Cheap thrills or “Confessions from an office supply junkie”.


I’m Erica and I’m an office supply junkie.  I have a cramped, claustrophobic closet under the staircase nobody else realize was sacred, but I lusted for immediately.  Now my “Thank You Room” (formerly where the treadmill lived) has a secret door, just like kids used to find in mystery houses.

The door is covered by beige & tan wallpaper, and it “disappears” so well only I can see the vertical silver pull.  My office  supply closet is smaller than where Anne Frank hid.  Its ceiling is slanted at an unfriendly 45-degree angle ( I bump every time I stand up), but I don’t mind frequent concussions.   I commissioned special wooden shelves that are casters, and three of them reside side-by-side, where they hold wrapping paper on the bottom and note paper on top.

It’s not Candy Spelling’s lavish ‘wrapping room’ but for me it’s just as luxurious.   I maintain tight control of inventory, because if I run out, the operation is down.  Typewriter ribbons lined up straight, the cheap-o Nakajima brand, the only one that works with my typewriter. There’s a ribbon shortage world-wide, my mechanic Ermanno tells me, but most people don’t seem to be up at night worrying about what will happen when the earth runs out of ribbon.)

Office Depot calls its siren song, enriched by enticing deals on plastic laminated coupons.  For $75, I can get 20% off!  For $125, even bigger savings!   There’s always some purchase I can justify. When I get stressed, when some people find the need to take a long jog or go for a drive on Pacific Coast Highway as the sun sets, I only need go as far as my closest Office Depot and  disappear into the aisles for five minutes.   After I cruise around the Uniball pens, choose a Metallic sparkling gold gel pen … I feel my blood pressure drop, my shoulders relax, and I’m as calm as if I’d had a Gin & Tonic.


Some women rub fabric when they shop.  I finger tangerine-colored Post-Its.  I’ll toy with neon yellow transparent tape, marvel at lacy-designed shipping tape.  I hold myself back from buying “one of everything” in the stationery department.  I keep myself on a tight leash.  Today I’ll snap up hot pink envelopes with flowers, cute with their white spaces left open for inside address & delivery location.  I’ve bought these before and they’re my signature look.  Halfway down the aisle, I score —  matching hot pink floral stationery!  It’s not cool anymore, my daughter tells me, but my generation is still “matchy-matchy”.  It doesn’t feel right unless there’a a connection between top and bottom.  So I buy paper the same way I woefully color-coordinate my clothes.  Matching zebra belt and shoes, check.  Matching black & white scrolled stationery with envelopes where the pattern repeats on the back flap, check. The thrill of the kill.  When I haul in a white plastic bag bulging with a ream of fresh emerald  green paper with interlinked circles and cheerful aqua padded envelopes, I can hardly wait to unpack my prey.  I pile up the rest of the stuff for my supply closet and take out my best red Mundial scissors to cut through the transparent wrap.   I look at the first page off the top, then carefully roll it into my Olympic Compact II, as respectfully as I hope a man would feel before he deflowers a virgin.

I pause a moment before I sully the piece.  Once it’s written on,  the ream will never be the same.  New paper inspires me  and the more I write, the faster I put out mail and the more I speed through stamps… which brings me to the philatelic side of things.  But that’s another obsession.imgres-2 imgres-1aclkaclk-1

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