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900 Things: End of the Line

From November 2012 to November 2013, I embarked on my first attempt at minimalism (not even knowing there was a word for it).

I created some good habits, but didn’t ask enough questions about what would fill the space I was creating.

The project was called “900 Things.” 

On the last day of the project I wrote a final wrap up, warts and all.

I stumbled a couple of times during the project, it made it a bit of a tough road near the end. Having given into temptation once, I found it difficult to avoid abandoning the whole thing in the last weeks.

In September I gave in and picked up a couple of things at a horror convention. A similar thing happened in October at a big comic sale. I picked up a few heavily discounted trades (all on my want list) and a pile of 25 cent New Universe comics. This was definitely the worst I fell off the wagon in the year.

Why? I knew going to the sale at all was basically accepting that I was going to break my rules. I went alone so there was no social aspect. I made a choice and went.

I think my own nostalgia got the better of me. I didn’t go to look at the trades. In fact, I didn’t even go through all of the boxes of trades, I found 5 that were on my list and called it a day.

No, I went because I knew there would be boxes and boxes of 25 cent comics and I missed that part.

I missed searching for something. I missed having a list that was hard to mark off. I missed the hunt.

These days it’s hard to have the hunt. Younger readers won’t even remember a time when you had to go from smoke shop to grocery store to 3/99 cent bags trying to complete a run. It used to be hard-to-find comics. And if you didn’t get them in a 4 week window, you better start digging through those garage sale boxes.

New Universe is a great hunt. Not counting the odd Quasar or Exiles, there are only about 160 comics in the New U. Almost none are collected, the same ones are available digital, only about 2 are worth more than $1. I found over half the whole line in an hour at those 4/$1 bins.

The New Universe is one of the comic series that make me unique as a reader. Everyone has some series they feel like they are the only one who truly loved it. The New U is that for me. And after letting them go years ago in my mega-hard copy purge, I’ve found I missed that security blanket.

Where do we go from here?

As I wrap up the project, I am taking stock of the ups and downs. I didn’t pay off that credit card, as I think anyone could have predicted. The count out the door stands at 708/900. The rest of the 900 Things will go to a comic sale in February to help cover some of the podcast overhead. I did get to the 900 mark on my list, it just didn’t quite make it out the door yet.

I learned a lot about myself during this project. I broke those habits of impulse buying, I think.

Even when I let myself go wild, like at the Calgary Expo and in Chicago, I rarely picked up anything “just to read” or that wasn’t on my want list. I added almost nothing to the non-comic accumulation. A couple of Alpha Flight figures, a few Booster Gold and Jawa bits, a Babylon 5 prop replica that I will now treasure.

Everything that has come in is to add to my joy, not to add to my stuff.


Outside of the project, this year of change has been an interesting look at myself. I have relearned to treasure what I have in my life.

My wifey, my friends, my cat, my love of comics. I have taken the time to have the simple joy of listening to my cat purr. The escape of talking ape movies. Without the pressure of the next thing, I can truly stay in the moment of the now thing.

I’ve had a lot of healing over the past year. Remembering who I am, what I am, and why people like me.

I had forgotten.

I didn’t achieve all of the goals of the project. I stumbled once or twice. I lost sight, I lost resolve, and I lost ground. But I got back up.

What got me through October was something very small. It was one line in a silly pop song by an even sillier pop star. 

The line was from Miley Cyrus hit We Can’t Stop.

“We run things, things don’t run we.”

That little turn of phrase got me through to the end.

I started this year setting out to release myself from the hold that things had on me. I feel I made it.

The 900 Things do not run we.

Thanks for reading.

Keith Callbeck. Nov 3, 2013. Day 365.

Ω An earlier version of this post appeared at

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