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.

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