Hi. I’m Monda and I’m an office supply addict.

No Telling

Ever since I was a little girl hanging out at my father’s desk, I’ve had a thing for office supplies. Yellow college-ruled legal pads, killer Swingline staplers that look like miniature Buicks, Flair felt-tip pens, copy sets you can load in a typewriter to make multiple, tissue-paper copies – pink ones. Oh, and empty “Blue Books” just made for writing tiny novels, steno pads with that fabulous “eye-ease” green paper, and boxes broken at the edges but stocked with hundreds of sheets of Eaton onionskin paper. I can’t even talk about my love affair with envelopes. It’s just too much.

You know, I lived the double-luck of having a father who was both a professor and a coach. You know what that means. Clipboards.

It was easy to keep me entertained and out of everyone’s way – Dad just sat me in the corner or at a spare table in his office (home or school), and there I’d stay scribbling and typing and stapling and creating. His Hendrix office sported an old Royal typewriter the color and weight of a boat anchor. At home, it was a spiffy early sixties Smith-Corona Galaxie. No one ever really taught me to type, and I never really learned in any productive way. It didn’t matter, though, since the whole point was to keep me busy and out of trouble. Besides, I had writing to do.

I imagine there are scores of teacher’s kids out there with the same accidental training. The other eventuality is this unhealthy craving for office supplies. It honed my tastes and made me quite particular about writing tools.

I’d rather write in my own blood than use a ballpoint pen, for example. And forget pencils. There’s just something about them that anticipates making a mistake. There’s nothing sexy about erasure and correction – I don’t like the temporary nature of that business. I’ve got a friend and colleague who refuses to use anything but yellow number two pencils of a particular make and model. Ticonderoga? Something like that. Bless his heart, is all I can say, because – writing instrument aesthetics aside – he’s having quite a time finding a damned pencil sharpener. They just don’t automatically install those in the back of every room like they used to.

Oddly enough, I’ve never craved fountain pens. Too scratchy. The only thing that pulled me away from felt-tip Paper Mate Flairs was the advent of gel pens, Uniballs in particular. I buy them by the box and always have about six jangling around in my purse. Ah, heaven.

Paper is where I get into real trouble. Those yellow, hardbacked, college-ruled legal pads are my siren song. Can’t stay away from them. Even though I’ve matured into more of a Moleskine XL Cahier kind of gal, I can’t leave Office Depot without at least one package of legal pads in tow. Besides, the Depot doesn’t sell Moleskine. For that I have to walk into a bookstore, and those trips only cause more shelving problems.

In my pre-Moleskine days, I bought stacks of chemistry notebooks. I still do, actually. For those of you unfamiliar, these are like composition books only more elaborately bound. The paper is that magical “eye-ease” green of old steno pads, but they’re college-ruled and the pages are numbered. As an angsty teen I bought these at the college bookstore and wrote page after numbered page of bad poetry covered in tears and cigarette burns. Last summer, I went to a lot of trouble to get those put on the college bookstore shelves again. Count on the fact that I always have at least one Moleskine and one chemistry notebook going at all times.

Just yesterday Strikethru introduced me to an entirely new affliction that I ordered immediately – Apica notebooks. I only bought one just in case, but I’m sure to soon start juggling three different scribbling books, dammit. Take a look at them – they’re irresistible and we can blame Strikethru.

Swingline staplers. The old ones never die or break, not even if you staple through leather or drop them fifty times. I have one on my desk right now that sat on my father’s desk in the sixites. It works like a charm and weighs a good three pounds – if I ever have the need it can double as weaponry. When it comes to staplers, newer is never better. At work, I’ve been through four plastic staplers in two years and good riddance to them all.
My addiction is too involved to fully explain in a mere blog post. To do it right, I’d need to make another trip to the Depot or some other Palace of Paper to get more supplies. Legal pads, probably. And file folders. Hmmm.

15 thoughts on “Hi. I’m Monda and I’m an office supply addict.

  1. Oh, dear lord, I have the same addiction. And add binder clips to that list for me. I bought some at Staples this week that have brightly colored handles. And any of the floral office supplies from Target? I covet them. Covet. And all too often, purchase them. Especially if they are marked 25% off. And sometimes even if they aren’t.And I own an ancient swingline stapler inherited from a teacher friend. And I will even let my kids touch it, because it is not breakable. I thought I was the only one. (And yes, I am a teacher’s kid, too.)

  2. My dad was a lawyer and my grandmother and favorite spinster aunt were school teachers. They had good supplies. I loved their supplies and I buy WAY too much of my own. And, when people at work buy their own cute colored paper clips, I take them off their papers and replace them with a plain one, so I can keep the colored one. Yes, I not only covet them, but I also steal them.

  3. Oh, Monda. Another reason why I admire you so. We are such kindred spirits. You want to know all I asked Santa Claus for when I was in forth grade? A clipboard, chalk holder, label gun, and manila file folders. My mother was thrilled because unlike my brother’s expensive Nintendo requests, mine were cheap and readily available at the Fred’s where Santa was and has always been a loyal customer. It was gleeful year.Now that I have access to an English department’s supply closet, at least once a week is Christmas for me. I’m fond of taking far too many colored file folders, binder clips, and packs of Post-it notes. God, I love Post-its. My mom and I have this tradition of buying each other “happies” every now and again–I get her black angel figurines and multi-colored ink pens and she gets me Post-it notes (last time they were in the shape of a T!) and stickers. Yes, I still love stickers more than almost anything.In your opinion, is an uncanny love of office supplies sure fire evidence of a teacher? I’m thinking that’s probably about right.

  4. My mother was a secretary when I was real little (she’s progressed much further now.) Mother-daughter work day was like <>heaven<> because it meant playing in the office supplies all day. I loved the same things as you but I’ll add one more to the list- manila folders. I loved their cardstockiness. You could color them with layers and layers of highliter and they wouldn’t get all soggy like printer paper. The smell of a copy machine brings back memories too (that warm chemical scent.) So do those little serving size packets of sugar and creamer. Not quite office supplies, but the same sort of nostalgia. The smell of cheap coffee still makes me think of visiting work with Mom.Great topic đŸ™‚

  5. Tricksey – I can smell the entire office you just described. The file folder business is IMPORTANT, because at the end of the day, all the projects you colored and stapled and wrote went into a manila folder and came home. How could I forget something like that?Oh, Tim. I have to find some post-its for you. And the uncanny love as evidence? Oh hell yes. The school supply hunger. You need to start tromping in those school supply stores the teachers always frequent. You’ll go nuts.The label gun. I have to find one immediately.

  6. My own personal mom was a church secretary for some years (and, when not doing that, a school secretary) and I remember helping out in the church office, where she’d type up the bulletin on an enormous IBM typewriter, and we’d run mimeograph (!) copies of it, then send it through an electronic paper folder.Special times were when the church annual budget had to be assembled, and the entire Moon family would walk, en masse, clockwise around a huge table, assembling those big reports.Right now I have a big black and chrome Swingline 67 Electric stapler on my desk. I have no use for such a stapler, but I can’t bear to part with it. It’s one sweet stapler. (Have I committed some sort of office supply faux pas by talking about an *electric* stapler?)

  7. A family that collates together, stays together, Mr. Moon.There’s no shame in electric supplies as long as it’s a Swingline. Those electric staplers scare the bejesus out of me, though. They’re so earnest.

  8. Say what you will about electric staplers. They’re about the only thing that can get through my history papers once I’m done – and even then, they wheeze a little bit with the effort.I’ve always had a thing for office supplies, too. I’m rather OCD about clean sheets of paper. I don’t like writing on the backs, and I treasure taking that first piece of clean white college-rule paper out of the package. Or how about a clean notebook. Ah Lawd.Now that I’ve gotten into the Cult of the Moleskine, there’s no turning back. Shame on you for the Apica notebook link, though. For shame. You knew you were talking to a bunch of addicts.

  9. Hi Monda,Thanks for stopping by my site. I have been reading your blog archives; you are correct our early career experiences are very similar, plus I think we are the same age. Your posts are interesting and unique. I will be back.

  10. W.E.B. – get immeaditely online and order the Apica notebook. Mine just came in and the paper is luscious.Aedh – you don’t have to tell me about gel pens. I go through a Uniball 207 every week. I don’t care if they’re unlovely.Savvy Working Gal – I’m so glad you came by! Count on a regular visits from me at your site.

  11. I’d just like to know how to reload that Swingline 67 electric stapler. We have one at work and of course no instructions on how to open it?? I am sure you know. Will you tell? Please

  12. Good question! I don’t have one of those, but my friend Duffy does. Check him out at the Mad Farmer Liberation Front (link on the right over there) and I’m sure he can help. Sounds like he’s stapling away with his.Good luck!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s