Each year, the middle school in Gettysburg runs a fundraiser for the PTO. They coerce the students to sell magazines and cookie dough. Each year, my kids pound the pavement, begging the neighbors to make a purchase. And of course, they rely on Susan and me to round out their sales to meet their quota. If they sell fifty dollars in merchandise, the kids can participate in a bounce house party. It’s the school’s trademark event, and it’s surprisingly good at motivating the kids to sell, sell, sell.
Sophie finished up her middle school career two years ago, and Eli started his tenure the year after she left. So together, we’ve had five consecutive years of fund raisers. I’m not sure how magazines and cookie dough got lumped together. I suppose some marketing type ran an analysis that showed people who don’t read magazines like to make simple cookies.
Susan and I are readers. In past years, we’ve opted for magazines. Every year, I order Runner’s World, and Susan rotates between Country Living, Better Homes and Gardens and Real Simple. I don’t really like Runner’s World. It’s ridiculously formulaic, and every two to three years, it repeats topics. But every eighteen months or so, they publish an article that is truly great. Usually first-person, creative non-fiction piece that is good enough to read twice—inmates completing a marathon within the fence of their jail; a runner staving off advancing Alzheimer’s with exercise; an abusive coach at a girls’ reform school. Insightful essays about damaged people. They encourage me that one day, maybe I can be published in Runner’s World. This is what keeps me subscribing year after year.
This year, Eli was uninterested in taking his coercion to the streets, he did his arm-twisting at home. I actually appreciate this. I always feel bad when our neighbors buy something. Since *I* never want to buy magazines or cookie dough, I assume they don’t want to either. They’re just doing it to be nice.
With just our family buying this year, we needed to buy cookie dough and magazines. And let me say, that cookie dough is freaking fantastic! We got chocolate sea salt caramel. And now we’re eating cookies every single day.
I’ve had enough of Runner’s World. I couldn’t bring myself to buy another year. Plus, I’ve learned from past subscriptions, they’re going to keep sending me the magazine in a “last issue” wrapper for the next six months. This year I ordered Time Magazine.
I’ve never ordered a news magazine before. I’ve always been content to get my news from the paper. But now, we don’t buy a paper, I just get my news from the internet, and I keep noticing huge holes in my knowledge. It took me over a week to read about why Harvey Weinstein was in the headlines every day. But of course, I read five articles about climate change every day. I figured that Time would round out my knowledge a little more.
My first issue, received a couple of days ago, is recounting the fires in and around Sonoma County. You’re probably thinking “wild fires, that’s yesterday’s news.” I kind of like dwelling on a topic a few days beyond the news cycle. It reminds me that our massive disasters, splashed across every news site, will disappear tomorrow. When was the last time you read anything about Puerto Rico… and they still don’t have power!
Time Magazine described how Santa Rosa resident Karissa Kruse awoke to flames rapidly overtaking her neighborhood. “She grabbed her cats and her laptop” and got the hell out. This got me thinking… what would I grab.
Of course, my first concern would be for my family. I’d make sure they were safe, and then my cats. But if I were home alone, no pets, no people, what would matter most to me. If I woke up in the middle of the night with seconds to react, acting on instinct, what would I take.
I’m a little depressed realizing how little I have that I value. Maybe it’s good. Stuff is all replaceable. My shoes, my bikes, books, furniture, art. None of it really matters to me. I don’t have a collection of autographs or any family heirlooms that can’t be replaced. Really, I’ve got nothing.
Like Karissa Kruse, I would grab my laptop. I spend hours with it every day. I write stories like this. I connect with friends and family via email. I link up with other bloggers using WordPress. It contains my photos, my music and my writing. I’m shocked to learn that my laptop, bought three years ago for $349, is my most important possession.
Subscribing to Time Magazine is already enriching my life. It has given me the gift of reflection. Maybe, as my house is coming down around me, I better grab the most recent issue of Time as well.
How about you? What would you take?