Friday, May 2, 2008

Digitizing my childhood

I spent ages 3 through 19 taping my life. I brought my old Grundig tape recorder everywhere I went. I have tapes of friends, relatives, TV sound samples, events, even ambient sounds -- just think: Copenhagen street noise from the Seventies!

Since I am now almost 39, many of these tapes are, well, rotting. I keep a dozen of them or so in a photo album-style storage book I got in Athens when I was about eight, and when you open it, you get an immediate whiff of magnetic mouldering.

For years, people have given me all kinds of advice on digitizing these. I've downloaded software, bought cables, purchased mysterious gadgets, all too no avail. I could never get it to work.

But now, everything is going to be okay. These records of my childhood are saved! And it's all thanks to the fabulous new birthday present I received from my parents, a toy I stayed up super-late with last night, and with which I plan to be busy pretty much all summer.

Behold:It's the Ion Tape2PC and I am in love with it. It's idiot-proof. You plug it into your PC, stick a tape in the deck, and start recording. It's magic. When I first clicked on an iTunes file and heard my own six-year-old voice coming out of my laptop, I almost passed out. Now the old tape marked "Christmas 1975" has been digitized, and if the tape itself dies tomorrow, it no longer matters. The files are safe!

I have been accused of being overly sentimental about these old recordings. It has been suggested that I should let these insignificant records of the past disappear into that past, and simply live my life in the moment. After all, does anyone really need a record of their child self singing "Skip to My Lou" while battering at an unfortunate autoharp?

It's a good point. It's just that those tapes meant a lot to me at the time, and I fussed about them a great deal as a child. If I just put a couple of months of effort into them, one last time, then I'll have them permanently and need never worry about them again. Or even listen to them, really. They'll just be there.

Meanwhile... this is going to be fun.