Dan got ambitious last Friday night and tackled one of the numerous projects on our ever-growing list of Things to Do So That We May Have a Perfect Life. The project? Organizing and alphabetizing our CD collection.

One would think this would be much more of a Cathy kind of job, given my penchant for order and my fondness for being able to locate Journey's Greatest Hits with minimal profanity because JESUS, MARY AND JOSEPH, WHERE THE HELL IS IT? I NEED TO HEAR "STONE IN LOVE!".

Yes, one would think, but one would be wrong. For all the order-lovin' genes camped out in my DNA, CD and album organizing just aren't part of my unique genetic sequencing.

Dan, surprisingly, does have the CD and album organization gene, and it became increasingly clear as he went from room to room, gathering renegade CDs and letting his highly refined classification skills whip their asses into alphabetical submission.

Now, before you get this image of one glorious wall of CDs from A to Z, you should know this: we keep them in three areas.

Area 1: an IKEA CD tower in my office that holds Abba's Gold through Jools Holland's Big Band Rhythm & Blues.


Area 2: the place where the actually CD player resides (i.e. the logical place) that holds Janet Jackson's The Velvet Rope through the Stray Cats' Runaway Boys: A Retrospective '81 to '92.


And last but not least, Area 3: The wrought iron CD tower that Dan says "doesn't take up any valuable living space so why in God's name would we need to get rid of it?", and covers The Strokes' Room on Fire through Neil Young's Decade.



I made the mistake of asking him if we could find a way to do just that—get rid of the CD tower. I asked, "Couldn't we clear out some of the photo albums on the other side of the fireplace and put those CDs up in the empty space?"

This was when Dan once again presented the Valuable Living Space Argument, which I'll admit is a hard one to counter. But that's what triggered the stuff that does live in my DNA, in other words, the real reason I've come to despise the tower:

"True, it doesn't take up that much space. But it gets really dusty and looks like Hell."

"Oh, it doesn't look THAT bad."

"How many times have you dusted it?"

"How many times have you been to Hell?"

Duly noted.

Just remember though, when I do show up in Hell—because at this point, it's not really a question of if, but when—and find I've been assigned to clean in a super heated room full of dust-caked CD towers for all of eternity, don't be surprised to get a call from Jesus telling you to check your email for a rather pointed told you so message from me.

Cathy ZielskeTouché

69 Comments on “Touché”

  1. #1
    Julie Kolde

    Girlfriend…this is EXACTLY why we digitized our CD collection on iTunes and have it backed up to our EHD. I am pretty sure I am going to hell too…and there is NO WAY I am going to dust CD towers! LOL Great post from a “new” fan!

    Have a wonderful “dust free” day!

  2. #2

    Just upload them all to Itunes, sell the CDs on ebay and then life will be perfect. LOL You’ll make money AND never have to dust a CD case ever again.

  3. #3

    I’m with Julie…our CD’s went onto my ipod a few years ago. Did it take forever and nearly sent me insane / on a musical journey like no other – yes. Am I so very happy that our CD collection is filed away in plastic storage containers (safe from dust) – yes.

    Dan, get rid of the tower…she let you keep those boots, so let Cathy have this one, OK!

  4. #4

    LOL this is exactly why we transferred all of ours to MP3 files a few years back! Well that and my daughter was going through a very destructive phase!

  5. #6

    You win the prize for funniest post ever. I’m laughing my head off. Where are my CDs? In the cabinet with the audio equipment. (Can’t see them, therefore they never need dusting 😉 ) They are in these cool canvas boxes I got from Tuesday Morning. 3 fit perfectly on the shelf, and most of my CD’s fit in them. I pull the boxes out and I can see the CD spines – NO, they are NOT alphabetized, but they are by genre. They’d all fit in there if I didn’t have over 100 Christmas CD’s . . . . . And you tell Dan I’ve been to Hell and it’s FULL of wrought iron CD towers, all very dusty. Funny, though, the only people dusting them happened to be men . . . . .

  6. #7
    sue Treiber

    when my husband wants to do a pointless job, I just smile and shake my head. We have a crapload of CD’s and never listen to them anymore. I need to get them gone.
    See you in Hell!

  7. #8
    Sheri M.

    I feel your pain. We have hundreds of cd’s and my husband has these giant black wooden CD towers that hold them (in addition to a small tower and several zip up cases). I HATE those towers, I hate looking at CDs and they used to be positioned on either side of our TV. Thankfully when we moved from our apartment to our house I convinced him they should go to the unfinished basement with the rest of his boy stuff. So problem solved….for now!

  8. #12

    You make me laugh! YOU ARE TOO DARNED FUNNY!!! It is good that Dan has such a compatible personality and sense of humor. He truly did have good arguments. (Makes for a great comedic story, too!)

  9. #13

    Just do like I do, he comes home from work and it’s gone. If he’s anything like my husband, it will be approximately 7 days before he notices. Although I have a feeling that Dan might notice faster, make the alternative so beautiful he’ll have to say “Ok you were right”. 🙂

    (meaning, stand naked in that spot or something lol).

  10. #15

    Gotta agree with Julie on this one… figure out a way to get them all burned to an external hard drive and hooked up to run either over your wireless network or through your speaker system. Nothing to dust.

  11. #16
    Trisha McFarlane

    LOVE this post! Now I’m sitting here at work wishing, hoping, praying that I can play “Stone In Love” today when I get home. I may have to just download it online today b/c it’s stuck in my head now. Best song ever. Thanks 🙂

  12. #17
    Grace Hester Designs

    We went through this process a few years back too. Some of the changes we made:

    1) We separated the singles CDs (I worked in a radio station and at mtv before so I would receive tons of singles) and one-hit wonder artists and put those CDs and covers into zippered CD-binders. This was so liberating – we cut down so many CDs by doing this.

    2) I made “index” CD covers in bright orange where the spine displayed the alphabet and these were the index markers for the CDs.

    3) Holiday music and non-English artists were placed in their own categories. It would be very very difficult for my husband to know where to find the Chinese/Korean/Indonesian artists that he likes to listen to occasionally.

    4) For the remaining CDs, we put them in CD towers from IKEA, similar to the BENNO but double the width

    Now that we have lived with this system for awhile, here’s some insight into how well/not well it has worked for us:

    1) It only works well if everyone in the household keeps up with it. Unfortunately, my husband kept with the system for about 2 years. And then once he got itunes, started pulling random CDs out in bunches to move the music to his itunes and got too lazy to put them back in order. Lovely right?

    2) Move the CDs away from inquisitive one-year-olds. My younger daughter who is now very very mobile, loves to pull them off of their shelves (we started laying the towers on their sides on the floor to prevent any accidents before she arrived but this also means free access to ALL the CDs)

    3) It is totally worthwhile to put your music on iTunes or something similar and back them up and move them all into the zippered CD binders. You can pull them out if you are looking to play some music around the house but they are put away in an organized manner when you are using your iTunes for your music source. I am planning to invest in an iHome-styled player as well – it is a much more suitable format for the way we manage our media files today.

    Good luck with the process – and please help Dan to keep things up! :o)

  13. #18
    Erin McMilon

    well, as I always say, when I am assigned to me seat in the basement of the after life, I will be in good company – now I am assured of it!

  14. #19
    Erin Noll

    Hi Cathy,
    You need to look in to a system called “Sonos”. http://www.sonos.com/ It is amazing. I have all my music available through a controller at anytime. I couldn’t live without it. Well worth the cost. Erin

  15. #20

    Jesus, Mary and Joseph…Lactaid blown through my right nostril while reading your witty blog hurts like a mutha!
    Funny stuff.

  16. #21

    LOL! I don’t even know where our CD’s are… probably in a garbage bag down in “The Room of Shame” tossed in there during one of my husbands purging marathons! Garbage bags are his version of the plastic bin.

  17. #23
    Karin G

    Hi Cathy, I agree on the CD tower…it must go. It looks like there is a lot of air space in the wall unit (area 2)…why don’t you find a way to get more CDs onto those shelves with different stacking units? Second and bottom shelves look like they could hold a lot more. Rethink the configuration/space and how it is used. Add an extra shelf above the turntable? Add a cube/shelf-stacker for the turntable to sit on and more CDs go under it?

  18. #24
    Érica Ambrosio

    Area 1 is the best for now, because it has Abba Gold. Mine is on my right side now. I loved your ideas. When I will have too many CDs I pretend to do something like this too. Thanks for sharing!

  19. #27

    That conversation was sooooooooooo FUNNY!

    Chalk one up for Dan–I’d say you are keeping the CD tower–dust and all.

  20. #28
    Jeannette P

    We’ve eliminated pretty much all of the plastic cd cases from our home. Our cds actually reside in a binder type book for cds. Love that it holds so many & they are actually stashed in our bedroom closet. I’ve taken way too much time to upload them onto my external hard drive & use them on the ipod or computer since all our other cd players kept breaking.

  21. #29
    Ann Grounds

    Had to laugh! I just wish it was my husband that had an organizing bug up his you know what! I did all the CD’s (I’ll admit, only about a third of yours) and DVD’s just last month. I got these cool Media Boxes that hold either DVD or CD and they are in there, by Genre and A to Z. Then neatly stacked in our new bookcases and entertainment center.

  22. #30

    I own and have read BOTH of your books and I’ve been reading your blog daily for months now. No, I am not some weird stalker, it’s just that today I have to step forward and thank you for making me laugh, brightening my day and sharing great tips on everything from scrapping to cooking to home improvement! Love it! Cathy you have a tremendous sense of humor and fantastic writing style, keep it comin’ girl, you rock! Thanks for sharing!

  23. #32

    Get rid of the boxes, and put the actual CDs into zippered cases, you would get all the CDs onto one shelf

  24. #33

    Cathy, because we share those order-lovin’ genes, I have to tell you that when I realized you have the ‘J’s and the ‘S’s split into two different locations, my right eye began to twitch and hasn’t yet stopped.

    Would you mind asking sweet Dan to reorganize again and keep all the CDs within a letter range in one location? It will put my eye at peace.


  25. #35
    Cyndi K

    The manly way to dust: Take CD tower out to garage, fire up the air compresser, blow off, bring back in.

  26. #36

    I am an alphabetising diva even though our CD’s are for the most part still in boxes – they are still in alpha order – and man do I get mad when that code is broken.
    But I just had to say Jools Holland? Whenever I mention or play Small World Big Band everyone around here has that blank face, tumbleweed crossing look!

  27. #37

    oh – and I meant to say – I LOVE the idea of splitting the CD’s up and storing them in different areas. I was wondering what to do – as I hate looking at a whole wall of just CD’s – even if the are alphabetised & chronological!

  28. #38
    Elaine P

    Yes. I see you’ve met and married my husband, too? I didn’t realize he was a polygamist, because it HAS to be the same guy.

    I’m going to have some questions for him when he gets home.

  29. #39
    Missus Wookie

    Cathy – Delicious Monster Library has a bluetooth barcode reader which will catalog all your CDs (dvds, books etc.) for you. We did that, ripped the main ones to iTunes and a server and then slipped all CDs into zipable folders. With Heidi Swapp A-Z tabs and American Craft ribboned tags ’cause they were in my stash.


    LOVE it 🙂

  30. #40

    “”How many times have you been to Hell?” My response, and Peter’s if the tables were turned, would have been, “and this conversation isn’t hell?!” BAM!!!

  31. #41

    Do you laugh at yourself when these brilliant one liners pop in your head as you write your blog? I read your blog during lunch and they make me laugh. Let’s just say you make it easier for me to push my Lean Cuisines down my throat.

  32. #44

    Our cd collection is so sad, it wouldn’t fill up half that ugly metal rack, which would make the rack look even worse.
    I’ll see you in Hell, I’m going in a handbasket, that will be nicely decorated with all my embellishments because I’m not leaving those behind for anyone!

  33. #46
    Kathy T.

    We chucked all the jewel cases last year. Hallalujah! Instead (since we had way too many to even contemplate adding all the songs to itunes), we bought boxes from Exposures designed to store CD’s, and put each cd and song booklet into a paper sleeve designed for CDs (so it has a hole in the middle so that you can see which CD is in it). These are alphabetized in the boxes. DH also has a list of the cd’s in some program(not sure if it’s excel or some speciailized program) to keep track of what we own. Whew! If you want more info let me know — it was a very freeing experience to get rid of the jewel cases!

  34. #47

    omg having them in three places would surely drive me over a cliff! I would suggest one of two courses of action A) buy two more IKEA CD towers and stack them next to the first. there appears to be enough space
    or do what I did…B)throw away all those cases and buy a big ole CD binder and put them all in there (you may need two by the looks of that collection). No more dusting! 😉

  35. #48
    Holly A. Moss


    I’m having that very same war with my husband & our horribly extensive collection of DVD’s . . .


  36. #51

    Gotta side with those who have their CD’s loaded on the iTunes. I love to just click on whatever I want to play, plus nothing to get out or put away. The CD’s themselves are stored in a couple of big binders with their front cover/book and the cases are dumped in a box downstairs. Just think of all the space you could use for something else!

  37. #52

    I do not like to dust cd’s or dvd’s. I keep adding my stuff to itunes..

    Thanks for showing me I am not the only one with funky taste, I still have my 45’s in the sleeve they are so cool.

    I really like Ray Lamontagne and I just purchased tickets to his show in April..I’m excited since it is a small venue.

  38. #54
    liz a.

    hahahahhehehehehhahaha! and besides all the cd’s that this mom and dad like, we also have all the kiddie’s cd’s that they left behind when moving on from high school and college! and now more cd’s for the little grandchildren…ack! wouldn’t it be nice if all those silver discs were actually worth something!! back to alphabetizing…..! hahahahaehehhahahahah! love your story…it was so good to laugh with someone else and not just at ourselves…hahahhheheheheheahahhahahah!

  39. #55
    Tonja Trump

    That is too funny!! I used to alphabetize my cd’s until I put them all into the computer..now it does it for me! Love the pillows Dan’s kneeling on too..is the floor really that hard on his knees..poor guy! I need him to come alphabetize my DVD’s please. They are in a few areas around the house as well. 😉

  40. #56
    lynne moore

    We have over 400 CDs and I don’t see how having them on iTunes would be satisfying….My husband has them aphabetised, categoriezed and in order. Our problem is the over 400 that doesn;t fit in the dedicated shelving. They are on top right now.
    It’s the DVDs we just alpha organized and it’s Heaven! Saves so much time and parental yelling at the teenagers. We can have a real family movie night instead of watching whatever is on top of the pile.

  41. #57

    To save 3 separate locations (altho’ there are still more CDs than the device can handle) DH went to a CD storage/changer device. Holds 400 discs. Can’t possibly part with the cover artwork, and what if you want the lyrics or confirm what the playlist is? So, those jackets are in their own little “scrapbook” as it were – specialized already-on-the-market holder (um – well, 2 of these notebooks for 400). Certainly still able to alphabetize to his hearts content! Process does take a bit of time – insert discs into changer, pull jacket out of CD box/holder, put jacket into “notebook,” and toss old plastic case/holder. But worth it in the end! ‘Til you keep buying more discs. Haven’t tried to get a second mega-holder yet! lol!


  42. #58
    Tammy M.

    Amen Cathy!! Journey’s “Stone In Love” is one of my all-time “blare it loud” songs!! Can’t have that CD missing….no WAY!

  43. #59

    Hey Cathy, I feel so very cool right now. I have the same photo albums as you do! They’re right there in Area 1, the green and tan floral ones. What is really funny is that I bought both colors too and I store them exactly the same way – alternating colors. What do you keep in there? I keep very old polaroids from my childhood. I always enjoy reading your blog 🙂

  44. #61

    Love the story – that’s my spouse, too, lol. We couldn’t part with the cds either, Cathy, but we did get rid of the boxes and put them all in two binders with pockets. I DO NOT miss the dusty wrought iron in my livingroom.

  45. #63

    “stone in love” ROCKS! someday, you will visit my house and see real CD organization at its finest. or most infamous. or something.

  46. #64
    Rebecca Foxworth

    CD’s? What are those?
    Oh, yeah, those are the things my husband still has.
    Even though I bought him and iPod.
    My CD’s went the way of the dinosaur and the dodo.
    It’s all on iTunes…with a backup on a hard drive that I had a good excuse to buy as soon as I decided it was all GOING to be on iTunes.

    My husband also has a turntable. Who still has a TURNTABLE?
    Oh, wait. I just looked again at the pictures.
    You do.

    ; )

  47. #65

    OMG, I am LMAOooo at the way you two argued!! Totally sounds like something my DH would say. Also have to say I love your irreverence:)

  48. #66

    Pier 1 called..they want the wrought iron cd rack from my first place after college back.

    Seriously…HELL..you bring the buns..I’ll bring the hot dogs.

  49. #67
    Adrienne in Hong Kong

    Hi Cathy,

    I live in a high rise apartment in Hong Kong, where space is a real premium. And we have an awesome CD collection. We have 2 Ikea towers and other CDs crammed into every nook and cranny.

    We all have ipods and I have downloaded all the music to the computer. So when my husband said we need to organize the CDs, I responded that we should just get rid of them! I donated them to a retirement home and they loved them.

    CDs are just dust collectors, I have my computer backed up, and as you have pointed out they are an eye sore!

  50. #68
    Rachel Greig

    That is funny. But guess what, I’ve been to Hell. It’s in Norway (which is kinda funny, because Norway to me is like heaven on earth.) google map Hell in Norway. Hell’s not as bad as one may think! I’d be quite happy to end up there! Bring on hell I say!!

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