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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Joys of Back-to-School...Shopping!

I think that it is a safe bet to say that this past week in "A Pop Culture Addict's Guide To Life" has been rather unpredictable.  There was no Monday Matinee, a lot of emotional baggage that I had to deal with, and the knowledge that maybe things aren't as dire as I initially thought.

In fact, I was so preoccupied with everything that has been going on that I completely forgot to ask people for requests this week.

So, I thought that I would use this space for another diary entry.  After all, this whole week has started off on a bizarre note.  May as well keep the momentum going.

August 28, 2013

Okay, so first things first, I want to wish my parents a happy 48th wedding anniversary.  Forty-eight years is certainly a huge accomplishment.  Some celebrity marriages don't even last forty-eight weeks!  So, congratulations to both of them!

Now, as I look at my calendar, the date reads August 28.  I imagine that some of you kids are already back at school for another year (and probably loathing every piece of homework you have to bring home to complete at that).  But here in Ontario, Canada, school doesn't start for a few days yet.  September 3 is the date that everybody goes back to school for another year.

You hear that kids?  You have less than a week left of your freedom from pencils, books, and all those teachers dirty looks.

Now, I'll be completely honest with all of you.  I had very mixed emotions about the first day of school.

In some ways, I hated it because I would be going to school with a brand new teacher who I did not know.  I also didn't know who was all going to be in my class until September, which prompted some anxiety (especially if I happened to be in a class with some of my worst tormentors, as was the case with seventh grade).

But there was always something good about going back to school.  Going out to shop for school supplies.

And, yes, I see you looking at me with blank faces.  How can shopping for back to school supplies be considered fun?

Well, for me, it was.

Okay, maybe not every aspect of back-to-school shopping was all that much fun.  I hated shopping for back-to-school clothes because I was not slim enough or had the money to wear the coolest styles.  And shoe shopping was absolutely frustrating as I could never find the right shoe to fit me (a problem which unfortunately has followed me into adulthood).

But shopping for school supplies?  That part was fun.

Whenever my family would take me to the back-to-school section at Giant Tiger, Woolco, or even an office supply store, I was absolutely on cloud nine.

But then, you also have to consider that when I was younger, I didn't really play with toys all that much (aside from video games).  I was just as content with a bundle of loose-leaf paper and a box of crayons to keep me amused.  Who needed the latest toys when your imagination was all you needed?

Let the kids compete against each other to see who had the best back-to-school look.  I was more concerned about having the highest quality school supplies.  And, for your viewing pleasure, I have compiled my own list of must haves for my own back-to-school experiences. 

Most of them met the guidelines of the school rules.  A couple of them blatantly broke those same rules.  But I didn't care.  I just used them when the teacher's back was turned. 

Okay, so here's the list.


I know that when I was in school, we were provided 80-page notebooks for us to do our schoolwork in, but let's face it.  When you needed to do homework assignments, sometimes it was better to show your work on a separate piece of paper.  And, besides, it's not as if I had to specifically buy loose leaf paper for back-to-school.  We always had it in the house.  I think I once went through an entire ream of paper in the course of a week because I was always drawing pictures and writing things down.

2.  PENCIL CRAYONS (specifically Laurentien brand)

This one makes me mist up a bit because over the last couple of years, Laurentien pencil crayons have been discontinued.  It seems as though Crayola now has the monopoly on the coloured pencil market - which stinks because I always saw Crayola pencil crayons as inferior to Laurentien.  Luckily for me, I have several Laurentien pencil crayons kicking around that I can use whenever I want.  I always did like Laurentien coloured pencils best because the colours were always bold, and they came in 12, 24, and even 60 count packages.  And what made Laurentien pencil crayons unique was that each coloured pencil was numbered, so you didn't even have to know the colours to know which one you needed.  You could ask someone to hand you pencil #5, and it would be the orchid purple one, or #18 would be blush pink, or #39 would be ocean blue.  

(And yes, I memorized all the colours with their respective numbers up to the number 45.  After that number, the colours kept changing, and I lost track of what the old colours and new colours were.)


Now, I know that I dissed Crayola pencil crayons just a few sentences ago, but if you are looking for markers, Crayola markers were always the go-to choice.  And, in almost every year that I was in elementary school, I remember always using Crayola brand markers in my schoolwork.

(The lone exception was in second grade, when I used those special colour-changing Raccoons markers.)

But seriously, an eight pack of Crayola markers was basically all you needed.  The colours were big and bright, and lasted a long time.

Of course, when I grew older, I started to develop a love for those Mr. Sketch markers, which were fruit-scented.  I think that the licorice black marker was enough to make anyone permanently high if they inhaled the fumes long enough.  And, one thing about Mr. Sketch markers was that they lasted on average four times as long as the Crayola ones.  I bought a 12-pack of Mr. Sketch markers ten years ago, and at least half of the colours still write as well as they did ten years earlier!

4 - GLUE

Okay, so this was one of the things that was considered a huge no-no by my school.  The school, after all, provided us with glue and we didn't need to bring any in.  

But come on.  The stuff the school provided us was that brown sludge known as mucilage.  That stuff didn't keep ANYTHING stuck on a piece of paper for long.  On construction paper, it was absolutely useless.  So, I always snuck in a couple of glue sticks in my school backpack to use whenever we had art class.  And, none of the teachers were ever the wiser, either.  Of course, I did have to deal with the students always wanting to borrow my glue stick, and they never returned it.  I think one year, I went through ten of them.


Yeah, the school always provided us with pencils whenever we needed them.  And given how many pencils that I went through over the course of a given year, it was always a good thing to know that teachers often had entire cases of them whenever we ended up losing ours.  Though, I will be completely honest.  Some teachers were overly stingy with their school supplies...such as the case of my first grade teacher who refused to pony up a green crayon for me when I only had seven to use.

But I will state this.  I didn't particularly care for the pencils that our school provided for us.  They must have been made of the cheapest wood possible because whenever we ended up breaking the pencil lead and we had to sharpen them using the pencil sharpener inside the room, the pencil sharpener would eat three-quarters of our pencil before giving us the desired point we wanted.  So frustrating.

Eventually, I gave up on sharpening pencils altogether and bought some of those BiC mechanical pencils.  With just a click of a button, I could "sharpen" my pencil with ease.


Now, for crayons, I actually liked using Crayola the best.  And, I remember using them back when they had the original colours.  I bet most of you reading this won't know the joy of using such colours as cadet blue, raw umber, and maize, but I will always forever have those memories.  We certainly never had a macaroni and cheese crayon.  

And, seriously...who came up with the colour name macaroni and cheese anyway?  I mean, it's a lovely colour and one that I like a lot, but it's just so random a name.  What next?  The bleu cheese crayon?

7 - PENS

This was another forbidden thing for me to use until about grade seven...and even then, I always cheated.  When I was in elementary school, we could never use pens for our schoolwork.  All of our work had to be done in pencils.  I suppose that made sense.  After all, what teacher wants to read an essay with pen splotches all over it.  By the time we reached seventh grade, we were allowed to use long as they were in blue or black.

And, well...I never quite followed that rule.  I never really followed the crowd in school, and I purposely used colours that were unlike anyone else's, just so the teacher knew that I did my homework.  I used royal purple, turquoise blue, and deep green inks on my assignments.  And, you know what?  I never did get penalized for it.  They probably didn't like it much, but they weren't going to give me a zero for it.

Perhaps this contributed to the fact that I rarely ever use black ball-point pens, if at all.  Unless I have no choice, I'll stick to my unusual colours, thanks.

And, well...that's my list of back-to-school must haves.  What are some of yours?

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