Monday, May 24, 2010

...But now, I'm found.

I credit myself with happening to fall on the most marvelous little shop this weekend. For everybody that has never been there, you must go. For everybody that has already been, shame on you! You let me live my whole life thus far without ever hearing about this place. I'll need to hold a grudge a little while longer before we can be friends again.

And there it is... the temple for letter writers everywhere, a "crack-house" for paper addicts, a playground for paper-mania. This is my success story:

My life before Tabula Rasa Social Stationers is a dark one. I hardly remember it. When I think back one who I was or what I did back then, it seems as though it is someone else's life -- like it was a movie I watched or a book I read, not what it actually was... a life I led. I'm a clean man now, but I can still feel the craving at times, like when I'm stressed or on the weekend when I'm partying with my friends. It creeps into my blood: the need to find beautiful stationary.

Like so many of us, I got into stationary when I was young and stupid. All of my friends were writing letters, and in spite of better judgment, I thought, "Hey, why not? I'm curious to see what it feels like to buy stationary. What could it hurt to purchase some gold-embossed, blank note-cards just this once? I'm strong enough." But the cravings wouldn't stop, and pretty soon after, I was wandering the streets, going from store to store looking for the right lettersheets and matching envelopes that would stop the cravings. I prostituted myself, buying cards and envelopes that I didn't even really need -- stationary that somewhere in my mind, I knew it was ugly. But I was addicted. I was so high on letter writing that I just couldn't see what I was doing to myself and others around me by buying ugly stationary.

One day, I hit rock bottom. I was busy trying to do housework, but I just couldn't concentrate. I had to write a letter. My breathing was heavy. My palms began to sweat. I got that familiar headache and tingling in my head that comes when I've gone too long without a hit. I got in the car and drove over to Barnes and Noble. I picked up a few folios of whatever I could find, paid at the front, then drove home. My little dog who I love so much greeted me at the door. He knew where I had been. He could smell the cheap notepads and slutty stationary sets all over me. I froze. He looked up at me then began lick his rear as if to say, "When is it going to stop, Aaron?"

I broke down. I fell to the floor, curled up in ball like a fetus in the womb and cried like I have never cried before in years. I felt it all at once: I didn't like who I was. I felt dirty. I knew I wanted to see my dog grow up, but at the rate I was going, I knew I wouldn't be able to. After hours of crying, I picked myself up off of the floor and began searching the internet for resources to help.

I found a website for this store in Salt Lake City called Tabula Rasa - Social Stationers. Something inside me spoke. I felt the universe guide me to this store for healing. I wrote down the address on a small, torn-off piece of paper. I kept that paper safely tucked away in my pocket for days. It was my light at the end of the tunnel, my talisman against the demons of polka-dots and poorly designed damask patterns on letter pads intended for teenage girls and post-menopausal cat-ladies.

This last Saturday, I went through Tabula Rasa's Fifty-Step Program: it's fifty steps from the entrance to Trolley Square to the entrance of their store. They don't rush you; you take as long as you need to walk those fifty steps. You can even have the support of your family and friends around you as you make those final steps to recovery. I knew that I was finally "on the wagon" when I bought this:

24 Sheets of antique 'par avion' stickers to put on the outside of my envelopes. And just to make sure that I knew what it felt like to buy gorgeous, quality stationary (to ensure that I would never go back the same road I came), I bought a box of this:

When I got home, I found my dog half asleep on the couch, wasted. The very one who inspired me to change was almost passed out next to a Hallmark bag with pastel-colored floral note-cards scattered everywhere. It seems as though he's fallen in with the wrong crowd. But as long as Tabula Rasa is only one hour away, there is always hope.

John Doe (name changed for privacy) is now a student at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah pursuing a degree in Psychology. He hopes to one day bring help to recovering stationary addicts like himself. He is in high demand as a speaker, touring the country one day out of the year to speak on the dangers of ugly letterpaper and cliche greeting cards to high school audiences.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Following a job well done on my latest lesson, I have decided to treat myself to the delights of the city. You see, if one escapes the nomalicy of Utah County, or the UC as we sometimes call it, one must fully embrace the offerings of Salt Lake -- as cosmopolitan as is possible in this state. There is never a shortage of experience to be had; the city offers, and you either accept or are taken aback by the unfamiliarity and decline. Salt Lake asked me, the Wallflower of Utah County, to dance, and I took her hand and allowed her to lead me across the floor she knows so well.

Where did she lead me to? Today, it is the Beehive Tearoom on Broadway. Here, you share tea with your soul in Miss Havisham's dark and warm study. A cup of vegetable soup, spinach and artichoke sandwich, and hot pot of tea... they stir my soul, gently waking my heart from complacency as gently as a wise, old grandmother. Take a look at where I'm sitting:

--Blogged on the run using my mobile.

Friday, May 7, 2010

My big mistake...

Do you remember this post? It was right before I went to go pick up my dear little Pistol. I was reflecting on all of the quirks that I used to scoff at before I became a doggy parent, and I noticed with my impending responsibility that I was becoming a neurotic parent myself: organic foods! Safety border-lining on insanity! Etc, etc. Apparently I was scoffing too much, for last night, I received this comment on that particular post:

"That is my family photo you took from my blog. The outfits were made by a family friend, so we wore them one Christmas. Brings back good memories for me. Make fun if you wish. I am not the person you described." --Jules--

Small world, huh? Either this lady is lying, and it really isn't her family, or it is her, and I'm wondering how she found my blog. I, of course, have no idea who she is or where her blog is. This photo was taken from a Google Search. I don't just wander on to people's blogs and steal their photos to make fun of them.

Second, a closer reading of the blog post never once returns the phrase, "Look at this family... they're neurotic parents." I tried to speak in general terms, a hypothetical situation that relates to everyone and no one. The photo served to kick-start my readers' imaginations.

Third, I'm very sorry. It's funny that this comment should come last night. Earlier in the day, I was walking my sister's little dog, thinking about how head-over-heels in love I am with that little boy. He's a Pekingese / Chihuahua mix. It's been said on several occasions before that he's a homely little dog. I just don't care. I have no concern at all for the way he looks. All I know is I love him to death. But if anyone says anything derrogatory about him, I'm crushed. It bruises me because it seems like they're not getting how beautiful and precious he is.

It was unintended, but I'm sure I did that to this lady. I'm sure she'd die for her kids, and for me to step in and use one of their more precious memories in such a calloused way is quite unlike the person I would like to be. Even if this wasn't the actual lady and was just someone out to cause a stir, it's still a good wake-up call. People cannot be oversimplified. That's half the reason for trouble in our world. People look at each other and assume they know each others story. Then, they pronounce judgment on each other quite unfairly.

So, what does this mean? I was writing about a hypothetical parent, so I must use very general photos. From here on out, it will only be royalty-free images or clip art. I will never use someone's personal or family photos again. It's not enough that I don't know them; they still exist somewhere. They're real people. If I want a photo to illustrate my discussion of a neurotic parents, I have to find a photo where people were paid to look like or are pretending to be neurotic parents. I'll be leaving the original photo up for two weeks or so, just so everyone has a chance to go back and look at it if they want -- to jog your memory of the post, and to pause a while, imagine the family in a positive way (how much they love and take care of each other) to make up for the way I used them earlier. Then, I'll put up the kind of general photo I spoke of earlier.

After receiving Jules' comment, I wanted to shrug it off, pass the blame to someone else, justify my actions and suppose her reactions were far too sensitive. That kind of deceptive self-preservation gets our society further away from where it needs to be. Thank you, Jules, for giving me the opportunity to learn the grace to admit fault when fault arises, and the opportunity to hone my habits of respect for others.