Once upon a time, I worked in a high-rise in downtown LA and I fell in love with office supplies. It wasn’t love at first sight; it was a slow, methodical courtship. I don’t even think I knew I was falling in love. In fact, I don’t even think I can pinpoint the exact moment the relationship began. But slowly we began to have more and more interaction, and eventually it led to love. With all the long hours being cooped up together, it couldn’t have been a surprise. Fate brought us together and eventually we couldn’t resist.
It began innocently. A few new pens here and there brought me delight. I became acquainted with gel pens and fine points and even a new style of regular blue ballpoints. Then I met the fluorescent Post-it and the page-marker Post-it. This was a gateway to all sorts of notes: cube notes, lined Post-its, and personalized memo pads. After that, I was dazzled by different colored files and the sorting bins that came along with them. In the end, though, it was the view binder and sheet protectors that swept me off my feet.
You see, I had little else to do in this corporately-overpaid-glorified-internship job. Before my love of office supplies fully blossomed, I had even begun an importing-exporting business with Jennifer from the NY office. NY had the Lorna Doone snack-size packs that I loved with my afternoon coffee, and we had the flavored coffees that NY didn’t have. So, one Monday I put some flavored coffee in an inter-office envelope and sent it to NY. Later that week, an inter-office envelope came to me with the Lorna Doones. And so it became a weekly exchange. So, it’s really no wonder I fell in love with office supplies. With my importing-exporting business practically running itself, I had so much time on my hands. I couldn’t help but wander daily into the supply room to see what I could test out. Isn’t that how all affairs begin, long days at the office?
Even though I am no longer working in that high-rise, my love of office supplies still burns inside me. I have a closet full of binders at work. View binders, of course, and full of neatly printed pages tucked away securely in their sheet protectors. In fact, I eagerly anticipate the end of a unit so that I may create a new binder. My unit binders are like iPods: I have 1st, 2nd, 3rd generations all stored neatly in my closet.
But I most eagerly await the end of the year so I can make my supply purchase for the following year. It was at the end of last year that I realized—as I was taking inventory to see what to purchase for the next year—I belong on a special office supplies edition of Hoarders. I want to collect office supplies, but it pains me to actually use them. I just like to see the boxes of crayons lining the drawer and the clean, sharp points of the brand new colored pencils. I love to align the new packs of construction paper and build a tape and paper clip box tower. I simply love to have them in my possession, admiring the collection of them sometimes more than the use of them.
And this is where I may have gone wrong last year. At the end of last year, I purchased something that I actually had to use: a new set of pencils. I love mechanical pencils. They are so neat and precise. They are clean and sharp. And I love the clicking that accompanies the use of them. Amazingly enough, I used all my pencils during the year, so it was time for new ones.
But at the end of last year, I allowed the lure of nostalgia to lead me to purchase some old school push pencils instead. You know, the kind that have the individual leads that you feed into the top of the pencil as soon as soon as they wear out. Totally 80s. I was so excited to take this trip down memory lane. And the fact that they were brightly-colored in plaids and stripes and flowers made it even better.
But all year long I’ve had loads of problems whenever I’ve tried to use them. First of all, the individual leads are too long. So they either break or I have to write so delicately it’s as if I’m using invisible lead. Even worse, the caps don’t fit on the ends of the pencils. This bothers me on an organizational level mostly. I can’t stand unattached caps; they create clutter. But functionally this is also a problem. The erasers are on the caps, so if the cap is not on the pencil, there’s no eraser. A pencil without an eraser? Well that’s just chaos.
So I have to admit, I’m a little disappointed. Maybe I put too much pressure on this relationship. My hopes were too high. Or maybe I shouldn’t have chosen this date based on appearances and a desire to recapture a long lost love. Plain, simple mechanical pencils probably would’ve been a smarter choice.
But I led with my heart. (Or I “lead” with it. Ha Ha.) It’s what I do always, so it should come as no surprise it’s even true with office supplies. And even though the pencils and I didn’t click at first, they are still so bright and so beautiful, blossoming like flowers in my pencil cup. They make me happy even as they anger me so. Because fresh office supplies are pretty much the greatest thing in the world. Next to cookies.