"Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity." ~ Gilda Radner

Saturday, August 11, 2007


School supply shopping...is there anything more frustrating?

Well, of course, in reality, there is.

But over the years, I have found that school supply shopping is not for the easily stressed and strained.

I know what you're thinking..."But Ann, they give you a list. How tough can it be?" Well, since you asked...

Example (from School Year Past):

Notebook (single subject, college rule, at least 70 pages)
2 Red
2 Green
1 Yellow
1 Blue
1 Black

Seemingly simple enough. Until it comes down to actually FINDING a yellow single-subject, college-ruled 70-page notebook.

I found purple. Lots of purple. But no yellow. Or I found yellow, but it was wide-margined.

I searched Wal-Mart. I searched KMart.

"Oh, I found lots of yellow notebooks at Target,"I recall another mom telling me, inferring, I suppose, that a blind monkey could easily find a yellow spiral notebook, so why couldn't I...

Well, how nice. Except Target is in Des Moines. I was 70-plus miles from Des Moines, and school started in, oh, 15 minutes.

OK, so I am exaggerating just a skosh.

School was actually starting in 2o minutes.


But let's face it...school supply shopping -- successful, stress-free school supply shopping-- takes excellent planning and organizational skills, and patience...three attributes that aren't readily at my fingertips.

Especially patience.

Another flash from School Year Past:

"But I want the 36 -crayon box, Mom."

"But Daniel, it says you only need 24."

"But Mom..."

"But nothing, young man! Put the 24 box in the dang cart or you're grounded for life! Or until second grade."

And what about those colored pencils? Ya got erasable, gel, metallic-colored, multicultural, twistable, pastel...the list, of course, is extremely vague-- just says colored pencils -- and while Junior is clamoring for twistable gel, you're thinkin' Teach proobably just wants traditional (and possibly erasable)...if you could just get into the teacher's psyche for but a minute...)

"Just get the traditional 24-pack colored pencils, dear."

"But Mom, I want the 36 metallic-colored..."

"Put the 24-pack traditional colored pencils in the dang cart or you're grounded for life. Or until graduation."

So this year, as Daniel enters his first year of high school, I says to myself, I says, "Annie girl, this year, you're doin' it right. You're going to plan. You're going to be organized. You're going to have patience. It's ONLY school supply shopping.

Three weeks -- count 'em -- THREE weeks before school starts, I ask the high school principal (he's a long-time neighbor of mine) for a freshman school supply list.

"There isn't one," he says, oh-so-matter-of-factly.

"Pardon me," I sputter incredulously. "What did you just say?"

"There isn't a freshman school supply list," he says.


"So, what? We just figure out what they need by flippin' telepathy?" I snarl.

"Oh, you pretty much figure a spiral notebook for each class, some pens, pencils and a binder...the partciulars will come later from each teacher..." he says.

"Wait a minute, pal," I says, teeth clenched, eyes narrowed. "We are slaves to your insanely detailed yet horrendously vague school supply lists since pre-school, and now, suddenly, 11 school years into it, you're tellin' me there's no list?"


"You can't do this, man," I cried. "I'm hooked! I finally had it all planned! I was ready this year. I was counting on a list!"

Hi. My name is Annie. I'm a school supply list-a-holic. I'm about to go school supply shopping without a list for the first time in over a decade...

Hi, Annie!

Oh, well.

One notebook at a time.

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