Tag Archives: thoughts

User, Collector, or Stockpiler Part 1

Not long ago I posed a question to the Erasable Podcast Pencil Community (EPPC) about how the members would describe themselves in terms of their stationery use: hoarder (for future stockpiler), user, collector, or some combination in between. I then asked them to really think about why they use their stationery goods in the manner they do. The results were, at least to me, fascinating. Not only in terms of stationery use and purchasing patterns* but also the deeper psychological reasons people collect, stockpile, and use the products they love. From this brief online exchange I think a deeper survey could be created and interesting research paper written. But I might be too deep into my thesis to think clearly and everything might look like a possible research study.

To begin, let me discuss my own stationery journey. I started journaling way back in the late 80s in a cheap but very cool to my young mind 5 year diary with a lock, when I hit high school I decided I would only journal in the Mead 5-Star 6×9 inch 5 subject notebooks. The reasons were, to my 13 year old mind, well reasoned. I liked the size and the paper did well with the pens I used for journaling. Also the paperboard cover accepted the glue I used to collage the covers. I filled one for each year of high school. When I went to college, I could not find the same notebooks. They had changed the covers, so I decided to switch to something a little more adult. This is how I began my journey into finding the “perfect” sketchbook.

This is a process that came up often in the EPPC responses. Many of the members were searching for the “perfect” pencil, pen, notebook or combination, this process seemed to lead to an initial flurry of purchases to test out all the things. Some people solve the stockpiling problem through gifting pencils they don’t like as much to others who might like them more. Others added the excess to their hoard of supplies.

At this point in my own use and stockpiling of supplies I began to evaluate my constant influx of more supplies. For quite awhile I was able to justify my accumulation by writing reviews of various items for my blog. At one point I was buying items faster than I could possibly review them. I had a running list in one of my notebooks labeled, “Shit to Review.” Eventually I did review some of those items, but I also realized that there was no way I was going to be able to review everything that came across my desk, especially since I don’t tend to review stuff I dislike**. I took the gifting approach. I boxed up a bunch of the pencils that I knew I’d never use again and gave them to a classroom in need***. I still have a box of sketchbooks and pencils that I intend to test and review, or have tested and will review.

This leads to the second point that seemed to be common, that people would find an item that they liked, and like myself with my Mead 5-Star and EF ECOwriter, find that it would disappear or undergo change. This seems to lead to stockpiling of a favorite item(s). In my case, I have a half gross each of General’s Cedar Pointe #1 and Vintage EF ECOWriters. Why? Both of these items have disappeared on me in the past and been impossible to find. Fortunately, the CP#1 is back on shelves, but the ECOWriter is gone for good and is only available on eBay. Almost every person who stated that they stockpile a favorite item said that another favorite has disappeared on them in the past. I think this is clearly an important motivator and point of change in the stationery journey.

I have to wonder if I would stockpile**** pencils, notebooks, and sketchbooks if in my early years of stationery love a favorite notebook and pencil hadn’t drastically changed or disappeared?

Consider this part one in a multi part series that muses on the thought process between using, collecting, and stockpiling.

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Connie wrote about returning “home” after an absence and how it no longer felt like home. I returned to where I grew up this past weekend, for a little rest, relaxation and deep thought. Home hasn’t felt like HOME for close to 7 years. It’s still a place to regroup, gather my wool and to return to a pace of life that hasn’t changed since 1990.

The Boston area has a much different pace from where I grew up. In Maine if it doesn’t get done today it will get done tomorrow. Less stress. In Mass if it doesn’t get done NOW I’m pretty sure somewhere at sometime someone’s head will explode. It’s intense and sometimes I need a timeout.

When I need that timeout I head to Maine. Its unchanged rugged coastline centers my mind and brings me back to a grounded reality. The farm remains the same as when I left it this summer. Sure my family has changed from hand harvesting the blueberry crop to machine harvesting but the layout of the garden beds and the flow of the river is unchanged from when I was 16. It’s not the lack of change that interests me in Maine or makes me love the state so deeply, the sense of “rugged individualism”(emerson wrote about his in one of his books) and the intensity of the colors and scenery. I plug into the Maine vibe and get back to reality.

Driving through my hometown I’m greated by the same corner store where I learned to play pool on quarter tables with my friends and the creepy old guy. I knew enough not to tell my Dad that the creepy old guy showed us how to properly line up the cue, how to hold the cue and the difference between the need for a power shot and a soft hand. I’m still a terrible pool player but I’ve got many fond memories of playing pool and listening to Nirvana on the juke box. The corner store has been overtaken by a café that I’ve never seen anyone enter but the building stands virtually unchanged by over 20 years.

Further up the road I see what was once a horrifyingly bad clearcut, they didn’t even leave the 100ft “beauty strip” as required by Maine law, which has been planted with fir trees, in neat and easily managed rows. The ingenuity of Mainers amazes me. These fir trees will be “tipped” for use in Maine Balsam fir wreaths and sold throughout the world via L L Bean. Next time I’m in town I’ll do a little trespassing and get some pics of the trees. 500 acres of neatly planted fir trees with gravel roads routed around each acre. It’s majestic in its neat parallel rows and maddening in it’s monoculture. Yet those 500 acres will have people lined up to purchase permits to harvest the tips for pennies a pound. It’s a yearly harvest ritual that I adore. I took part in it as a teen. Its hard work but almost nice. Surrounded by woods and crisp air you walk carrying pounds of fir “tips” as you walk to find the next good tree to harvest.*

Part of what I love is that Maine has this seasonal ebb and flow of life, which just doesn’t seem to happen here in Mass. I miss that in September you can tomatoes, in October you harvest your squash and cover up the rutabagas.

Maine screws my head on straight, or as gaily forward as it will go.

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