all of the selves we Have ever been
I pick up a new book, Buy Nothing, Get Everything.
On page 21, I come to a shocking statistic: The average American home is filled with more than 300,000 items.
Confident that I am below average in yet another category, I read on: according to a study of possessions in homes, there is a correlation between the number of magnets on refrigerators and the amount of stuff in the household.
Those words tear through my storage unit of denial like a Florida hurricane. From my seat at the dining room table, I eye both the overflowing bookshelves in the living room and the layer of magnets covering my refrigerator door.
I immediately go to the kitchen and gaze into my personal magnetosphere. In this new state of enlightenment, I realize those small advertisements and souvenirs hold more power than meets the eye. If they can suck that much stuff into your house, surely, they can stop a pacemaker cold or wipe the memory from a desktop computer. I fear for my visitors with metal joint replacements. After wrapping some yellow caution tape around my front door, I don a hazmat suit and get to work. I commit to clearing magnets from my refrigerator door.
Step one? Self-examination. Why do I have so many magnets in the first place?
Some are so cute and well-crafted that they look like real strawberries, bananas, and cookies. Works of art they are. And speaking of art, some of the magnets are actual handcrafted artwork—projects made by my children as Mother’s Day gifts 25 years ago when the children were small. It is hard to part with sentiment. There also a few magnets spouting funny and inspirational sayings such as the one black and white photo of a woman in a 1950s’ era bathing suit: “I’m one stomach flu away from my goal weight.” It was a gift from a friend during one of my many weight loss attempts. Humor, sentiment, gift, and reminder. It is practically a medical device for overall well-being.
But the majority of the magnets are business advertisements. I have 12 copies of the same magnet from a bread company reminding me how to warm up a loaf of their bread. Most of the other magnets came to me as promotions from now defunct businesses.
I get to work removing magnets…except for the really cute ones…and the sentimental ones. I put the remaining extra magnets into a plastic bag. I walk them to the storage closet to add to my box of miscellaneous items where I find more sandwich bags filled with refrigerator magnets from previous but forgotten episodes of clean-off the refrigerator. Apparently, refrigerator magnets can also wipe the human memory clean.
Why can’t I just walk my bags full of magnets to the dumpster? I face a dilemma. With my new understanding of the power of refrigerator magnets, do I dare just toss them in the trash? What happens when all of those magnets get buried in the landfill? Will they suck passing automobiles into the rubble? Turn the world upside down? Pull Asia up by the roots? Airplanes out of the sky?
I go to the tree of knowledge to do some research. I Google “refrigerator magnets” and learn that collecting magnets can be a bona fide hobby. There is no recognized term for someone who collects refrigerator magnets, but there is a woman collector identified in the Guinness Book of World Records. Her name is Louise Greenfarb, and she lives in Henderson, Nevada. Back in 2015, Louise had 45,000 unduplicated magnets. Dear Lord, how many household items does she have?
I dig further to see if there is a known ratio of magnets to stuff. I do not find the formula, but I do find a magazine for refrigerator magnet collectors called Collector’s Lot Magazine. Perhaps you have to be a paid-subscriber to access that that kind of critical information.
As I tend to do when I am in a quandary, I get back to my book, and I discover a new term: nillionaire. A nillionaire is person who has bought nothing for months or years. The book does not say what nillionaires do with their old refrigerator magnets, but they must have some strategy for breaking the force field. Until I unravel this mystery of how to dispose of my refrigerator magnets, I wrap them in plastic, place them in a box, and bury them deep within my storage closet. I vow to become a nillionaire.
Now, with this major reduction in magnetic force, maybe I can let go of all of those twisty-ties.