Recording History in a Garage Sale

garage saleWell, it’s been a while since I’ve posted a blog and I have a very good reason for that. Actually I have several reasons, the biggest being that I can’t clone myself. Between doing all my self-publishing workshops (which have become so popular I’ve now expanded them into Southern California), and working at the Park City Information Channel (I’m the Director of Program Development), and helping launch Sassypants Design (a funny greeting card business in Del Mar, CA, with my talented graphic designer friend, Amy Chin), I haven’t found time to uncross my eyes from the dizziness of it all. Let along get a coherent thought down on paper that’s even mildly entertaining.

But in addition to all that I’ve decided it’s time to move after 19 years of living in the same house.

I’m totally psyched about the idea of moving, except for the fact that I’ve spent a large percentage of my life firmly planted in this house like a potted ficus. As a result, I have more useless junk than artifacts in the Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. The difference being their crap is all catalogued. Mine’s obscurely strewn in non sequitur piles. So every time I go to look for something, let’s say the paperwork for the last time I refinanced my house, it’s like playing the “2008 Stacy’s Tax Return Edition of Where’s Waldo.”

But more importantly it begs the question, how the heck did I acquire so much stuff? Until I was about 30 I could fit everything I owned into a 1982 Mazda RX-7. Back then moving took less that a single afternoon, the bulk of which was spent stopping off at The Pannikin in Encinitas, for a quick java jolt, and to see if I could convince any of the local surf rats to help me unload my few precious items into my new abode.

Garage Sale to the Rescue

The album that started it all
The album that started it all

So to purge my life of the unnecessary articles of clutter I’ve accumulated over the years, like a shrink-wrap machine and a five-piece drum kit, I’m having a garage sale tomorrow. Because according to the laws of space and time I have several items that will not fit into a 1,000 square-foot condo, given all the OTHER crap I intend to take with me.

For example, take my record album collection (please!). I started buying albums when I was 12 years old, long before the invention of MP3s, or even CDs. The first two albums I ever bought were Carole King’s Tapestry and The Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. And I played them not on a stereo, but on my mother’s hi-fi record player (which, by the way, I wish I still had).

In short order albums became my addiction, so much so that today I own over 1,000 record albums, all of which I bought brand new before CDs took over the market. Sorting through my pile of vinyl reminds me how eclectic my taste in music was and still is. I have everything ranging from Cat Stevens’ Tea for the Tillerman, to Weather Report’s Heavy Weather, to the original Tommy by The Who (NOT the soundtrack to the cheesy Ken Russell movie).

garage sale
A great soundtrack to fall in love to

Given my pension (in my pre-parenting days) for traveling light, it’s amazing to me that I’ve carted those albums all over the country with each move I’ve made. For a long stretch I didn’t even own a turntable (I do now, thanks to eBay), however I hung on to those record albums as my lifeline to a simpler time, during which each album tags a unique memory that seems like something I saw in movie.

For example, Heart’s Dreamboat Annie album reminds me of my sister and me standing in front of the big mirror in our childhood dining room, mouthing the words to Crazy on You into paper towel tubes, as we pretended to be Ann and Nancy Wilson. And when I picked up Earth, Wind & Fire’s All n’ All album, I was reminded how Serpentine Fire instantly transformed me from a metal head chick into a disco queen. And then there’s Al Stewart’s Year of the Cat, which makes me fondly recall the innocent magic of falling in love for the first time and a teenage girl’s naiveté in believing, “This is forever.”

Should it Stay or Should it Go?

Looking forward to returning to a time when my life fit in this
Looking forward to returning to a time when my life fit in this
As I sorted through my albums, trying to decide which ones to sell and which one to keep, I couldn’t help but think this isn’t just a record collection. It’s a meta tag for my childhood and young adult memories; a timeline of my life, punctuated with the occasional Jeff Beck guitar solo or Steve Perry high note. (And yes, I fantasized that he was singing Faithfully exclusively to me.)

In the end, the only thing I accomplished by going through my albums is that I alphabetized them. And then I carefully put them back into the old orange crates in which they’ve been sitting since I had my apartment on the corner of Telegraph Ave and Durant during my days as an undergrad at U.C. Berkeley.

So yes, I’m still having that garage sale tomorrow. And I’m still selling that shrink-wrap machine, a drum kit, a guitar, a telescope, ice skates, a leather coat, and more hippy-dippy chick designer clothing than Courtney Love has in her closet. But I’m not selling my record albums. As my kids graduate from high school, then college, and get started on their lives, I’ll be moving on as well, once again traveling light. It will be just me, my dog, and my record albums. Which is perfect, because that’s just about all I’ll be able to fit into my Subaru Outback.
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Stacy Dymalski is an award winning keynote speaker and stand-up comic who gave up the glamorous life of coach travel, smokey comedy clubs, and heckling drunks for the glamourous life of raising kids (who happen to be bigger hecklers than the drunks). This blog is her new stage. For more of Stacy’s comedy check out her book Confessions of a Band Geek Mom available in bookstores and on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.

9 comments on Recording History in a Garage Sale

  1. I have all my old albums, too. Don’t ask me why, since they are in storage. Which amounts to me paying MONEY to store something I will probably never use again. What is wrong with this picture?

    1. I know, right? Some things I’m just too overly sentimental about, music being one of them. Haven’t I heard of a little thing called Pandora or iTunes? Apparently not.

      1. Exactly! Am I really going to pull out my old vinyl copy of Santa Esmiralda and dig out the dusty, old turntable instead of reaching for my iPhone, which uses airplay to my Apple TV, and on which I can access millions of songs for free? Not to mention the fact that my albums got trashed in college, so I’m sure they are all crackly and scratchy sounding.

        But I do love Santa Esmiralda…

        1. My only excuse for hanging on to some of my albums is that many of them were never converted over digitally, so they’re not on iTunes or Pandora. This is especially true for a lot of my jazz records or bands local only to Portland, San Francisco, and L.A.; places in which I grew up and got into the local music. And unlike you, I babied my albums so they are in pristine condition. I could probably retire if I sold my record collection. Hmm….

    1. Send her over, Jill. All clothing items $1 each. You can get her entire school wardrobe for next year done in well fell swoop.

  2. Holy cats, thanks for the walk down musical memory lane. I had almost all those albums at one time, but alas no longer. I was tickled by your local references, too — are you moving back to San Diego? We could go bowling!

  3. Damn, I envy you! Even moving out to a remote tropical island I had a hard time getting rid of some of my old stuff. With the result that now our en-suite bathroom serves as a storage facility for photo albums, old school reports and other mementos that I am too sentimental to get rid of. Oh well, at least we’ve got a second bathroom.

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