For as long as I can remember, I have loathed paper. It’s smooth, but sometimes grainy, and it just feels dreadful and sickening when you drag your bare arm across it. Strange, for someone who became a writer, I know. Strange, also, just for a human being, but it’s very disruptive and, since it has an official name, very real.
I don’t know if mine is a full fledged fear – Papyrophobia is the term – or merely a severe dislike, but there are certain instances that make my insides shrink to raisins, my arm hairs rise and the tiny whisplets of baby hairs around my face stand up. Any time any paper comes into direct contact with dry, scratchy markers or dull, catchy pencil lead the situation escalates to a point where I have to excuse myself. Certain stock or flat finishes are my kryptonite. Now, if it’s worn, recycled or glossy, I’m good. In fact, when I was in college, I used to take a fresh sheet of paper, wad it up, crumple it real good, spread it back out and use that to write notes. (This, my friends, is called owning my weird.)
Here’s the shortlist of situations related to my self-diagnosed mild Papyrophobia that reduce me to a shrieking, shuddering pile of goosebumps.
1.Hell, for me, is a room full of cardboard boxes, 3 semi-dried-out Sharpies and a directive to label.
2.The only thing worse than being forced to write a 20-page essay on printer paper using a dull pencil while wearing a short sleeve shirt, is doing all that on warm printer paper fresh out of the machine.
3.Whenever someone walks over to show me something on a document, I say a silent prayer that they won’t drag their fingernail across the page to reiterate the phrase they’re trying to highlight.
4.The best thing to come from the digital revolution was the decline of newspaper.
5.Magazine publishers who choose that thick paper stock that feels like it’s tarred and feathered in sawdust for their cover are just showing off …and also, trying to ruin my life.
6.When I get my People magazine every weekend, the very first order of business is to go through, remove the inserts and throw them directly into the recycling. Even if Jennifer Aniston is on the cover.
7.Everyone thinks I don’t send Thank You notes because of my chaotic life and endearing forgetfulness, but it’s really those crisp, disgusting white envelopes. Let me take this opportunity to thank everyone who ever gave us anything or did anything thoughtful for anyone who lives in this home, with its Papyrophobia-riddled matriarch.
8.Handling a new manilla folder is the paper equivalent of a shot in the butt with a footlong needle.
9.The charm of a good library book is the worn, wonderful, soft pages. There’s nothing worse than a tightly bound novel fresh off the press. Reason 387 why I also adore a good audio book.
10.If anyone ever wants to break me, forget the water boarding, skip the starvation, and just wrap me like a burrito in one of those giant reams of construction paper they roll around in elementary schools and put a paper coffee cup in my hand. I will wilt before you.