Last week I was broke. And I was also in a stationery store.
Stationery stores are my Waterloo, Zonk. I have an iron will on a a general day, if I’m broke. I take buses all the time. I stop eating. I walk to places. I borrow clothes from my sisters. Wear large t-shirts and old jeans. Don’t comb my hair much. Chew gum a lot. Write with pencil stubs on raggedy paper. Let paint stains sit on my skin till they are dried up enough to peel off neatly. (Like Fevicol.) You know. I get into Character, get into the Zone, feel the Vibe play the role.. I feel like a hobo and I have a good time feeling like a hobo. Till a paycheck comes along and knocks a comb through my hair and shrinks my clothes and washes the paint stains off off me. Life goes back to normal and I go back to not having to struggle to make ends meet.
But while the poverty lasts, I really know how to make the money stay where it belongs. In the deepest fold of of my largest wallet. A tiny little hellhole of a coin compartment. A space so dark that it always amazes me for a second when I peer into it and don’t find stars twinkling at me.
Unless I make it to a stationery store. And there’s all these coloured squares of post-it notes and small handmade books and drawing pens and palette knives and little plastic boxes full of rubber bands and paperclips and of course I need a pocket sized planner I need it for my very survival! And so it was that I wandered into a stationery store last week with all of one hundred bucks on me and walked out with a small set of sticky notes and four yellow erasers with adorable smileys painted on them.
It seemed like the right thing to do, Zonk, it really did.. But now I have a table-edge full of small green notes that stick up like flags and I keep trying to flatten them down but it just doesn’t happen. I also have to spend a lot of time every morning thinking of things important yet insignificant enough to warrant a mention on a sticky note. I can’t really put huge to-do’s on a post-it: no point writing down “Meet Project Deadline” or “Eat Lunch” on a post-it and sticking it on my table, because really now, it’s not like I’ll skip a deadline, or lunch, on account of not having a bit of paper to my desk telling me to do expressly that. I’m a reasonably busy person on most days but I’m busy doing the kind of things I can’t possibly forget to do. Which makes it really difficult for me to tap into the realm of sticky-note literature.
For the purpose of this post, Zonk, let’s assume that you are a normal person. That being said, you probably wake up every morning and read the papers. Or a chapter from a book. Or check your mail or take a dump. You probably have a morning ritual in place that makes perfect sense because that is exactly how you like to start your day.
I used to have that too. I used to wake up to coffee and email-on-my-phone and think about what time to take a bath today. Every morning. On a regular basis. Till I walked into a stationery store with barely any money and came back home with a set of sticky fucking notes. And now my ritual has changed. My emails go unread. My bath times are random and unsatisfying and unplanned. The coffee tastes different. The morning is ruined. The whole day is ruined. Because now I wake up every morning and think of all the things I have to do and write them down instead. Then I sit around trying to rethink it all. I rephrase it. I specify. Trivialize. Let me illustrate that with an example. I told myself this morning that I have to finish the Inheritage Project brand design. I thought long and hard about it and edited it and sillified. And ended up with this on my sticky note:
inheritage cards: remove extra line
It‘s a good sticky note. You can’t forget to do the only real thing you have to do all day: finish a project and send it across. But you can forget to do something tiny like take an extra line off something. Of course, that extra line is probably a difficult thing to work with and it’s also probably the only thing separating you from wrapping the whole thing up but don’t worry, the sticky note doesn’t know that! Finally. I can continue with the rest of my life (for today).
So to wrap it all up and get to the point of this incredibly long post –
here’s what I learnt from last week, Zonk, and I’ll share it with you because this is advice that everyone can use: Don’t Buy Stationery When Broke.
Or you’ll probably end up with a bunch of sticky notes and feel obliged to spend the rest of your life thinking up forgettable things to remind yourself about.
Ps: I also have a lot of yellow smiley erasers lying in my drawer and of course I’m never going to use them. I can’t bear to think of eroding their pretty little faces.