I had hundreds and hundreds of them, lovingly arranged in alphabetical order (except for blues, jazz, and soundtracks, separated by genre) and neatly displayed on wooden shelves specifically built for the purpose.
I loved the tactile sensation as I ran my fingers of the jewel cases, looking for the disk that would fit my mood, from Grant Green to Poison. I could immediately identify the disk by the color on it's spine and location on the shelf from across the room. I would pour over liner notes and album art with the same enthusiasm I'd expend on the "Week in Review" or the X-Files (before the whole Cancer Man subplot got out of control, of course). I'd buy the album, then I'd buy the remastered version of the same album, THEN I'd buy the expanded version of the remastered album. On a pie chart of my monthly expenses, it would be the big blue slice wedged between "rent" and "food", and indistinguishable in size from either of those.
Times change, though. The demand for apartment space grew while the cost of digital storage shrunk, and by happy coincidence I discovered the magic of portable music. I can carry a month's worth of music with me wherever I go (and I do) and eventually the shelves of music gave way to giant folders which gathered dust under an armoire. I embraced peer-to-peer file-sharing and enjoyed the financial windfall.
But what about all those CD's....
Enter "The Project"
Phase 1 of the project began in 2000, when I got my first little MP3 player--a portable doohickie that could hold up to 25 songs, with no skipping! That was when I took all my favorite work-out songs and made them digital, and swapped them out whenever I wanted a change.
Phase 2 of the project began in 2002, when I got an iPod. Not only did I have a reason to burn a LOT of my music, but I discovered a major obsessive-compulsive disorder: the need for accurate tagging. I spent hours looking up track numbers and correcting genres. I broke greatest hits albums up so that I'd have the original album and release years listed. And the album art...oh, the album art...had to be exactly right, even though I couldn't even see it on my iPod. It was during phase 2 that Oodgie initially questioned her decision to marry me.
Phase 3 of the project began in 2004, when I got a large external hard drive. So much space...there was no reason why I shouldn't fill it with ALL my music, right? Even the bluegrass albums! Who cares if it will never make it on my iPod! Phase 3 was basically a repeat of Phase 2, just with less popular music.
Phase 4 of the project began in January, when I suddenly decided that all that music wasn't a high enough quality, and I decided to start over completely and burn them all again at a higher bit-rate.
I bring them to work and burn them while building PowerPoints. I tag them during commercials. I search for the original Billy Idol album art while Cheeky smears strawberries into her hair. I waste time looking up the year The Specials recorded "Ghost Town," because I know it wasn't 1992 (it was 1981), no matter what iTunes says. I ignore my friends, my family, my blog, and my health.
All these phases have been contiguous: I've been doing this for 7 years now. And I'm still not done.
It's amazing to me that I can spend so much time and effort on something this massive--and ultimately unnecessary--yet can't finish a New Yorker article or take out the recycling until the 2-liter bottles are spilling into the hallway. I'll put an hour and a half into the Rod Stewart or Eric Clapton box sets, but I won't put 10 minutes into finding a good closing for a blog. (as you'll soon see)
What happens when I finish? Will I suddenly have hours and hours of spare time to devote to some new business opportunity or a novel? Or devote the energy to enhancing family life?
My guess? Phase 5.
Anyone else got an obsession worth talking about? **
* the answer to the first question was always, "just give me one and put the rest in the fridge so they don't get cold."
** see, that's a lame ending...a cheap ploy for comments. Told ya.