipped through #6, but damn it, none of the Tan covers were flawless. Two had dings on the lower spine corner, and the other two had almost imperceptible creases on near the title. Sure, you could only see those miniscule wrinkles in the right light, but to me they screamed defect!

Still I debated. Maybe I—but no. No more. I had had enough. I’m a grown man. I don’t need to debate for an hour over a fucking comic book. It’s ridiculous. If I wasn’t picking up the other two, I didn’t need this one either.

On my way home, my three issues of Uncanny X-Men safe and secure on the seat next to me, I flashed on one final image of that stack of Red Sonja #6. Was that a hint of orange sticking out at the bottom? If so, that could only mean one thing: There was one last Tan cover I hadn’t inspected…

Saturday, February 18, 2006

The Wagon

I placed my monthly comic order with Discount Comics Book Service 16 days ago. I’ve used the delivery service six times. With each order, the total cost has steadily increased. After all, the more I bought, the more I saved. Until I found myself shelling out $107.60 for a month’s worth of reading material—a far cry from the day I placed my first order of $57.92.

The madness had to stop. So this time I made a resolution: no more monthly issues. I’ve outgrown that habit. I much prefer the collected format anyway: no more ads, no more holes in my collection, and certainly no more sleepless nights worrying about spine creases. Plus, what about the money I’ll be saving? No more doubling up on stories I enjoy so much I have to buy both the monthly issues and the collected volumes.

So on Feb. 2, 2006, I placed my first order with nothing but trades and original graphic novels. The cost? $84.99 shipped. A bit high, perhaps, but not nearly as bad as it could’ve been. I was satisfied with my order and I stood behind my decision, even going so far as celebrating by posting on my favorite forums. “Hey, everyone, look at me. I’m free.”

I celebrated my newfound freedom for two weeks. That’s when I tempted fate. “I’m strong enough,” I thought. “How can a little window shopping hurt?” I asked. With a deep breath, I scrolled through the DC and Marvel solicitations for comics shipping in May. My eyes lit up: all those stories, all those potential key issues, all those epic battles, gripping cliffhangers, and perfect female posteriors.

I wanted them. All of them.

But I resisted. I made the right decision when I placed my order and there was no turning back. I would prevail! I closed the solicitations and lived to fight another day.

Now, only forty-five minutes ago, I finished reading All Star Superman #2. It was a wonderful, refreshing read. It’s how all comics should be. With a slight smile on my face, I gently slid the issue into its Mylar sleeve (with acid free backing board, of course) and placed it behind the previous issue in my box of DC comics. I returned to my desk and calmly accessed the DCBS web site, signed in, and placed a copy of Daredevil #84 in my basket. Then a copy of Uncanny X-men #472.

By then, my hands were shaking. With each book I added, my breathing came quicker, but shallower. By the time I added that 12th issues, my heart was racing. The dark side beckoned and I heeded the call.

I added a 13th book: Bite Club #1. That one struck a chord. It didn’t seem right; didn’t fit the scheme.

My mind screamed, “You’ll never read that book. Why are you buying it?”

“The cover,” a voice replied. “Look at that cover. Besides, it’s only another $2.”

Before I had a chance to debate, I moved the cursor to the bottom of the screen, clicked the Place Order button, and fell off the wagon.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A Lack of Focus

So I’m sitting here, work piling up all around me, searching abe.com for hardcover first editions of In Cold Blood by Truman Capote and Capote by Gerald Clarke. I’m scrutinizing the descriptions, looking for the best copy at the best price. It’s not an easy process, one that entails several phases and many hours before I find that perfect copy I will eventually call my own.

After spending about 30 minutes on the preliminary search—the first phase of the hunt that gives me an idea of the general costs and availability of a book in fine condition—I realize I’m into books again. Into them hard. I’m reading like crazy, but I’m hunting for first editions with even more vigor. And when I get them, I BroDart them and stack them on top of the others in my towering to-read pile.

As I type an email to some random bookseller in Iowa concerning the dust jacket flaws on his $35 copy of Capote, I ask myself, “When did the change happen? Why am I into books again?” Just last Thursday I was hunting for my next original comic art acquisition. I spent hours every night searching the web and asking questions and balancing budgets, looking for my next purchase. In fact, I had recently made a conscious decision that I was no longer a comic book collector, but instead, I was only a comic art collector. I vowed that from that day forward, I would focus on comic art and nothing else.

But now, only five days later, here I am already moving away from focusing on art and to searching for hardcovers. It’s not the first time I’ve changed my collecting focus, and it won’t be the last. (It's part of my charm.) But what’s disconcerting is that it’s not even the first time it’s happened this year. In fact, it’s the third such change in six weeks. I started the year focused on football cards. Couldn’t get enough of the things. Then I switched to old comics, researching and hunting down key issues from the 70s. Then I was off to comic art. And now, just like that, it’s books.

Good grief. How can my collecting focus change three times in six weeks? That’s ridiculous. If it was a passing fancy, that would be one thing, but I go so hardcore and get so passionate that my collection is sometimes what drives me in my free time. It’s what I spend all of my time and money on. So when I switch on a whim, it’s as if the past week or my last paycheck was wasted on something I couldn’t care less about today.

What’s worse, I have all of these feelers out for stuff to buy to fill the collections I was passionate about only a week ago. For example, I have 11 football cards on my eBay watch list. I’m also working closely with several artists or their reps to get a few more pieces of original art. And now, only a couple of hours into my day, I have several emails out to book stores for first editions.

Argh! If all of these come to fruition at the same time, what am I going to do? I’ll have to pick. And believe me, no matter what I choose to purchase, it’ll be the wrong decision in a week or two when my focus switches back again. Right now, I’d have no problem trading my football card collection for these Capote books. But in two months, two weeks, or even two days, when I’m suddenly taken by a particularly cool or rare football card or comic, those Capote books won’t garner the slightest glance as I walk past my bookcase to get to my card holders or boxes of comics.

A friend of mine calls me a dilettante. He doesn’t say it with menace—well, maybe a little—but there is definitely a touch of negativity behind the word as he says it. It’s as if he’s suggesting I can’t be a true fan or an expert if I only dabble here or there with a multitude of artistic outlets.

My wife, however, considers my interest in a wide variety of collectibles refreshing. She thinks it helps me lead a more balanced collecting lifestyle, which in turn helps keep me from burning out or getting bored with the same ol’ thing every day.

Me, I’m torn. (What else is new?) I like the idea of dabbling in all of these different art forms. It helps me retain some level of interest and freshness since I have multiple types of collectibles to enjoy. But I also wonder if I’d be happier with one really cool collection that I never deviate from. Maybe narrowing my focus, or simply staying focused for months instead of days, could help me appreciate what I already have.

But that’s a debate I’ve struggled with for years now, and I don’t expect any changes today. For now, I’ll go with the flow and enjoy my collecting moods as they come. And that means returning an email from a bookseller in DC and declining the offer for his copy of Capote. Turns out that chip on the lower back side of the dust jacket sounds a little too big for my tastes. Oh well, on to phase two of my hunt for another first edition.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

A Collector is Born

I was inflicted with the Collector’s Mentality disease at a very young age, even though many years would pass before I was properly diagnosed. It was the summer of 1979. It was a hot Georgia night. I was seven years old, and I had in my possession a substantial amount of money: two dollars and 38 cents. I couldn’t be happier.

That is, not until we piled into the car and made for the shopping center. There, my older brother, David, took me to the back corner of the local drug store and showed me the treasure-trove known only as the comic book spinner rack.

At first I was more interested in the plastic guns and coloring books found only a few feet away in the small toy section. But as my brother rotated through the comics, the spinner rack’s squeaking hinges kept distracting me. What was that racket? With his back to me, I couldn’t quite tell what he was looking at and the curiosity was driving me crazy.

I approached my brother and the comics slowly came into view. When I finally stood next to him, the tower of comics loomed over me. I froze. My eyes were so wide they could’ve popped from my head. I basked in the warm glow of the fluorescent lights bouncing off those shiny, four-color covers.

“Ooh, Superman,” I said, my hand zooming from my side so fast I was surprised it stayed attached. I snatched up a Superman comic from the middle rack, but before I could discover what lay inside, I noticed an even more colorful issue coming into view on the bottom rack as the spinner spun on its inevitable course. “Oh, cool!”

I bent over quickly, eager to grab the copy of Flash, but my eyes were already on the next prize. I was overwhelmed and began snatching them up at random. There were so many of them and I wanted to take them home with me. All of them.

And just like that, the Collector’s Mentality infected my system forever.

My brother’s voice broke the spell. “Wanna be cool? Try this.” He handed me an issue of Batman and, for the briefest instant, I saw a hint of the darker, more rebellious side of my brother’s personality.

The deep blues and blacks of the Batman comic he held out didn’t interest me, but I added the issue to the growing collection in my hands just the same. Doing so just felt right.

We were spinning that rack for what felt like days. But at the same time, it was only an instant. There would never be enough time to enjoy them all. So when David said it was time to go, I hastily grabbed a couple more that I really wanted. He looked through them quickly and replaced most of the ones in my hands with others he pulled from the racks. They were Batmans and Justice League of Americas and Green Arrows. “You’ll like these better,” he said. “I’ve read ‘em.”

As we walked to the front of the store, I couldn’t contain the smile on my face. I paid the man in the white smock and left the store penniless but happy. I had more wealth in my hands then my little brain could imagine. I had a handful of comic books and I couldn’t wait to get home to see what worlds lay between those slick covers.

Walking out that store, however, was like leaving a dream. Outside, in that muggy Georgia night, under the harsh lights of the parking lot, I realized what I wanted wasn’t in my hand. I wasn’t exactly sure where my happiness went, but it certainly wasn’t in that stack of books I held. No, what I really wanted was back in that store on the spinner rack.

Then the tears came. What I had in my lap was just a stack of junk, when what I really wanted was the other books I didn’t buy. I wanted the selection. I wanted everything else but the ones in my hands. The bitterness ate at my throat, my head, and my heart. It was my first taste of buyer’s remorse, and it wouldn’t be my last.

My mom found me sitting on the sidewalk, my feet in the gutter, my cheeks glistening with tears. Between sobs, I managed to tell her I didn’t want those comics. David had made me buy them. She scowled at my brother, took my hand, and we headed inside. And with the powers only a mother could possess, she persuaded the clerk to let me return the comics.

Yet the happy ending wasn’t to be, and the joy was short lived. With the drug store receding in the background, my heart crumbled as the Collector’s Mentality ate its way further into my system. What I really wanted wasn’t in my pocket—I didn’t care about the two dollars and 38 cents. What I really wanted was at that store being placed back on the squeaking spinner rack, where it would sit and wait to be snatched up by some less deserving boy who could never possibly appreciate it the way I could. How could I have been such a dummy?

Twenty-six years later, I sometimes smile at that little boy as he sits on the curb, crying over his stack of comics. But more times then not, I’m saddened at what I see. Not because I imagine who that little boy could have been had he never stepped foot into that drug store, or what would have happened had he instead read and abused and enjoyed those books, but because I wonder what could have happened had I only kept those comics…and stored them in plastic bags with proper backing boards.

Monday, February 06, 2006


I’m sitting at work. It’s not yet 5:30 a.m. The lights are still off because no one else is crazy enough to show up this early. I mean, who goes to work before the sun rises? But I like the quiet. It’s peaceful. I work best in the calm darkness, only the constant hum of computers to keep me company.

I have plenty to do today. My to-do list is filled and my calendar is double booked. Unfortunately, I don’t have any motivation. None. At least, none to do anything work related. As I sit here, alone, already on the clock, all I want to do is scour the Internet for information on the hot upcoming series by DC Comics or read about my online friends’ latest art acquisitions.

Just beyond those desires lies something I haven’t felt for years: the need to write personal essays. For the last few days, I’ve been spending time each night writing various memories of my collecting past. And as a long time collector, there are plenty of them. Images are pouring into my memory, and now that I’m writing about them, there’s no holding back. That first essay opened the flood gates, and now the memories are rushing out so fast that all I can do is jot down notes to remind myself to revisit that memory sometime down the road.

While I’m exhilarated by my newfound writing bug, I have to admit, it’s also frightening. I’m a little bit scared each time I sit down at the keyboard; for every part of me that wants to write about my habits, my addictions, there’s another part of me that doesn’t. Sure, I’m interested to learn about myself and to see what mysteries I might solve, but I also know that if I delve too far into my psyche, I’ll find that I really don’t need to collect. I’m afraid that I’ll discover that I’m addicted to hoarding and buying, addicted to hunting for more and more things to hoard and buy. Hunting and buying and hoarding not because I want to, but because that’s all I know.

Quite frankly, I’m worried that I’ll uncover some deep seeded truth and that I’ll no longer want to collect. After collecting one thing or another my entire life, am I ready to give up that side of me just because I have this urge to write? Is facing my inner troubles really worth discovering that I, to some degree, have wasted my life?

But maybe it’s not as bad as all that. I still enjoy my hobbies. In fact, on the good days, I love ‘em. On the bad days, not so much. So maybe what I’m doing here is exercising those demons so I can focus on the positive and relinquish the need to collect, so all that’s left is the good times.

Is that possible? Can a long time collector find peace with himself and his collection?

That’s what I’m here to find out.