Squirreling Away Stationery

February 9, 2014 in Journal

(I’d like to wish Mary Robinette Kowal a happy happy birthday, and hope that she’s had a fantastic time celebrating at Capricon this weekend. Since she’s off dealing with traveling through more snow and convention shenanigans, she’s asked me to contribute another Journal piece.)

Confession: I’m a total nerd (or geek, depending on which term I feel like using). And one of the characteristics I’ve found to be common among geeks and nerds is being, to reference The Simpsons, “The Collector.” This is a personality trait that can be a source of both fun and frustration. Fun, because there’s a lot of pleasure to be found in cultivating a collection of things you appreciate and enjoy: book series, comic book titles, action figures, games. Frustration, because you only have so much space and if you’re an organizing type like me, not having a definitive place for everything and everything in its place can get a bit like that itchy spot on your back that you can’t quite reach (and damned if it doesn’t move every time you get close to it).

Collections are a way of displaying parts of our identity. The second you step into our apartment, it’s pretty clear that my husband and I love books (the sociology/history ones are his, the graphic novels are mine, and don’t ask me which scifi/fantasy books belong to whom, because after 11 years, I don’t think I could tell you for sure).  I have a particular fascination for Hanayama puzzles, which share space on our shelves with our ridiculous number of books.

And as I mentioned before, I also love stationery.

I currently have four separate stationery sets, none of which have been completely used up (as well as a set of Superfriends cards that have been collecting dust sitting in display behind some Star Wars action figures). One of them is in a lovely wooden box with a locking clasp that my husband got me for our very first Christmas in Chicago, six years ago. Even though I don’t write letters with nearly the frequency that I used to before my 20s, it never felt right not having any stationery on hand, just in case, and every time I would walk into a Papyrus (it’s a dangerously pricey prospect living within walking distance of one), I would find pretty sets that I wanted and hey, shouldn’t I buy one before it’s discontinued?

I love stationery paper that has texture, rather than a smooth surface – I find I have less ink smearing problems. But not pulpy paper – I like to use those Pilot Precise rollerball pens, and the ink has a tendency to spread and those fibers can be a little annoying to contend with. A nice “basket weave” texture is what I’ve found I prefer. I like border patterns/design elements  - nothing too Laura Ashley floral, but I do like cherry blossoms, wisteria and plumeria, and if there are butterflies, dragon flies or hummingbirds, even better. I’m not a fan of a stark white color – that particular tea-stained/aged yellow is my preferred favorite, although a pale blue or lavender are also nice.

Matching envelopes are a must, and I really like ones that have a contrasting but complimentary inner envelope liner. Stickers for “sealing” are a nice touch, but not completely necessary in a set because it’s easy to pick up your own (using stickers with letters is an old habit from all the way back in childhood, but thankfully I’ve expanded beyond those early Lisa Frank ones*). Likewise, matching notecards aren’t an essential part of a stationery set for me to consider buying it – sometimes I think they’re unnecessary because I could never keep a letter short enough to be contained in a single card – but sometimes they’re just so pretty I can’t say no.

But I think what I really love about stationery is what I love about books: there’s a unique smell and texture to paper that just instantly feels “right.” Getting to handle a letter, both the writing and receiving, provides a physical connection to those words that’s palatably missing from email (and ebooks). I appreciate how email and ebooks have probably saved me an unimaginable amount of physical storage space (I can’t conceive of the number of shoeboxes I’d need to store my email correspondence if they were in letter form), but they still lack that special something that comes with tearing open an envelope and pulling out those handwritten sheets. They also lack that risk of slicing your finger open on said envelope, but that’s my fault for always forgetting to go for the letter opener.

*Additional confession: I’m still something of a sticker collector – I still have a box of stickers I’d been collecting since I was about five and yes, there are a considerable number of Lisa Frank stickers in there, mostly unicorns. Also, puffy stickers, which are something I don’t think I’ve seen much of over the years but I kind of miss.

18 responses to Squirreling Away Stationery

  1. I am a stationery junkie, too. And happy birthday to Mary!

  2. …It’s “stationery.” With an ‘e’ = paper. With an ‘a’ = “something that doesn’t move.”

  3. You only have four separate stationery sets! Michi, you have not begun to collect stationery…. =laugh=

  4. This is so funny — just today I was remembering how much I used to love to use stickers, especially Halloween stickers, as envelope sealers, and I wondered if they were still A Thing but I figured I’d better not venture into a stationery store to find out, given how much writing paper/cards/postcards/note pads I’ve accumulated and how little willpower I have. But when I stopped in at the supermarket, look, stickers on the endcaps of the racks in the card aisles (including some puffy ones, Michi)!

  5. When I was little, I used to collect the good ole Scratch-N-Sniff! I was obsessed… I have always enjoyed different, neat little trinkets / toys / kitsch items because they make me smile. But now that I’ve been studying Rousseau, I am ever mindful that I don’t want to obsess over my “things” anymore. What I collect now has deep meaning or usefulness–otherwise I throw it away. I see how much I am graced to have and access. I appreciate how lucky I truly am. ^_^

  6. At the moment, I have only one full stationery set. I have lot more stationery than that, because somehow, I manage to lose the envelopes! Also, the set I have been using is very fountain pen friendly, which I need, because I am only keeping my fountain pen and ink collection at it’s present size by a tremendous amount of will power.

    Still, I am a paper junkie… I have so much scrapbooking, card making, and just general crafting paper, that I have no rational excuse to buy more… probably in the rest of my life. But at least twice a year, the manufacturers of such things come out with so many beautiful papers, that I know I will succumb!

  7. Now that I make my own cards I just make and make and buy fun colored envelopes at stationary stores..I guess I am an envelope junkie???

  8. I am going to confess to a dark secret – sometimes I buy stationery that I think is so lovely that I can’t bear to write on it incase I spoil it! I have a fair hoard of such stuff.
    Yesterday I received some beautiful handmade paper notelets from http://www.WildPaper.co.uk
    If you are in the UK this site is well worth a look, their service was outstanding.

  9. I love you all for saying the things I’ve never said.
    I am so grateful I have a husband who does not blink an eye at my deep drawer of cards, stationery, stickers, papers…the list goes on.
    This month has been an amazing opportunity to send my beautiful hoarde out into the world in the hopes others will ENJOY them just as much.
    I am also particularly grateful for the opportunity to post images of what has been sent: I can keep and let go at the same time.

  10. I am hoarding stationery and have realized it has become a problem and an obstacle to actual writing. Please message me or respond to this post if you would like some. I have mail and folds, vintage stationery, load of blank note cards and postcards. Too much!

    I would love to send some to folks who I know who will use it since we are a rarer breed;)

    • I just signed up for this site today but have been hunting for postalettes, I cant find themself in stores anywhere. If you have any you want to are wanting to share, I’d love them!

  11. Miss Monogram, I would really enjoy helping you downsize. (smile) I especially love sheets of stationery with matching envelopes. I have zillions of note cards but actual sheets with envelopes are getting rare. It’s hard to elaborate on more than one thought in the space on a note card. Thank you.

  12. I love paper and I have a fair amount but am always on the lookout for more. MissMonogram, I’d be happy to take some of that off your hands, too! There’s not really any such thing as too much paper. At least not in my world :-)

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