Stationery

Following the White Rabbit Down the Rabbit Hole

Where is the border between sanity achieved through practicality and impulsive lust lived vicariously through bright, shiny things? I confess to having owned more stationery supplies in pencils, pens, inks and notebooks at various times than I was capable of using in my lifetime, unless modern science figures out how to extend human lifespan to 200 years.

SABLE as they call it (stash acquisition beyond life expectation) was first coined, some say, by knitters. Makes sense, every knitter I’ve known had closets of yarn they’ll likely never use up in their lifetimes. For stationery nuts, it means boxes and shelves of pens, drawer after drawer of bottled inks, and closets full of notebooks of all sizes and shapes, and much more. What drives such behavior? Definitely a first-world problem, it seems to derive from the pleasure one gets acquiring, more than using. There are many rationales to SABLEing:  hoarding because “someday I’ll need this and I’ll have it” or “look how much I saved buying a dozen of these versus one or two” or “I can always sell or trade it later” or the most dangerous one:  “that’s really cool and I don’t have that one.” Of course, relative to fine art or vintage automobiles, paper and pencils are cheap, at least by the single or dozen. The cheap justification tends to fly out the window when the laws of multiplication take over.

Like weight loss, I’ve swung up and down over the years in my battle against SABLE. It always feels great to minimize and reach that noble stage of stash = near-term usage levels, but it never stays there for long. There’s always a deal, there’s always a fear of running out of a special pencil or notebook you think they’ll quit making, and there’s always the fresh nudge from suddenly writing more in the notebooks, pushing more ink through pens, and grinding through more pencils evidenced by the sudden increase in pencil potpourri (sharpening shavings). Any one of those is an open door for a fresh taste of how good it feels to buy, acquire, stash-up on the beloved stationery goodies.

Seasoned SABLErs will always counter with “there are worst addictions” and while that’s true, justified like that assumes we’e all supposed to have at least one addiction and hey, stationery is a minor one that harms no one (unlike many of the more serious addictions). I never hear SABLErs mutter, “I can stop any time” and not because they think they can or can’t, but because they don’t see it as one of THOSE addictions. The only apparent harm is to your wallet, maybe your spousal relationship, and in extreme SABLEing, compromising the structural integrity of your house.

As I write this, I want to believe I’m finally on the path to redemption. I’ve systematically culled and reduced twice this year, and currently in a third wave I believe will get me to the promised land:  nothing kept that won’t be consumed within a year, more or less. But those damn Field Notes Dime Novels…had to grabbed eight packs because they are so me…and yes, the four boxes of Blackwing Volumes 1 were necessary because they won’t be around long and they’re round!. I guess the ultimate question is not how to stop this behavior, but rather what does a fashionable White Rabbit follower wear this season for excursions down the velvet-lined rabbit hole? Inquiring SABLE minds want to know.

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