Labor Of Love

The true meaning of Labor Day weekend has nothing to do with not laboring because you do that crap all week long. No, laboring doing something you love is perfectly fine. Why? Because I say so, that’s why.

For me, I started a Labor Day weekend tradition many Labor Days ago. Maybe in 2014 or 2015 I began building record cabinets for my collection. This wasn’t when I first starting building, that was back in 2013. I’d decided the buying of records wasn’t a passing fancy and that the tiny stereo cabinet my dad built in the late 70s for his Pioneer stereo set up just wasn’t going to cut it anymore. I needed to upgrade.

Back then, I didn’t have an Ikea I could hit up and purchase some nice-looking shelving for my records. And Lowes and Menards didn’t carry anything that would work well either(they do now as I’ve bought some for upstairs for the soundtracks, jazz, and rap albums I own.) So instead of doing nothing and being angry about it I drew up some plans for a record cabinet and bought some wood planks, wood glue, finishing nails, wood stain, and polyurethane. With the help of my dad and his circular saw I built my first record shelving unit.

Gotta say, it turned out pretty damn well. At that time I also went down the Discogs rabbit hole and started keeping track of my collection. This has become catnip for my obsessive/compulsive behavior. A place for everything, everything in its place. That’s some feng shui shit and I’m down with feng shui.

The cabinet building started in March of 2013, but somehow it ended up a Labor Day weekend project. An annual coming together of wood planks, nails, glue, and wood stain. Having that extra day tacked onto the weekend made it feel like the perfect time to give my music library proper living quarters. You take care of those that you love; your partner, your kids, your aging parents, your family dog, and of course your vinyl collection.

First cabinet built, March 2013

As a kid I loved Labor Day weekend. It was that nice break a couple weeks into the school year. You’d already done a couple weeks of educating and feeling awkward in a class with no friends, so that Monday off was a nice reprieve from feeling like an outsider at school. I don’t think my family ever did anyting, though I do recall there were quite a few Labor Days spent in Plymouth, Indiana at my aunt Brenda’s house. She’d have all of her siblings and her siblings kids over for hamburgers and hot dogs, then at some point we’d walk a few blocks to the park for the Blueberry Festival. It was an annual event in Plymouth on Labor Day weekend where they’d sell fried foods, hand-crafted junk, and maybe have live music or something. As a kid it was exciting as the thought of maybe getting some cool piece of worthless junk that would break 10 minutes into the car ride home, hand-crafted by a guy that lived in his truck was exciting. It was like a county fair without all the rides and carnies, but lots of fried foods made with blueberries.

Why blueberries? I have no idea. Why did a town in Northwest Indiana come up with a festival created around the blueberry? I’m sure there’s an easy answer, I’m just not interested enough to dig into that. Needless to say, as I got older that Labor Day weekend tradition got less and less interesting. The big crowds, the over priced handmade trinkets, and even the blueberry-based goods just lost their lustre for me. As an adult and spending my own money on crap I didn’t need, I understood my dad’s disdain for all things Blueberry Festival. He never went with me, mom, and the aunts, uncles, and cousins when we’d make the trek down Lincolnway to the park. Now I understand why.

So nowadays my Labor Day weekend is spent using my hands and building something I wouldn’t feel right selling to someone else, but would happily use for me. Me and my record collection. I’m no carpenter, but I’m bull-headed enough to pretend I am at least one weekend out of the year and this weekend I built my 8th cabinet(well, 10th if you count the two cabinets I built my oldest a few years back for her bedroom.) It went together pretty smoothly. There were a couple of knots in the wood that caused some nailing issues, but we got it figured out. And it went MUCH better than last year’s cabinet build when after I’d stained it and hung it up to dry it fell about 4 feet to the concrete floor in the garage and came apart in a most un-carpenter way. That was ugly.

Later today I’ll take it downstairs to the main vinyl library and spread out the records a bit. I’ll have some breathing room, at least until next Labor Day.

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