September 8, 2009

The Thrill of New Stuff!

I came back to work today after a very lovely four-day weekend. I wasn't particularly thrilled to be back, although it's never as bad as one envisions it will be. Thankfully, that was the case today.

And what made it even better was the cute little envelope waiting for me on my desk! I was hoping it would arrive while I was away and it did! What was in the envelope, you ask?

Stuff! Glorious stuff!!!

You may have surmised by now that I really like the word "stuff". So did George Carlin, but he used it far more eloquently than I. No, I just really like all kinds of stuff. The stuff I am referring to here is just....well, stuff. Technically I could categorize it as collage materials. That would make sense to anyone reading this who is a collage artist. But what, exactly, did the envelope contain? Let me list some items for you:

  • 1 (one) invoice stub
  • 2 matchbook labels
  • a bit from a Chinese calendar
  • a milk bottle wrapper from Lone Pine Farms in New Jersey
  • a scrap from a map of various ports on the Michigan/Ontario border
  • graph paper of various grid sizes
  • a teaching aid card
  • a music flash card
  • a library due date slip
  • a Swan broom label
  • a scrap of very 70's wallpaper
  • a 'material and labor record' sheet
  • a parcel post label
  • a ham radio calling card from Appleton, of all places!
  • some vintage kid's lined paper
  • a factory payroll record
  • more matchbook labels from Bratislava, Slovak Republic (back then, though - Czecheslovakia).

To a great many people, they'd look at this list and wonder why in God's name would I actually PAY to acquire items such as these? Items that would appear, to some, to be trash and promptly thrown away?

To be honest, I don't know. I've always liked this kind of stuff. I remember as a kid taking the empty cereal and oatmeal boxes and cutting out the tiny squares used for color registry - you know, those teeny-tiny little 1 cm squares on the tabs of the box opening? Look for them sometime. I recall being very disappointed when my mom had to break it to me that they were too small to make into a book. I tried anyway and what do you know, Mom was right. It's probably the same lust of stuff that made me hoard play money and the tiny accessories that came with those Chinese-made dollar toys at the grocery store. Items that were meant to be thrown away and somehow made it through another round of cleaning, which is miraculous in and of itself.

And maybe that's the reason I love this kind of stuff - the sheer tenacity of a map or old coupon or paystub or old soap label that has somehow endured through eight moves, or thousands of cleanings, or just the sheer passage of time, sometimes looking as new as the day it first passed through someone's hands.

Either that, or I'm just a packrat.


  1. Ah, you must be a paper geek :D One of my friends from college is a self-described "pen geek" - not surprisingly she is a writer. Only other paper geeks will ever truly understand the glory of labels & stubs. Speaking of which, I bought some "11 O'Clock Tea" at World Market that made me think of you.

  2. OOH Carolyn! Thanks for thinking of me with your tea label! You've hit the nail on the head - only paper geeks understand the thrill of the ephemeral and tactile pleasure obtained through labels and stubs!! :D