Storage Implies Retrieval

I wanted to write this post about my experience taking my older brother on a vacation. It was an ordeal because he is mentally handicapped, nonverbal and I’ve never been solely responsible for him.  But I could not find the notes I took at the time. That is so frustrating.

I find comfort in collecting things. It’s a satisfying, solitary effort. When I was young, I thought I could start my own museum and people would want to come see my things.

I used to be painfully shy. I imagined that I would really be appreciated by someone who noticed my quiet coolness, who could look inside and see the true me. That was my attitude from a very early age and might explain why I was so puzzled when I received my own Valentine’s Day cards back when I was in nursery school. I put my name on the envelope and the girl’s name on the inside. Who knew? [1]

I was the quiet, thoughtful type. As a musician myself, I was the guy in the back of the coffeehouse listening knowingly to the folk musicians on stage. Today, I can imagine that I was perceived as a Venus flytrap waiting for an unsuspecting young ladybug to come by. Not a good metaphor. Flytraps attract their prey. I would have starved.

My self worth became linked to finding rare things, which was fine in my younger days. After all, I wasn’t collecting anvils.  I did love old Edison cylinders and the thick Edison platters. I was fond of explaining that the sound came from the vibrations of the needle which rode on the ‘hills and dales’ at the bottom of the groove. This I explained, was in contrast to the more modern 78 records, which shook the needle from side-to-side to produce vibrations on the wind-up Victrolas[2]. This was before electronic amplification, before vinyl. Now vinyl is no more, 78 records are relics, there are no needles and no grooves at all.

My 78 record collection became one big anvil, or should I say albatross as I moved from place to place. After I rid myself of my 2 wind-up Victrolas, and my Edison players, I had no way to listen to them.  But the idea that I had some objects that could be transformed into sounds unheard in many years captivated me. I still have them.

It wouldn’t be so bad if that were all I collected. I like to think of myself as Bogart in The Big Sleep, where the doll at the bookstore told him that he didn’t look like the type of person who would be interested in first editions. His reply was, “I collect bottles and blondes too.”  Just like me – except for the blondes.

Books are very satisfying.  I love them as objects as well as for the information they contain. Since I question my own memory sometimes, it is natural for me to want to keep original reference material nearby. This includes my own writing.

If you fast-forward many years later you might imagine my situation. I’m not as bad as Homer and Langley.[3] In fact, there have been many occasions where I partially unencumbered myself. It felt good, but I’m still a tad disorganized.

I mentioned my love of collecting to one of my wise professors, years ago. He told me, “Storage implies retrieval.”

‘Storage Implies Retrieval’ is my motto for the next decade.


[1] My Theory of Mind Mechanism was obviously underdeveloped at that time – see previous post on Mental Blindness.

[2] The term ‘Victrola’ is metonymic for antique grooved disc player.

[3] Doctorow, E.L. Homer & Langley, A Novel Random House (2009)

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